First batch of 2012 Fiat 500s to arrive will have manual transmissions

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 19, 2011

Fans who have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of 2012 Fiat 500 in the U.S. are up for another disappointment. After having been delayed, these first units that are set to arrive in late February will have manual transmissions.

In addition, only 20% of the 130 Fiat dealerships will be open when the cars arrive, according to Laura Soave, head of the Fiat brand in North America.

She also said that production will be ramped up in March and April. Dealerships will start to get the 500s that have six-speed automatic transmissions from Aisin Seiki Co.

Chrysler anticipates that a majority of 500s sold in the U.S. will have automatics. Soave also said that the first Fiat dealership -- Motor Village of L.A. in Los Angeles -- is expected to open this month. Chrysler owns this dealership, which was showcased at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

It will serve as a laboratory for new retailing techniques and it will carry all four Chrysler brands and Fiat.

Soave added that Chrysler is requiring dealers to complete the interiors of their showrooms, called Fiat Studios, before they start to sell the cars. Orders can already be taken though. Soave was firm in saying that there will be no exceptions.

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