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Rise in fleet specialist dealers planned by Fiat

Date: 24 March 2016   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

The Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group is to increase the number of its fleet specialist dealers from 24 to 40 as new product launches allow the firm, which includes the Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Fiat Professional brands, to grow its business car share.

"We will have better geographical coverage, and as much as we are starting to engage as a company, our dealers are on that journey as well," fleet boss Francis Bleasdale told BusinessCar. "We are starting to realise the opportunities and potential to grow."

Fiat has the new Tipo lower medium hatchback and estate coming this year, while the upper medium Alfa Romeo Giulia saloon will also launch before the end of 2016, along with the new light commercial Fiat Scudo medium van, Fiorino small van and Fullback pick-up.

"We have a team in place that is ready for growth - the best and most capable team we have had in the history of the company," continued Bleasdale. "They are young and extremely passionate about what we do, and that's what you need if you're going to overturn an ingrained attitude to Fiat as a brand or product - we need people willing to go out and speak to customers and demonstrate otherwise."

Amid the new product, Bleasdale is also conscious of not forgetting the crucial new models launched in 2015, in the form of the Fiat 500X and its Jeep Renegade small crossover sister model. "It's always something you have to be cautious about - you can't just launch and then forget about a product," he said. "The Renegade is fundamental to Jeep's growth."

Fiat's wide-ranging group of brands, which also includes the Fiat-related Abarth sporting badge, is still something the company is seeking to establish in fleets' consciousness. "We are increasingly having conversations with customers about not having the brand on their list but the group, with our Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Fiat Professional offer," Bleasdale said. "The conversations we are having with customers are that they are much more interested across the group, not just a brand or product."

He said the fact that Jeep in particular is part of Fiat's portfolio is a message that is still in its early days: "Our product range has got very distinct and different brands. But the team are very much a group team and not aligned to one brand. I think customers appreciate a single point of contact.

"I can't imagine anyone lies awake at night wrestling with whether to buy a Fiat 500X or a Jeep Renegade - they are very different products for very different customer needs."