Invitations from Chrysler Group were sent last Monday to about 600 dealers in 119 US markets to apply for franchises to offer Fiat cars.
The invitations were sent by Laura Soave, head of Fiat North America, and Peter Grady, Chrysler's vice president of network development and fleet. Those who will accept the invitation will be in Detroit on Aug. 30 to attend the Fiat Experience program.
During this event, Chrysler will present details of its plans for the Fiat network. Interested dealers will be asked to present proposals by Sept. 22. Fiat franchisees will be chosen in early October. The Fiat 500 minicar is the first to go on sale. Production will start in Toluca, Mexico, in the fourth quarter.
Three other 500-based models will start selling by 2013, including a convertible, a sporty Abarth and a four-door hatchback with a raised roof.
In a statement, Grady said that the requirements for Fiat are straight forward: separate sales and display at launch, transitioning to a full dealership facility as the volume grows.
Dealers may even get the opportunity to offer Alfa Romeos since the brand is slated to return to the US market in 2012.
Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel didn't provide many details about upcoming Alfa Romeo products or any Alfa Romeo network, except to state that the Fiat network might be expanded as more new products are added to the lineup.
The invitations were sent to dealers in 36 states and Puerto Rico. Chrysler said that in the next five years, the 119 markets have, strong small-car registrations and growth potential in the small-car segment. Chrysler intends to grant about 200 Fiat franchises across those markets.