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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

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