Fiat Chrysler to Build Parts Distribution Center in Virginia – Wall Street Journal

A Dec. 30, 2014 file photo shows the curves of automobiles in Fairfax, Va. Fiat Chrysler announced Thursday it plans to invest build a new distribution center in Wincester, Va.
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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is investing $12.2 million to build a new distribution center in Virginia amid growing demand for parts used by its dealerships to both repair and customize its vehicles.

The 400,000-square-foot Mopar distribution center, located in Winchester, will employ about 70 people and ship more than 9.2 million parts and other items annually. This will be the 22nd center Fiat Chrysler has in operation in North America. It will primarily supply more than 200 dealers in the mid-Atlantic region after it opens sometime in the fourth quarter.

Mopar is the hidden gem of the Fiat Chrysler operation. Currently, the unit distributes more than 500,000 different parts and accessories to more than 150 markets around the world. That number is only expected to continue to grow since the auto maker typically introduces dozens of customization parts with every new vehicle it launches.

Those parts range from a $350 Jeep-branded full vehicle cover and a $225 front grille for the Dodge Charger to a $155 bicycle carrier for the Pacifica minivan and a $347 bed liner for the Ram pickup truck. The unit also supplies wallets, golf shirts and key cases. Fiat Chrysler executives have said that almost every Jeep and pickup truck it sells in the U.S. is customized in some way by customers.

Customization has grown across the industry as low leasing rates have given customers the ability to not only purchase bigger cars but also buy a few extras they may have skipped in the past.

Auto makers and retailers have also become more savvy by offering higher quality parts and graphics packages to entice shoppers to buy.

A Fiat Chrysler spokesman declined to provide financial details since the auto maker doesn’t separately report the unit’s revenues.

Write to Jeff Bennett at jeff.bennett@wsj.com

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