Fiat car dealership opens in downtown SLO

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Fiat dealership's projected gross sales were expected to surpass $5 million annually; it's actually the dealership's projected total sales.

Cole Chrysler Dodge has opened a Fiat dealership in downtown San Luis Obispo.

The dealership site at 1371 Monterey St., owned by the Cole family, was previously a used-car lot called the Cole Value Center.

The site, which opened Wednesday, has up to 50 Fiat 500s in stock. It is the only Fiat dealership in San Luis Obispo County.

The Fiat franchise comes four years after the Cole Value Center was opened and eight years after the Cole family opened its Cole Chrysler Dodge dealership and service center at Broad Street. That location remains.

The company hired three additional salespeople and expects projected total sales to top $5 million annually. In addition to the Italian maker’s cars, consignment vehicles will also be sold on the lot.

“The car business is picking up,” co-owner David Cole said.

In 2009 when the auto industry was struggling, the business had 17 full-time employees.

Now, it has nearly 60 fulltime employees, Cole said.

Cole Chrysler Dodge, which was started as Stanley Motors in 1950 by Stanley Cole, is the longest-running family-operated dealership in San Luis Obispo.