- Aug 18, 2008
Alfa Romeo's return to America comes into focus
Be patient. In the inherently fast-paced automotive industry, it's quite a thing to ask. But that's exactly what Alfa Romeo has demanded of the eager legions of its fans in the United States. The Italian automaker may retain a sizable base of enthusiasts in America, but while rumors of its impending return to the market have been mounting for some time -- with no clear end in sight -- Alfa remains committed to coming back in full force. And when it does, it won't be for the sake of its loyal fans alone, but with every intention of attacking the entirety of the world's largest new-car market in full force.
Three major questions linger over Alfa Romeo's return to the US: namely, when, what and where. The "when" was anticipated to be next year, but with plans continuously being pushed back, sources indicate the new target is 2010, firmly. As for "what", initial reports suggested Alfa's return would be heralded by the Brera, 159 and 8C Competizione. While the latter is still in the cards – with a healthy portion of the 8C's production still reserved for American consumption – the Brera and 159 are to be replaced by then, and the all-new MiTo and upcoming 149 would also form attractive offerings for American buyers. Plans for a crossover and a rear-drive luxury flagship (underpinned possibly by BMW or by Jaguar) are also under consideration.
Finally, if you thought the "where" was a no-brainer, the question is broken down into both sales and production. Initially, Maserati was tipped to offer its sales network to its sister-company upon landing Stateside, however its 85 locations would not be enough for the type of volume Alfa Romeo would need. Fiat's giant agricultural equipment subsidiary Case New Holland, based in Chicago, which could offer support for parts distribution, however sales would not be suitable. Fiat's new partnership with BMW, meanwhile, could hold the answer, with Alfas being sold in MINI dealerships across North America. As for production, Alfa has long been tipped to be leaning towards dedicated manufacturing in North America to take advantage of NAFTA benefits and the weak American dollar, and while discussions are still ongoing – possibly buying excess capacity from Detroit – the final arrangement remains unclear. While we watch out for the answers to these questions, the one thing that remains crystal clear is Alfa Romeo's intention of taking the North American market by storm.
[Source: Auto Observer]