By Andrew Ganz
Monday, May 7th, 2012 @ 5:59 pm
 
One of Fiat's flagship dealers hit a milestone for the Italian-American-Mexican automaker last month: Fiat of Austin, Texas, sold more than 100 new 500s last month, making it the first North American showroom to do so.

Fiat of Austin could very well be the de facto flagship for the fledgling brand, which was launched with high expectations that haven't yet been met. The showroom isn't located on a busy street alongside rival dealerships. Instead, it is situated in a high-density mixed-use development called The Domain that combines trendy retail shops with residential and and commercial office space. Rather than being tucked in alongside, gigantic Dodge and Toyota dealers, Fiat of Austin is a stone's throw from an Apple Store, a Neiman Marcus and a J. Crew.

Aside from EV startup Tesla's decision to skip traditional showrooms altogether in favor of shopping center locations, Fiat of Austin is an industry outlier.

Between its physical location in a fashionable mixed-use center on Austin's north side, the dealership also benefits from the whats-hip-is-in nature of Texas' increasingly dynamic capital city. What was once a quirky, off-the-beaten path town immortalized in Slackers has been transformed into one of the nation's most-watched cities for marketing types intent on being on the cutting edge.

The dealership could well prove to be a blueprint for future Fiat showrooms if its success continues.