Good Morning
Good Morning

LI Chrysler dealers to sell Fiat 500

The North American model of the Fiat 500

The North American model of the Fiat 500 Sport. (Undated) Credit: Barry Hathaway

Chrysler has named two Long Island dealers, in Jericho and Patchogue, to sell its first Fiat-designed model, the 500, beginning early next year. A spokesman said a third, in Southampton, is expected to be named by the end of the year.

The smallest of the Detroit Three automakers said it had notified Brown's Jeep Chrysler Dodge in Patchogue and Westbury Jeep Chrysler Dodge in Jericho of their selection.

Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel in Auburn Hills, Mich., said it also had named dealerships in Manhattan, Larchmont and Staten Island and planned to name others in Brooklyn and Queens, as well as Southampton, all of which have been identified as strong markets for small cars.

The automaker plans to have 165 dealers nationwide.

There is only one Chrysler dealership in Southampton, Storms Motors on County Road 39A, but Kisiel said the Fiat dealers still to be designated will not necessarily be dealers now handling Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge products.

The dealers should have the first 500s available for customer inspection in December, with vehicle shipments expected to peak in January or February.

Chrysler said in its announcement that some dealers will build new structures for Fiat, others plan to convert on-site used car and other buildings into Fiat dealerships and some will purchase former auto dealerships or other empty retail stores in their markets. "The minimum we are asking to start out is a separate showroom," said Kisiel.

The carmaker says the North American version of the 500, being produced by Chrysler in Mexico, will be equipped with Fiat's 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine, which in European versions produces 100 hp. The car will be offered as a hardtop at first, with a convertible due in the spring. 

Prices have not been announced, nor have the car's U.S. government fuel economy estimates, but more information is expected to be released next month at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

At about 140 inches, the 500 is about six inches shorter than a basic Mini Cooper. In countries where it is sold now, prices range from  the midteens to the low $20,000s.

Fiat is a stakeholder in Chrysler and controls the U.S. carmaker, which was saved from insolvency last year with a bankruptcy filing and federal bailout loans.

Brown's owner, Gary Brown, confirmed his appointment in a voice-mail message. Westbury's owner did not a return a call.

More news