Italy’s flagship auto maker wants to take on the big boys — with the smallest car possible.
The first Fiat dealership in Brooklyn opened on July 3 on 94th Street and Fourth Avenue, bringing European charm and fuel-efficiency to the Ridge in the form of the 500, a hatchback that rivals the Mini Cooper in size.
Since it opened, a slew of local car enthusiasts — including plenty of excited Italians — have visited. Soon, said Giuseppe Cirnigliaro, a native of Italy and studio director of Giuffre Fiat, the tiny two-door smart cars will become as popular here as they are in Europe and Brazil.
“Americans are getting to know the car,” said Cirnigliaro. “And they’re buying it, too.”
The Bay Ridge move is all part of Fiat’s plan to bring its European flavor to the American market, which has begun to shun big gas-guzzling SUVs for more practical sedans and hybrid models.
The 100-year-old car company, which helped save Chrysler when it bought into the beleagured American auto maker two years ago, is known for its tiny, gas sippers that are popular in other parts of the globe where gas prices have long been higher than they are here. Indeed, for many Brooklynites, the appeal of Fiat is its favorable gas mileage. The 500 gets up to 45 miles-per-gallon, rivaling American gas-guzzlers.
The new dealership fits perfectly in Bay Ridge, home to more than half a dozen car dealerships. It brings with it at least 10 new jobs to the neighborhood, and is Giuffre’s fourth in the area; a fifth, Giuffre Chrysler Dodge Jeep, opened on Aug. 1.
“People come in all the time to take a test drive, and they bring their wives and kids,” said Cirnigliaro. “Everyone is very excited about this. It’s an icon.”
Giuffre Fiat [9265 Fourth Ave. at 94th Street in Bay Ridge, (888) 420-9931]. For information, visit www.fiatus