Fiat plans to operate 150 dealers in US by Apr 2012 image

When Fiat launched the Fiat 500 model in the United States, its CEO, Sergio Marchionne said it will sell 50,000 units in 2011.

However, from the beginning of the year, the Italian automaker sold only 20,940 units (Jan-October). The rollout was hindered by complications in opening new Fiat stores instead of using existing space at Chrysler dealerships, Detroit News reports.

Reports indicate that the company currently has about a 184-day supply while actual sales numbers by dealership show some dealers as selling as few as 49 examples of the 500 this year while the stronger Fiat dealerships have sold in the area of 370 vehicles.

To increase its sales, Fiat will open 20 more U.S. dealerships during 2012’s first quarter to sell the Italian brand. Gualberto Ranieri, a Chrysler representative, said 130 U.S. stores should be open by year’s end and Francois said the number will rise to 150 by March 31.

What’s more, Chrysler has laid off workers at the plant that manufactures the 1.4-liter engine powering the 500 because there’s not enough demand to keep those folks employed.

The vehicle’s strongest U.S. markets so far are in California and the Southeast, according to initial sales figures, while the weakest regional markets are in the Midwest.