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Published: Friday, 11/18/2011

N. America’s Fiat sales under half of prediction


Chrysler Group LLC hired Jennifer Lopez and built showrooms to reintroduce Americans to the Fiat brand. So far, that has not worked out.

North America sales of the Fiat 500 through October totaled 21,380, short of Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne’s forecast of 50,000 deliveries. The rollout was held back by Chrysler’s decision to create stores for Fiat instead of using space within Chrysler dealerships.

Chrysler said it plans to open about 30 more U.S. dealerships to sell the Italian brand by the end of the first quarter next year, on top of about 60 now. There are about 120 now. The slow start meant Fiat missed a chance to take advantage of limited supplies of Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. models after the tsunami in March disrupted the supply of parts from Japan.

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