Be it ever so humble…
In a matter of days Olathe Dodge will add Fiat of Olathe and become Kansas City’s exclusive area Fiat car dealer. And in mere days, it will get its first demo in – a spanking new 2012 Fiat 500. Meanwhile, the game is afoot on designing and morphing its used car office building in a snazzy, new Fiat Studio.
"What’s funny is we are starting on the building February 1st," says general manager Jeff Briggs. "But I will have a new Fiat 500 here in the next few days for people to look at and test drive."
The official launch for Fiat North America’s new 500 goes down Feb. 8 to 10 in Los Angeles, Briggs says.
The model locals can expect to see and test drive when Fiat of Olathe gets its first car?
"I’m going to be getting a Sport model," Briggs says. "The vehicle will not be for sale, but they will be sending a window sticker with it so customers can see how much it costs."
The Fiat Studio makeover should take – weather permitting – around three weeks, Briggs says. It won’t be cheap either. Fiat is requiring dealers to follow an upscale, hip, modern Italian design.
Briggs can’t wait to roll out the 500s in the new digs.
"We’re actually doing $330,000 worth of work," Briggs says. "To Fiat specs – they want it nice – and they want a reputation for quality and hipness, too."
"Ordering a Fiat 500 will be a customer controlled process," he stresses. "They come in and tell us what they want instead of us telling the consumer what we want them to have."
Briggs expects to be able to carry other Fiat and Alfa Romeo cars in the coming months.
"We’ll be getting Alfa Romeos by the end of 2013," Briggs says.
Meanwhile, back in the present day…
"The good thing about the Fiat 500 is the quality," Briggs says. "The fit and finish on these new 500s is excellent – they’re gorgeous. I mean, these cars are absolutely beautiful."
ETA on Fiat of Olathe being full-time up and running?
"The initial plan is for us to open in March," Briggs says. "We might be a little optimistic."
The odds of Kansas City getting more than one Fiat dealership? In a word, slim.
"I was told that Kansas City’s not going to see any other dealers for awhile," Briggs says.