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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The rebirth of Alfa Romeo...

Alfa Romeo figured prominently in Fiat's Five Year Product plan presentation. Fiat's CEO, Sergio Marchionne stated during the presentation, (there will be) "...a strong and unequivocal commitment to the development of Alfa Romeo. We believe in the Alfa name and market position and are determined to transform it into a full-liner premium brand."

Interior of the Alfa Romeo Brera

Marchionne went on to say:

"Plans include Alfa's return to the NAFTA region, where the product range will be complemented at the upper end by Maserati, that as you know already operates in those markets but will expand its presence to also include the luxury E segment."

Alfa Romeo's projected sales volume from 2007 anticipated 300,000 units by 2010

The plans announced during the presentation amount to a rebirth of Alfa Romeo
and comes at a critical time for Alfa as its sales, although up in 2009, have fallen far short of its projections. Alfa was charged with achieving 300,000 unit sales in its 2007 product plan. Indeed, it has been said Alfa Romeo needs to have its sales at 300,000 to produce profits, but last year sales were 110,000 units. Sergio Marchionne has questioned how long the brand can continue to under-perform.

Alfa Romeo 159 is gorgeous

Marchionne has said Alfa had undergone too many reinventions.

"We need to stop doing it. You cannot be a newborn Christian every four years. It's the same religion, eventually you need to own a religion and carry it to conclusion," he is quoted as saying.

Interior of the Alfa Romeo 159

Alfa Romeo has continually over the years struggled with want kind of car maker it is. From 1910 to the Second World War, Alfa Romeo rose to become a maker of exclusive sports and racing cars, cars of the rich and famous much like Ferrari is today. After the war, the market for those cars were turned upside down, and the masses needed cars to drive, Alfa Romeo, which was taken over by the government in the 1930's, was tasked to build mass market cars. The company has a heritage of very high end cars but after the war has produced cars for nearly all price ranges and segments. This confusion has never allowed Alfa to concentrate on what it's core synergy is.

Alfa Romeo has had many CEO's during the past 10 years:

Daniele Bandiera 2002-2004

Karl Heinz 2004-2005

Antonio Baravalle 2005-2007

Luca de Meo 2007-2009

Sergio Cravero 2009-2010

And with every succeeding CEO, Alfa refocuses on what it is.

Alfa Romeo CEO Harald Wester

In January 2010, another CEO was appointed, Harald J. Wester.

Mr. Wester is currently Chief Technical Officer for Fiat Group and Fiat Group Automobiles and Chief Executive Officer of Maserati and Abarth. With this appointment, Mr.Wester will oversee three of Fiat's Sports divisions, Abarth, Maserati and now Alfa Romeo. Wester’s main goal will be to identify the similarities and synergies between the three brands.

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

Wester will spearhead the all out attack on the market and Alfa's return to the US. It's all or nothing for Alfa Romeo as Sergio Marchionne admits that if sales volumes continue at the previous rates, Alfa cannot survive as a independent brand.

Below is the Alfa Romeo plans for the next five years.

Alfa Romeo's Five Year Product Plan

During the plan period, Alfa Romeo will release 7 new models and 2 refreshes.

Alfa began 2010 with the presentation of the new Giulietta to the international press in mid-April and the commercial launch will be next month. The vehicle is key to re-establishing the brand's presence in this segment.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

The Giulietta is based on the same platform that will be used for future FGA and Chrysler Compact–segment vehicles. It is due to be refreshed in 2014, when it will also be offered in the NAFTA markets.

Alfa Romeo 159 will be sold alongside the new Giulia, which will spearhead Alfa's North American return

Particularly important additions to the Alfa line-up will arrive in 2012 with the launch of two Large-segment models: the Giulia sedan and the Giulia station wagon, which for a period will be offered alongside the current 159. The new Giulia will also be distributed in the USA, Canada and Mexico and will pioneer Alfa's return to the North American market.

Alfa Romeo Kamal was a concept SUV from 2003

Alfa will also expand into the SUV segment in two successive steps: the first in 2012, with a medium SUV, and the second in 2014 with a larger SUV. Both models will be produced by the Chrysler Group and will also be offered in the NAFTA markets.

In 2013, a restyled Alfa Romeo MiTo will arrive in the US in 5-door guise

For the small range, the current MiTo will be refreshed in 2012 and the following year it will be joined by a 5-door version, also to be sold in the US.

Pininfarina 2uettottanta concept car. Will the new Alfa Romeo Spider be based on this design? We'll see in 2013!

The range will be completed by the new Spider to be developed on a Chrysler platform and commercial launch is planned for 2013. The location of production has not yet been defined.

The 2014 target for Alfa is 350,000 units of which 85,000 are planed to be sold in the NAFTA region.

With thanks to Fiat Group Auto

Monday, April 26, 2010

Details of Fiat's 2010-2014 Product plans

Fiat's 2010-14 Product Plans for small cars

Here are the details of the Fiat Product slides I posted April 21, taken from the official transcripts and condensed from the 6 hour presentation.

There are still questions on what other vehicles will come to the US but the main one is about the 500 5-door/Giardiniera.

It seems the long wheelbased Giardiniera project is canceled, replaced with a small MPV with similar features to the 500.

This MPV will be built in two variations, a 5-seat version and a 7-seat version. This will replace the outgoing Idea and Multipla minivans, respectively.

The 5-seat model is reported by some as the 5 door Fiat 500. Production will be in Italy and is scheduled for 2012 and will be sold in the US.

Fiat Palio will be replaced with new entry level B segment sedan coming to the US

Another car coming to the US is listed as an entry level B model. This model will be produced in Serbia at the old Zastava car plant. It replaces the Fiat Palio, which was 2004 Car of the Year in Brazil.

Fiat, in a joint venture with the Serbian government, will invest almost $1 billion in upgrading the Kragujevac plant to world class status.

This sedan is scheduled for production in 2012 with US introduction to follow.

There is also a C segment sedan that will be sold in the US. Not much is known about this car but it will be based off of the C-EVO chassis and rumors are that it will be developed with Chrysler.

Admittedly, these are broad outlines without a lot of details, but that is Marchionne's style. He holds his cards close to him and doesn't want to give the competition anymore info than he has to. Also talking about future models hurts sales of current models;)

Below is an excerpt of Sergio Marchionne's presentation on Fiat's plans for the next five years:

During this 5-year period, the launch of 10 new models and 6 refreshes are planned.

Fiat Topolino coming in 2013

Presence in the mini and small segments will be strengthened by the addition of a new model in each of those segments: a new city car (new Topolino) to be presented in 2013 and an entry level B-segment model to arrive in 2012 for which export to the NAFTA region is also planned.

Artist rendition of the new 2011 Fiat Panda. You might want to turn down the music:)

Next year will see the commercial launch of the future Panda, a model pivotal to maintaining leadership in the mini segment in Europe. Refresh of this model is planned for 2014.

Both the original and convertible versions of the Cinquecento will also undergo a refresh during 2012.
The Punto Evo, launched in September last year, will be replaced by a completely new version in 2013.

In the Compact MPV segment, two new arrivals are planned for 2012, a 5-seater and a 7-seater. The latter model, in particular, will also be distributed in the NAFTA region.

Fiat's 2010-14 Product Plans for large cars

The brand's presence in the Compact segment will be bolstered by the arrival of two new products, a sedan and another model that will be presented to the market in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The sedan will also be distributed in the NAFTA region.
Fiat Croma being discontinued this year

This year we will phase out production of the Croma, Multipla and Ulysse, leaving the way open for other Group brands to compete in the Large sedan and MPV segments.

Fiat will offer a Crossover based on the Dodge Journey in 2011

For SUVs, the Sedici will continue to be in the product line-up for the next two years, but in 2011 a larger SUV - one of the first results of the integration with Chrysler - will be added to the Fiat brand portfolio. I’m talking about a new Crossover, based on the Dodge Journey platform and produced by the Americans.

Rounding out the Fiat product range will be passenger vehicles based on LCV platforms such as the new Doblò, released at the beginning of January, and the Qubo, that will be refreshed in 2012.

'In the NAFTA region, we plan to sell 105,000 vehicles by 2014. Of these, 20,000 will be Fiat brand vehicles and 85,000 Alfa Romeo.

The FGA sales targets for the USA, Canada and Mexico don’t take into account the Cinquecento’s also produced and sold by Chrysler in Latin America that will account for about 100,000 units.'

More excerpts from Fiat's Five Year Plan...

Another vital element of the plan is the full integration between FGA and Chrysler in terms of product portfolio, new product development and the allocation of production.

This process is already well under way and will be further developed over the plan period in relation to engineering and manufacturing so that significant synergies can be generated and an optimized level of integration between the product offerings of the two groups achieved.

Designs for the product portfolio include Jeep being positioned as a global brand.

The Chrysler and Lancia ranges will be fully integrated in Europe - with the exception of the UK where Lancia is not present and Chrysler will continue to operate.

The Dodge Challenger will be sold in Europe

Dodge will retain a purely American style and identity and will continue to operate as a full-liner brand in the NAFTA region. Outside of the US, only models consistent with the strong American image of the brand, such as the Challenger, Charger and Viper, will be distributed. In addition, some products will be gradually integrated with the Fiat brand in Europe and Brazil.

As for the development of new models, a full integration between the two organizations will begin, with a clear division of responsibilities, and reallocation of specific activities to achieve cost efficiencies.

Compact-segment and larger models will be predominantly developed and produced in the NAFTA region.
The allocation of production between FGA and Chrysler will be based on rationalization and efficiency so that maximum capacity utilization is achieved for both organizations and the need to establish new plants avoided.

This optimization of the industrial footprint will enable us to eliminate the current operating inefficiencies that are correlated to the current low capacity utilization.

The current production mix for FGA plants in Europe will be improved with the addition of around 400,000 D-segment or larger vehicles by the end of 2014.

Finally, the central pillars of the plan include a strong and unequivocal commitment to the development of Alfa Romeo.

We believe in the Alfa name and market position and are determined to transform it into a full-liner premium brand.

Maserati Gran Turismo

Plans include Alfa's return to the NAFTA region, where the product range will be complemented at the upper end by Maserati, that as you know already operates in those markets but will expand its presence to also include the luxury E segment.

In our next post we'll look at the plans for Alfa Romeo.
With thanks to Fiat Group Auto, Chrysler Media and Maserati Press
Thanks to Mickred's YouTube channel

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fiat 500 coming with 7 speed Dual Dry Clutch Transmission

Fiat announced yesterday during its Investor Day Five Year Plan presentation, the Fiat 500 will be equipped with the DDCT Dual Dry Clutch Transmission. This will be a new variation of the C635 DDCT that is being installed in the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta and future Chrysler products.

The DDCT transmission going into the Fiat 500 is a new 7 speed design specially created for smaller A and B segment cars.

The advantages of the DDCT transmission is it combines the shifting convenience of an automatic transmission with even greater operating efficiency than a manual transmission.

When you want to relax, you can drive it as an automatic, or when that sporting feeling hits, shift it manually. It delivers a superior sporty feel compared to electrically-actuated manual (MTA) gearboxes because of the greater gear shift speed and a near-zero power loss during gear changes.

An outstanding feature of this 3 shaft transmission is it is modular and can have an electric motor generator attached to one of the transmission input shafts making it the most compact and economical parallel hybrid powertrain on the market.

This is the first in its class and promises to open a huge potential market for Fiat. I've reported on the Fiat Hybrid system previously (you can read more here), but now the DDCT transmission completes the package.

The Fiat Hybrid is really the optimal hybrid propulsion system for city cars. This hybrid drive setup consists of the 900 cc two-cylinder TwinAir engine from the SGE family, combined with an innovative DDCT Dual Dry Clutch Transmission featuring an electric motor coupled to one of its two mainshafts.

The SGE engine’s small size makes it possible to use a simple, efficient transmission architecture, while coupling the motor downstream of the clutches means that all the characteristic functions of a parallel hybrid propulsion system, including electric drive, regenerative braking and torque boost from the two motors, can be provided in a compact, lightweight package: essential for small urban runabouts.

The hybrid propulsion system uses air-cooled lithium ion batteries housed in the car’s trunk. Other features include plug-in traction battery recharging and an HVAC system that can be powered by either the IC engine or the electric motor, using whichever unit provides peak efficiency at any given time.

The great news is this Hybrid Fiat 500 is getting closer to market and there was a running prototype on display for reporters to examine.

We can speculate (guarantee?) that the 7 speed DDCT will likely be a transmission option for the 500 Abarth when it makes its debut here in the states next year. I'll have more about the DDCT transmission in an upcoming post.

With the help of Fiat Group Auto

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fiat's 5 year product plans...

I wanted to get this up as soon as possible for all that are following the latest on Fiat's product lineup. I'm going over my notes (I just got through the 5 hour presentation!) and will post some relevant news on what I heard.

A surprise for me was Sergio Marchionne actually took and answered one of my questions on Alfa Romeo(!). I'll post the question and his reply here soon.

My question and others answered here:

In the meanwhile, check out these pictures from the slide presentation.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo to resign as Chairman of Fiat

Fiat announces that, during a press conference to be held this afternoon, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo will announce his intention to resign as Chairman of Fiat. The Vice Chairman of Fiat, John Elkann, and the CEO, Sergio Marchionne, will also be present at the conference.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo explained that the reason for his resignation, on the eve of the presentation of the Group’s 2010-2014 Business Plan, was that he had completed the assignment given to him by the core shareholder in May 2004.

Mr. Montezemolo will remain a member of the Fiat Board of Directors and Chairman of Ferrari.

Here's a little background on Luca Cordero di Montezemolo>

After joining Fiat, in 1973 FIAT moved him to Ferrari, where the 27 year old quickly became Enzo Ferrari's assistant and right hand man. In 1974, Montezemolo became manager of Scuderia Ferrari. In 1975, he was promoted out of Ferrari to be head of all FIAT racing activities, and in 1977 he advanced to become a senior manager of FIAT.

In November 1991, FIAT chairman Gianni Agnelli made Montezemolo president of Ferrari, which had been struggling since Enzo Ferrari's death; Montezemolo made it his personal goal to win the Formula One World Constructors' Championship once again. Montezemolo quickly made changes at the Italian team, signing up Niki Lauda as consultant and promoting Claudio Lombardi to team manager role.

During the 1990s he resurrected the Ferrari road car business from heavy debts into solid profit. He also took on the presidency of Maserati when Ferrari acquired it in 1997, until 2005.

Following the death of Umberto Agnelli on May 28, 2004, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo was elected chairman of FIAT. After leading Fiat's turnaround, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo decided to step down today (April 20, 2010) as Chairman of Fiat.

He will be succeeded by John Elkann, the grandson of the late Gianni Agnelli, and heir to the Fiat empire.

With thanks to Fiat Group Press, Elkann by Dgtmedia - Simone

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fiat 500: waiting for the news...

The big news this week is Fiat is publishing their five year product plan this Wednesday, April 21.

Fiat will provide details on what additional vehicles, besides the Fiat 500, are coming to the USA. We'll also know more about the fate of Alfa Romeo and Lancia and, going forward, what influence Chrysler will have on them.

As far as the Fiat 500, after Wednesday's announcement, the ball will officially start rolling and I predict there will be a floury of 500 promotions started here in the US as we get ready for its launch this December (little more than seven months away). Hang on!

While we're waiting for Wednesday, here's a brief road test of the Fiat 500 from the UK:

Video courtesy of

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Abarth dreaming...


Some random Abarth pictures for your enjoyment...

Abarth 695 "Tributo Ferrari"

Fiat Abarth 500 with esseesse kit

Fiat Abarth 500 Assetto Corse

Fiat Abarth 500 R3T

Fiat Abarth Rally 1976-1978

Fiat 124 Abarth Rally

Carlo Abarth

Photos courtesy of Fiat Group Press