Alfa fans, rejoice: Alfa Romeo’s return to North America may be on track after all. Although Fiat executives questioned the launch and the brand’s future just weeks ago, CEO Sergio Marchionne now says the brand will return to the New World.
“I’m a lot more confident now that Alfa Romeo will reconstitute a product offering that is acceptable globally, and more in particular in the United States and Canada,” Marchionne reportedly said Friday at a speaking engagement in Toronto, Canada. “There is a strong likelihood that the brand will be back here within the next 24 months.”
It’s a far cry from what he told reporters on January 21, when he said that a decision to return Alfa to the U.S. would take a year and that he would look to formulate backup plans in case it didn’t happen. Now, a Chrysler spokesman has confirmed the reports of Marchionne’s statements in Toronto, putting Alfa back on track for a U.S. debut in 2012.
According to Automotive News’ sources in the company, Alfa is looking to share platforms and production with Chrysler brands to keep costs down. Sources say that Alfa may introduce two new models for the U.S. market named Giulia, building it here in the states in mid-2012. The similarly named Giulietta, which will debut in Geneva next month to replace the 147, is not in the cards for the U.S. at the moment. A new rear-drive Alfa, though, could be based on the Chrysler 300’s platform and even built in Canada to replace the 166.
All of this, of course, assumes that the strategic review of the brand finds a good business case for the Alfa Romeo nameplate. The company has, after all, seen its sales dwindle by nearly 50% since 2000 and is plagued with an aging lineup that’s just starting to be freshened with the new MiTo and Giulietta. We’ll know more when the strategic review, along with the brand’s four-year plan, are released on April 21.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)