We have written about Alfa Romeos in the past (here, for instance), but now we have it on authority from the boss that they are indeed coming to America, and in some numbers. Yesterday, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne spelled out a complex and ambitious product plan for Fiat-Chrysler over the next five years.
Within the next four, expect to see six new Alfa models, including the possible Pininfarina Spider shown above or the more likely version at right. Two crossovers will be built in Chrysler plants—a compact SUV built on the Giulietta platform in 2012, and a larger one à la Jeep’s Liberty (in 2014).
The Giulietta finally launches in Europe next month and will come to America with a new look in 2014. The five-door hatch offers a variety of engines, gas and diesel, ranging from 120 to 235 hp. We will also get the MiTo minicar (in 2013) and a midsize sedan and wagon in late 2012, named Giulia in Europe and replacing the Alfa 159.
Okay, the reason this is all such a big deal is twofold: One, Marchionne has committed to making Alfa a “full-line premium carmaker”:
Part of Alfa’s revival will be driven by the brand’s return to the North American market, where it expects to sell around 85,000 cars in 2014 alone. At that time, Marchionne expects Alfa to be selling 500,000 cars globally. In 2008, the perennial loss-maker sold just 103,000 cars.
Alfa has become a basket case, and things had declined even before it left the U.S. market in 1995—despite the fact that it has perennially produced exciting though sometimes fragile cars.
Which brings me to point two: Alfa’s history and following among car-lovers. That history includes not only racing victories galore, but giving birth to Scuderia Ferrari and all that followed with Signor Enzo. Plus years creating magnificent road and race cars.
I was lucky enough to own a red 1963 Giulietta Spider, a car that taught me how to drive fast and furiously. I came very close to buying a 1993 Alfa 164 sedan (right), which I wish I had: a great V6, Pininfarina styling, and that impeccable Alfa “something.” A friend in Maine restored one and drives it happily every day. There are a lot of Alfa-lovers out there, and we have been waiting for the Great Return.
Do you think Marchionne’s plans for Alfa make sense, or is he perhaps overly ambitious?