Photo by Heather Middleton
By M.J. Subiria Arauz
Georgians can once again purchase vehicles produced by an Italian manufacturer, said a spokesman for the Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealership Association.
FIAT of South Atlanta is the first Georgia-based dealership for the Italian manufacturer to open recently, the spokesman, Dave Tribble, said.
The dealership is located at 1425 Southlake Parkway, in Morrow. In the near future, three other FIAT dealerships will open in the metro area, including in Buford, Newnan and Atlanta, he said.
Casey Jackson, general manager at FIAT of South Atlanta, said the dealership opened three weeks ago, and business has been "great." The dealership is currently selling 2012 FIAT 500 vehicles, which is the only model it is handling at the moment. It has sold 21 of these vehicles, he said.
"It's a different kind of car, a small kind of car with a great design," said the general manager.
He said the dealership has been attracting customers from Clayton County and other parts of metro Atlanta.
Jackson explained that there are three trim levels for the model the dealership offers, including the Pop, and Sport, both with a five-speed, manual transmission and 38 miles to the gallon on the highway. The Lounge, is an automatic version of the car with 34 miles to the gallon on the highway, he said.
The Pop has a starting price of $15,500, while the Sport's starting price is $17,500, and the Lounge starts at $19,500, said Jackson.
"It's a great little city car that gets great gas mileage," he emphasized.
Jackson said that by the end of this year, the dealership will have other models available. "We'll have a long line of vehicles," he said.
Convertibles and sports utility vehicles (SUV's) are among the other models FIAT produces, he said.
According to reports, FIAT acquired Chrysler in 2009. Jackson added that FIAT of South Atlanta is a member of his company, Don Jackson Auto Group.
He said before FIAT was housed at the facility, Don Jackson Auto Group sold Lincoln Mercury vehicles. The dealership was called Spartan Lincoln Mercury, in Morrow, which opened in 1985, he said.
According to Jackson, Ford Motor Company discontinued the Mercury brand at the end of 2010. "They did away with the Mercury franchise and we were looking for a new franchise, a new car to sell," he said.
"We [Don Jackson Auto Group] thought it was an exciting company," added Jackson.
He said the 35,000-square-foot facility had to be renovated to meet the standards of FIAT, which was an $1 million investment for Don Jackson Auto Group. The state-of-the-art facility is entirely new, and includes an Italian design, he added.
Jackson said that during the renovation, the dealership continued to sell Lincoln Mercury vehicles, up until three weeks ago, when his company eventually sold the Lincoln Mercury franchise back to Ford Motor Company.