TURIN - Fiat Auto wants to keep the same number of sales outlets in Europe, while decreasing the number of dealer franchises.
Loic Caperan, Fiat Auto sales and marketing director, said dealers would get bigger territories and, outside Italy, at least two brands.
Fiat has 3,000 dealers in Europe, one third are in Italy. They represent 4,150 franchises - 2,200 Fiat, 1,000 Lancia and 950 Alfa Romeo.
The brand strategy for export markets is different from the plan in Italy, Caperan said.
In the home market, the three brands have fully independent networks - 519 Fiat franchises, 260 Lancia and 219 Alfa Romeo. Rarely does the same dealer own two brand franchises.
In the early 1990s, Fiat began reducing the number of franchises in Italy, especially for the Fiat brand. The number of Fiat franchises is down from 850 to 519, but with about the same number of outlets.
In 1993, Fiat Auto began consolidating dealers in the rest of Europe. Alfa Romeo and Lancia dealers are merging with the largest local Fiat brand dealer.
Fiat Auto is also opening expensive, downtown 'Big Centers' in European capitals. The showrooms are owned or leased by Fiat, but run by dealers.