The Alfa Romeo Countdown Is On! For Real This Time!

February 25th, 2014

Alfa Romeo 4C

Come on, you guys. This is it. For real.

Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, now known as Alfa Romeo, will return to the United States by the end of June. This June. As in within 4 months.

It’s okay to be skeptical, as the promise has been made, and broken, plenty of times in the last half-decade or so. This time we have the Alfa Romeo 4C to drool over, but don’t expect to walk in to your local dealer, negotiate a fair price and drive away with a new Alfa.

Why won’t it be that easy to secure a new Alfa all your own?

As you may or may not have noticed on recent drives through your city, there is a severe lack of Alfa Romeo dealerships. In fact there are currently zero dealers in the United States. To get around that problem, Alfa’s owner, FIAT, will use other means of distribution. In the U.S., it has three options: sell Alfas through Chrysler dealers, FIAT dealers or Maserati dealers.

This is an interesting problem. Chrysler is out of the question, because a mass-market American brand has no business being associated with a luxury Italian sports car. FIAT could make sense, but its current U.S. offering isn’t quite on par with the 4C. That leaves Maserati, a nice match for the intended target of the 4C but with a lack of actual dealer locations.

Considering Alfa Romeo only hopes to sell around 500 cars here this year, it’s a distribution method that makes sense, though it’s frustrating for FIAT dealers who want access to the brand. The Detroit News says:

FIAT was so keen to take control of a bankrupt Chrysler back in 2009 partly to gain access to the Auburn Hills automaker’s distribution network in the United States. To convince Chrysler franchisees to open standalone Fiat stores, Marchionne promised that they would also be able to sell Alfa Romeos when the brand returned to the United States with a full lineup of curvacious Italian rides.

That was supposed to happen in 2012.

Then 2013.

Now that 2014 is upon us, the brand will begin a slow re-entry. If it’s successful and the roughly $60,000 car sparks a demand for more Alfas, a larger lineup will arrive here in 2015 and, we hope, be sold through FIAT/Alfa Romeo dealerships.

In the meantime, you’re more than welcome to search the used listings for remaining Alfas in the country. It might be a long shot, as they were last sold new here in 1995.

Can you picture a new Alfa Romeo in your garage?

-tgriffith

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