The latest plan to right Alfa Romeo’s sales will call on the same strategy in place with Maserati: premium global expansion.
Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is searching for a way to pull Alfa Romeo out of the downward spiral it has been on for most of a decade. The company hasn’t turned a profit in nine years and this is the fourth time Marchionne has tried to address the brand’s sales woes.
The proposal will hinge on a new rear-wheel drive platform to underpin future models with the provision for all-wheel drive capability. It will be developed by a dedicated group of engineers at Maserati in Modena, Italy and would underpin at least four new models: the Giulia mid-size sedan and wagon along with a flagship sedan and an SUV. Currently, parent company Fiat is sharing its platforms with new Chrysler products including the Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Dart. Given Alfa’s low volume, the company will probably share the platform with large rear-wheel drive sedans from the Pentastar brand’s portfolio. Those could include the Chrysler 300 as well as the Dodge Charger and Challenger.
Alfa Romeo’s first product to run on the platform is expected to launch in 2016 and will be sold in the U.S. according to a report from Automotive News. Alfa Romeo is expected to begin selling its new 4C sports car in North America as well, although the logistics of that operation are causing a stir with Fiat dealers. With sinking sales and a thin product portfolio, they are counting on the 4C to drum up sales, but it isn’t clear if the car will be distributed through Fiat retailers or Maserati’s U.S. network. That and disagreements between Fiat and the UAW healthcare trust over valuation of the remaining 41.5 percent of Chrysler it owns could threaten Alfa’s North American return altogether.
If the squabbling dies down, it could mean a raft of new Italian products for North America, although the details of Marchionne’s plan are still a secret. But there could be other underlying problems. Senior managing director of International Strategy & Investment said Fiat doesn’t have the cash to buy out the remaining share of Chrysler and built Alfa Romeo back up.
[Source: Automotive News]
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