Alfa Romeo will no longer be just a brand—it would soon be a standalone firm.
Automotive News broke the news, saying that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne will make the change in an attempt to revive the brand. As a standalone company, Alfa Romeo will have publicly disclosed financial statements.
Like other Fiat-owned units Ferrari and Maserati, Alfa Romeo is also expected to have its own headquarters and management team.
People familiar with the plans said that there will be six new models for Alfa Romeo. These include a compact SUV, mid-sized sedan, large sedan, large SUV, large coupe and a two-seat roadster. The upscale versions of the aforementioned vehicles will be equipped with Ferrari-developed V-6 gasoline engines. They will also be manufactured in Italy. The compact SUV and mid-sized sedan are planned to be made in Fiat’s Cassino factory while the large sedan and SUV are slated to be built in another Fiat facility in Turin.
Marchionne has been successful with the turnaround of Maserati and hopes the same strategy will work for Alfa Romeo. As a result, the brand will be launching a lineup of rear-wheel-drive cars that will allow it to compete with the likes of BMW. The brand will also launch all-wheel drive SUVs and crossovers.
All these plans are part of Marchionne’s attempt to not only reinvigorate the Alfa Romeo brand but to also make it a global one. Fiat Chrysler’s CEO is banking on the turnaround to help make the company’s European operations profitable once again.
Sources said that Marchionne will make the announcement on May 6th, when the CEO is scheduled to present the company’s five-year product and business strategy. The auto industry eagerly anticipates what Marchionne plans to do with Alfa Romeo in particular, which Fiat Chrysler has yet to successfully turn around.
Marchionne declined to speak about the matter earlier this month.
This new plan for Alfa Romeo is the fourth for Marchionne since he joined Fiat in 2004. All previous strategies for the brand failed. The previous plan was to sell 300,000 of the brand’s units by 2016, and this followed the plan to sell 500,000 units by 2014. So far, the brand is way behind either target—according to Motor Authority, Alfa Romeo sold only 101,000 units in 2013 and majority of them were sold in Europe.
The news about the transformation of Alfa Romeo as a standalone entity is important, specifically for Fiat dealers in the United States. At present, these dealerships only sell two small cars in the country—the Fiat 500 and 500L.
Alfa Romeo has been absent from the U.S. market in almost two decades, and it recently made its comeback at the 2014 New York International Auto Show with the debut of its 4C. While the brand did re-enter the market in 2008 with the expensive 8C (price started at $260,000), only 100 units of it were sold.
Alfa Romeo plans to sell more units of the 4C, which proves to be more accessible compared to the 8C. The two-seat sports car will be initially introduced to the U.S. market in June through a ‘Launch Edition,’ which is available in only three colors (white and two shades of red). Only 500 units of these will be sold, and each is priced at about $70,000. In the fall, more color choices will be available for the 4C. The non-launch edition has a starting price of $54,000.
Photo credit: alfaromeo.com