Expanding on the philosophy that a Fiat dealership is a ‘design studio’, Lisa Copeland and FIAT of Austin celebrated a very special grand opening of their new and larger design studio today (March 20) complete with an art gallery debut of four hand-painted FIAT vehicles from Austin artist Sue Ellen Stavrand.
We had the opportunity to see the hand-painted FIAT vehicles today as the FIAT of Austin team worked feverishly to complete preparations for their grand opening tonight.
FIAT of Austin is now located at 13040 U.S. 183 North, about five miles north of its original location in The Domain shopping mall, where it had operated in a 6,000 square foot store front since the FIAT brand returned to the U.S. in 2011.
To the surprise of some, but certainly not Lisa Copeland, General Manager of FIAT of Austin, they became the number one selling dealer nationally in their very first month and have never looked back since as their success made Austin a best-selling FIAT market in the U.S.
Copeland noted that, though the Domain and its boutique shopping environment location allowed them to reach many in their target market initially, it also limited the number of new FIAT cars that could be stocked on site, required that service be done at another location and limited related used car sales.
Expanding sales space and adding service on site had become essential as, looking forward, FIAT of Austin is very likely to be selected by Fiat Chrysler as one of the new Alfa Romeo dealerships that will open later this year offering the Alfa Romeo to the U.S market for the first time in several years with the all-new Alfa Romeo 4C.
In addition, sometime in the first half of 2015, Fiat Chrysler will be bringing their new FIAT 500X compact SUV to the U.S. The new FIAT 500X SUV will be a companion vehicle to the new 2015 Jeep Renegade compact SUV (introduced earlier this year at the Geneva Auto Show) that will be offered late in 2014.
“We are the No. 1 FIAT brand retailer of all time, and with this move we intend to keep that title,” said Lisa Copeland, General Manager of FIAT of Austin. “We now can expand our sales and staff, and have brought service under one roof.”
The four hand-painted vehicles belong to Austin artist Sue Ellen Stavrand, who owns Art Driven which partners with the nation’s best artists to custom design and hand-paint automobiles.
She purchased three Fiat 500s and a Fiat 500L, and commissioned a local Austin artist Cindy Raschke to use the vehicles as her canvas. Those four unique vehicles were revealed for the first time during the grand opening celebration on Thursday evening.
Making FIAT of Austin into an art gallery of painted FIAT vehicles is just another first for Lisa Copeland and her dealership.
Since opening in February 2011, FIAT of Austin has sold 2,237 units. In addition, FIAT of Austin was the first FIAT studio to sell more than 100 Fiat 500s in a given month, a milestone that earned the studio a personal visit from Chrysler Group LLC Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne. FIAT of Austin accomplished that sales feat in April 2012 when it sold 110 units.
Copeland has set an ambitious goal of selling 1,200 units this year, up from 737 units in 2013, and 937 units sold in 2012, which was best in the nation.
The dealership moved into the new space about three weeks ago and is already solidly on track to sell well over 100 new FIAT vehicles this month with used car sales now approaching 70 per month, according to Copeland as she showed us around the new FIAT studio today.
“FIAT of Austin has done a great job for our brand and our customers,” said Jason Stoicevich, Head of FIAT Brand North America. “The all new state-of-the-art facility will allow them to bring their attention to detail and passion for the brand to even more customers and continue their success story in Texas.”
In its new space, FIAT of Austin now has a state-of-the-art 29,000 square feet facility, up from the restrictive 6,000 square feet at The Domain. Service and parts will be available starting April 1 at the new location and there is ample space for inventory including a selection of used cars.
Copeland is adding approximately 30 new personnel to her dealership between the sales and service functions.
“We are expecting awareness of our studio and of the FIAT brand to increase at our new location,” Copeland said. “The key is to maintain our unique, boutique customer experience in our new, 29,000-square-foot studio.”
FIAT of Austin was named by Automotive News as one of the “Best Dealerships To Work For” in 2013,” a title that Copeland has no intention of relinquishing in her new home.
FIAT of Austin is a member of the Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships.