Alfa Romeo’s Re-entry to U.S. Market Delayed Again

Speaking to a group of financial analysts in Frankfurt, Alfa Romeo CEO Harald Wester said the automaker would delay the U.S. launch of several models by at least another year. He also said the company has decided not to build a mid-sized SUV in the U.S. The company had previously planned to build the model at Chrysler’s Toledo, Ohio production plant.

The announcement came just one day after Chrysler-Fiat Sergio Marchionne offered a gloomy forecast for new model launches due to the European debt crisis. Speaking with reporters at the Frankfurt auto show on Tuesday, Marchionne said, “We are reviewing volumes and the timing of new products to see when it is really necessary to launch them.” In addition to Alfa Romeo, Fiat owns a number of other performance brands including Maserati and Ferrari.

Last April, Alfa Romeo announced that it planned to return to the U.S. market late next year. Due to the delay, it now appears that the first Alfa’s to arrive in the U.S. will be a limited release of just a few 4C limited edition coupes.

The 4C is a two-seat compact auto and features a carbon-fiber body and a turbocharged 250-hp, 1.8-liter direct-injection inline four-cylinder engine.  In Europe, the 4C sells for around $57,000. Pricing for the U.S. market has been disclosed.

A full-scale launch of the Alfa brand in the U.S. is now expected to take place in mid-2013. Alfa had hoped to sell 85,000 units in North America by 2014. Last year, the automaker sold 115,000 vehicles worldwide.

In addition to the 4C, Alfa plans to begin selling the MiTo five-door hatchback subcompact, the Giulietta compact hatchback and the Giulia sedan in the U.S. in 2013. A Giulia wagon may also be added to the lineup in 2014.

In the U.S., the Alfas brand will be sold through Fiat’s dealer network. The dealer network currently boasts 100 stores with an additional 30 stores scheduled to open by year’s end.

Fiat dealers are anxious to begin receiving Alfa Romeo models to augment their current inventories of Fiat 500 compact vehicles.

Alfa Romeo exited the U.S. market in 1995 but has been planning to return ever since signing a strategic alliance agreement with General Motors Company in early 2000.

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