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Old 11-18-2015, 09:04 AM   #1
XDCX
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Default New Fiat/Alfa Romeo store opens in Danbury, CT

In an effort to provide some balance to the thread I created on the closure of Fiat of Pensacola I thought I'd create this thread on the opening of a new Fiat/Alfa Romeo store in Danbury, CT.

Danbury Fiat and Alfa Romeo is part of the Premier Auto Group and the franchise backfills a location that was once used for the group's Volkswagen franchise.

For the full news report - click here
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Old 11-19-2015, 08:58 AM   #2
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In many ways a Fiat/Alfa store is probably an excellent franchise to backfill an empty dealership.

The new car franchise helps to legitimize the used car operation and creates an opportunity for some modest service and parts revenue. And while the dealer likely won't get rich by retailing Fiats it may provide him/her with a nice selection of trade vehicles.
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Old 11-19-2015, 10:19 AM   #3
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In many ways a Fiat/Alfa store is probably an excellent franchise to backfill an empty dealership.

The new car franchise helps to legitimize the used car operation and creates an opportunity for some modest service and parts revenue. And while the dealer likely won't get rich by retailing Fiats it may provide him/her with a nice selection of trade vehicles.
It will certainly enhance the dealership's tow truck revenue
My cousin bought a 500 when they first came out and I had to haul it back and forth to Waco to Allen Samuels store on my car trailer 4 times because it would just stop running going down the highway. They'd keep it for a week unable to replicate the problem, and just replace something hoping to get lucky. The fifth time he took my advice and traded it off.
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Old 11-19-2015, 05:30 PM   #4
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The 500X is a pretty compelling vehicle in its segment, but the short and lousy track record of the brand since being reintroduced in the states certainly won't help.

Even thought the 500X looks many times better than the sister Jeep Renegade, it will probably be outsold 10-to-1 or more after a while. Right now the 500X is actually helping Fiat avoid huge month-over-month slides versus last year.

We had the 'opportunity' to entertain Fiat at one point.

In our market there were two initial Fiat stores; both existing CDJR locations, one with two CDJR stores, for what it's worth. Both were located in shopping malls. Both failed, one within a year -- the better capitalized about three years after opening.

The new crop of two Fiat stores are both non-CDJR dealerships with large footprints. Both within the top 10 in total sales in Indiana, 10+ rooftops.

Not surprisingly, both Fiat stores are now shacked up with former standalone used car dealerships for their respective groups. If nothing else, it provides some legitimacy to the buyer, especially the prime buyer who might not always consider a stand-alone used car lot.

One of them has grown to add Maserati, Alfa, and has changed their used car stock around the reflect the 'quirky import' customer who might shop for a Fiat and the higher-end customer looking for used imports. This particular location is also most certainly helped by the fact that it's neighbors are BMW, Infiniti and Mini stores (all owned by a different group, but still -- makes an interesting little import corner).
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Old 11-20-2015, 08:59 AM   #5
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It will certainly enhance the dealership's tow truck revenue
My cousin bought a 500 when they first came out and I had to haul it back and forth to Waco to Allen Samuels store on my car trailer 4 times because it would just stop running going down the highway. They'd keep it for a week unable to replicate the problem, and just replace something hoping to get lucky. The fifth time he took my advice and traded it off.
Sounds like your cousin was smart to cut his losses and trade off the Fiat 500.

Does Texas not have a Lemon Law? In California they actually have advertisements on the highway billboards looking for people like your cousin who want to have their vehicle bought back.
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Old 11-20-2015, 09:20 AM   #6
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The 500X is a pretty compelling vehicle in its segment, but the short and lousy track record of the brand since being reintroduced in the states certainly won't help.

Even thought the 500X looks many times better than the sister Jeep Renegade, it will probably be outsold 10-to-1 or more after a while. Right now the 500X is actually helping Fiat avoid huge month-over-month slides versus last year.
I read a brief story in Automotive News that indicated that while the 500X is selling fairly well it's not helping serve as the "halo" that Auburn Hills likely hoped it would be. To your point, the 500X seems to be the only thing preventing year over year sales declines for Fiat and the 500X hasn't helped increase the volume of the other Fiat models.

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Originally Posted by mryan55 View Post

In our market there were two initial Fiat stores; both existing CDJR locations, one with two CDJR stores, for what it's worth. Both were located in shopping malls. Both failed, one within a year -- the better capitalized about three years after opening.

The new crop of two Fiat stores are both non-CDJR dealerships with large footprints. Both within the top 10 in total sales in Indiana, 10+ rooftops.

Not surprisingly, both Fiat stores are now shacked up with former standalone used car dealerships for their respective groups. If nothing else, it provides some legitimacy to the buyer, especially the prime buyer who might not always consider a stand-alone used car lot.
I want to make sure I understand.

So the first Fiat dealers in your market were CJDR dealers who likely attended the invitation only "Experience Fiat" event and both eventually closed their single point Fiat locations?

The subsequent Fiat dealers that FCA appointed were not existing CJDR dealers, they were mega-dealers with non-FCA franchises who used Fiat to legitimize an existing used car operation?

If that's the case it's not entirely surprising. I remember when used car dealers would search out a franchise like Suzuki or Daewoo to legitimize their operation and get their start as a new car dealer.
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Old 11-20-2015, 11:07 AM   #7
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If that's the case it's not entirely surprising. I remember when used car dealers would search out a franchise like Suzuki or Daewoo to legitimize their operation and get their start as a new car dealer.
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that the value of a Fiat franchise has dropped to the level of Suzuki or Daewoo and I'm quite certain that FCA is not approving low capitalized used car dealers who want their first shot as a new car dealer.

That said, if I were responsible for running Fiat and had to fix their current train wreck in the US adopting a strategy where you provide buy-in/buy-out opportunities for aggressive GMs who want to become first generation dealers would likely be what I'd do.

In my opinion there are not too many people who go shopping for a Fiat, the cars need to be sold and an aggressive (but ethical) GM who knew his/her future success was tied to the success of the Fiat store would get the job done.
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Old 11-20-2015, 11:52 AM   #8
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Sounds like your cousin was smart to cut his losses and trade off the Fiat 500.

Does Texas not have a Lemon Law? In California they actually have advertisements on the highway billboards looking for people like your cousin who want to have their vehicle bought back.
Yes, we do have lemon law statutes, but my cousin was also the County Judge and concerned that anyone hearing that he "made them buy it back" would assume that he had used his position as judge to pressure them.
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Old 11-23-2015, 08:16 AM   #9
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Yes, we do have lemon law statutes, but my cousin was also the County Judge and concerned that anyone hearing that he "made them buy it back" would assume that he had used his position as judge to pressure them.
Given the situation I totally understand.

I think Lemon Laws serve a purpose and some vehicles do indeed deserve to be bought back. That said, there's no question that a lot of the Lemon Law cases are little more than buyer's remorse or cases filed by people who can no longer afford their car/truck.
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