Fiat S.p.A. CEO Sergio Marchionne has announced that it will begin selling an Alfa Romeo sports car in the U.S. by the end of this year.
Speaking with a group of reporters at the Detroit Auto Show, Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the new2-seat 4C sports model is being tested in the U.S., but said it’s not quite ready for launch. “This undertaking to bring Alfa back is a one-shot deal,” said Marchionne. “We’re not going to change our mind. We’re not going to do it twice. We’re not going to execute it poorly.”
There have been numerous attempts to relaunch Alpha Romeo in the U.S. since the brand abandoned the market two decades ago. At one time, Alfa Romeo was the most popular Italian brand in the U.S.
During a conference in 2009, Marchionne said reviving the Alfa brand was a top priority and a key component in his strategy to consolidate the Fiat and Chrysler brands. While most of that strategy has been executed smoothly, the plan to revive the Alfa brand has fallen behind schedule.
Delaying the launch of the 4C, is Marchionne’s concern that the model’s powertrain have the right feel and sound. To ensure the new model sounds like an Alfa Romeo, Marchionne said the 4C has to have “Wop” engine. Aside the engine, Marchionne said the 4C’s basic architecture has been finalized. A total of nine Alfa models are slated to launch in the U.S. by 2016. The majority will be assembled in Italy, but one rear-wheel drive model will be built in Japan through a joint venture with Mazda.
Doubt over whether or not Alfa Romeo’s planned revival would ever become a reality has been growing, and recently rival automaker Volkswagen AG has suggested the best solution would be for Marchionne to sell them the ailing brand. On Monday, Marchionne attempted to put that idea to rest once and for all by saying, “I’ve got to come up with a German version of ‘No.’” I think it’s called ‘Nein.’”