ORLANDO -- Fiat dealerships meeting sales and customer service goals will be first to get the Alfa Romeo 4C, a Chrysler Group executive says.
Last month, Chrysler revealed that the 4C, a two-seat, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe, will arrive in dealerships by year end, when Alfa Romeo returns to the United States.
Alfa Romeo will be paired with Fiat, but Fiat dealerships are not guaranteed Alfa Romeo franchises, said Peter Grady, Chrysler Group vice president for network development and fleet.
"The 4C is the first vehicle that comes at the end of this calendar year, and it's going to go to the current Fiat dealers that are performing," Grady said in an interview during the National Automobile Dealers Association convention here. "So if you're selling and you're taking care of your customer, you'll be first up for Alfa Romeo."
Chrysler's Italian owner, Fiat S.p.A., has allocated 1,000 Alfa Romeo 4Cs each year for sale in the United States from annual global output of 2,500. Grady said he expects to have 220 U.S. Fiat dealerships open by Oct. 1, up from 202 today.
He said he is willing to be flexible with Fiat dealers who want to sell Alfa Romeo but have yet to build attached service departments because their stores are in malls or similarly limited locations.
Grady said Chrysler has always told Fiat dealers that they must have attached service departments at their stores before they would be allowed to sell Alfa Romeo vehicles.
But Fiat's amended product plan leaves the 4C as the only Alfa Romeo on sale in the United States until 2015. Grady said it would be unfair to require dealerships to have attached service departments to sell Alfa Romeo based on one, low-volume vehicle.
The Fiat dealerships will get a second Fiat nameplate, the four-door 500L, to sell this year, but struggling Fiat dealers have longed for Alfa Romeo's return to the United States to bolster their profits.
"With the way that the product plan is now coming to market, we're very keen on making sure that these guys do not overinvest while the volume is somewhat limited," Grady said.
Instead, he said dealers meeting sales and customer service targets will get Alfa Romeo franchises even if their stores are in malls as long as they agree to add attached service departments before the next wave of Alfa Romeos arrives in 2015.