Fiat has already allegedly allocated the first 1000 Abarth models it plans to sell in the USA. Since according to several dealers I spoke with, there will only be 1000, here’s what you need to know – if you want to buy one – you should plan to be gouged on the dealer side of the transaction.
Around the country – dealers are adding between $1000 and $10,000 to the MSRP of the Abarth. Chrysler spokespeople give the usual non-answer about things like this saying “We are represented by an independent dealer network and are not responsible for their actions.”
I cry BS. The car makers can spend millions on engineering and safety, come up with all the fancy car designs and technology, brilliant (or not) marketing plans and commercials, but at the end of the day, the dealer network for most brands is horrible and is the weakest link in the chain. It can undo all the good work done up until that point. I find all the car makers have a problem here to some degree, but Dodge/Chrysler dealerships are amongst the worst. In 2011 alone I tried to buy three different Dodge/Chrysler models only to walk away and add competitor’s cars to my garage because the Dodge/Chrysler dealers were either so sleazy or so greedy (by way of unbelievable second stickers) that I took a pass.
In one case, I tried to buy the new Dodge Charger SRT8. The dealer in Vegas had an ad for the car on the Internet. I printed it out. I called the dealer. I asked if the price in the ad was valid and if the car was on the lot for sale. I was told yes. I asked the salesman to double check. He said yes. The car was available. I went to the dealership, said I wanted the car, out came the sleazy manager who said – “you know I can’t sell you that car for that price – it’s special.” The oldest trick in the book. Hey sales manage, 1970 called and wants its sleazy back. I won’t be buying a Charger SRT8 any time soon.
I’ve had the same experience with the Abarth. Two different dealers told me they’d sell me the car for MSRP but then added things like “dealer fees” of between $1000 and $5000. So I walked. And so should you.
If consumers simply refuse to pay the second sticker prices added to these cars, that practice will stop. And when an Abarth starts to cost more than a fully-loaded Mini due to these tactics – well, this could explain why Fiat failed miserably when it comes to meeting their projected sales numbers. It could also explain why people are buying Camaros and even Corvettes rather than Dodge Charger SRT8s. With a $70,000 price (after the second sticker) why buy a Charger when that will get you a ZL1 or a Grand Sport Vette????
ALL the car makers need to clean up the dealer network. It’s still infested with guys who bring back the notion of the 70s and a car salesman named Fairly-reliable Bob. This problem will eventually solve itself because the car makers’ lobby will eventually run into an honest politician who won’t take their money and the Internet will become the open marketplace for these cars. When that happens, prices will become more realistic and car makers will have been forced into making the right decision – whether they like it or not.