Automobile mogul Rick Hendrick is driving a new car dealership into the Lowcountry.
Rick Hendrick Fiat of North Charleston is now open at 8355 Rivers Ave., between Greenridge Road and Otranto Boulevard.
The dealership, Hendrick’s 87th in the U.S., offers more than 100 Fiats on its 2.5-acre lot, representing what it called the largest fleet of Fiats in South Carolina.
The business has been operating out of Rick Hendrick Jeep Chrysler Dodge Ram next door for about two months, but on Monday it opened in a new 3,800-square-foot showroom and office building.
Service will be handled out of the Jeep Chrysler Dodge Ram dealership, which will see its service lanes expanded from one to three over the next few months, according to Fiat store general manager Jeremy Jimenez. Eventually, a service department will be added to the Fiat dealership.
Fiat is the majority shareholder of Chrysler, including Dodge and Jeep.
“We’ve seen the demand for small, fuel- efficient cars increase, and Fiat is meeting that demand,” said Tom Blocker, executive vice president of Charlotte-based Hendrick Automotive Group. “Fiat is a unique vehicle and has proven to be very popular with our customers.”
Jimenez echoed those remarks.
“Fiat is an automotive brand like no other. They refer to their dealerships as their studios,” Jimenez said. “Our team is passionate about the brand, and I’m excited for the Charleston market to experience this exciting product that offers style, technology and fuel efficiency, all in one.”
In the U.S., Fiat offers three trim-lines of the 500 model and plans to begin sales of the 500L, the brand’s first four-door model, in June.
Other Fiat dealerships in South Carolina are in Greer, Fort Mill and Lexington. Savannah and Wilmington, N.C., also are home to Fiat showrooms.
Fiat also is tied to other well-known European brands. In 1969, it became a shareholder in Ferrari. In 1986, it took control of Alfa Romeo from the Italian government. In 1993, Fiat purchased Maserati.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.