In a move that shows their clear intentions, Chrysler has started designating new franchises for the FIAT brand in the USA.

The initial list of new dealerships selling the Italian brand included dealerships in New York, Massachusetts, California, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Maine. Now the list is increasing to other parts of the country. Some dealers who closed their doors during the ‘08/’09 crisis are happy to take the FIAT brand. One former Saturn dealer in Florida is happy to hang the Italian logo where GM’s forgotten import fighters were once sold.

It seems that Chrysler is doing its best to avoid the mistakes made by FIAT in the US in the 70s and 80s. Back then the Turin brand did not have a dedicated dealership basis, instead the Italian cars were sold by a mixed match of dealerships that included Ford, GM, and Chrysler dealers and a few odd import sellers. Without their own dedicated shops, auto maintenance suffered, as most mechanics had poor training on FIAT maintenance, which led to the stereotype that the brand had poor build quality and shoddy engineering.

As reported earlier on Car Throttle, the Italian brand will be launched in the US by the diminutive 500, the first car from the manufacturer sold in America in 25 years. The car headed to the USA will be built in Mexico, and will come in regular coupe version, convertible, a much awaited sporty Abarth hot hatch, and a high roof, four door version.

The launch will be followed by the FIAT Panda, a sub compact that is smaller than most other cars sold in North America. The Panda’s launch could include the interesting four wheel drive Panda Cross model, although rumors say this version of the Italian car could also reach US shores under a Jeep badge to replace the Compass. It is not sure whether Jeep drivers will like an even smaller Jeep in their stable, specially one that is not US designed, or whether FIAT/Chrysler marketers will want a four wheel drive FIAT stealing sales from small Jeeps.

FIAT is now one of the main brands in Europe, and has received very good reviews in Europe for the quality of their cars. The question is whether The USA is willing to forgive or forget the “Fix It Again Tony” moniker that has plagued FIAT since the 1980s.