BY KATHY GIBBONS
TRAVERSE CITY — Fiat has arrived in Traverse City.
Fox Grand Traverse's new Fiat franchise opens today at 3464 N. U.S. 31 South, and offers its first official test drives beginning at 8:30 a.m. But the company already sold four cars, said Fox Motors Northern Michigan Director John Cueter.
"We've had a lot of Internet requests for product information and test drives," he said. "It's a very fuel-efficient brand and "¦ it's a fun vehicle with high customer satisfaction.
"We're very excited for the brand and for the growth in the community and to have another marquee represented here in town and to give that option to our residents."
The dealership will offer the Fiat 500 at the start, said Fox FIAT Studio Manager Doyle Miller.
"In June, we're going to be receiving the new 500L and that is going to be a four-door extended wheelbase edition," Miller said. "That's very exciting because it will offer more leg room and cargo room.
"And we have an Abarth Cabrio coming in the springtime."
The 500 base model starts at $16,700, including delivery. The Abarth can run as high as $27,500, Miller said, adding that he doesn't have pricing on the 500L yet.
Traverse City is Fox's only Fiat sales outlet in Michigan and one of four Fiat franchises in the state. It's based in "a beautiful new showroom" formerly occupied by Fox BMW, Miller said, which is temporarily operating out of the same building as the Fox collision center office.
"BMW is in the process of moving to the new facility two miles south on U.S. 31," Miller said. "We're beginning construction this month. We hope to have that one open by June 2013."
The Fiat 500 is manufactured in Toluca, Mexico, though its engine is built in Dundee, south of Ann Arbor.
"We're very happy to have a vehicle here that's got an engine produced here in our home state," Miller said.
Fox FIAT will employ a service technician trained and certified to repair Fiats.