• Aug 18th 2008 at 7:59AM
  • 14

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]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Mi-To, Mi-To, Mi-To!

      I'd buy one.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Guys, lets be realistic here. Forget cost, models, dealerships, whatever - Alfa's styling is their biggest liability.

      While some may be able to appreciate the uniqure euro styling, the majority will cry foul. In the immediate timeframe, if anything, I only see alfa as either boutique, or as a competitor to Saab.

      Of course, given time it'll grow on north americans, like many other recent radical car design changes. Until then, alfa needs to set a realistic sales target and just go with the flow.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't want to be too critical, but I don't think Alfa can be successful in the US. One thing is to attract enthusiasts but selling meaningful volumes outside the fan base is completely different.

      Even in Eutorope, Alfa attracts car enthusiasts mostly due to the perceived sporty image. A friend of mine is currently reviewing Alfa 159 3.2 V6. Yes, the car looks amazing, sounds amazing, but it's nowhere near the Mazda6 MPS (Mazdaspeed6) or other Japanese sports sedans in terms of real world performance and driveability. To quote him, the new Mazda 6, European version, in standard guise, drives BETTER, it's more of a driver's car, than this top of the range Alfa.
      Despite recent improvements, Alfa's built quality is still substandard.

      To sum up, Alfas are not based on muscles, they are not based on technology, they are based on stirring up short term emotions and I seriously doubt enough Americans will be willing to pay for somthing they can touch, feel or experience on the road.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Look how many Americans have bought a PT Cruiser, Prius, or SUVs they don't need. They don't drive well; many aren't made well; but they still sold because of some perceived notion that attracted people.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "are not based on muscles, they are not based on technology, they are based on stirring up short term emotions." Funny thing is the same statement could be applied to Harley-Davidson and God knows how successful they are.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'll be the first to say that I will be in line to buy the 159, especially if it is as good or better than what I used to experience in the 146 many years back. I used to own the 146 from 1992 to 2002 and I still have yet to find a car on the market that compares to it. I also really hated selling it, mostly because i usually don't keep a car past 370,000 miles, even though it has been nearly trouble free, and it was time for something new.

      Yes my 146 could not beat a Mustang or handle like a BMW, however there is just something rather unique about how it handles and how it drives, how the engine purrs that made me fall in love with the car. It is really quite hard to explain to even the harshest critics who have never seen, felt, or driven an Alfa Romeo except if you ever go to Europe rent one and you will know what I am talking about. I guess the best way to explain is I know how some say that certain Japanese cars are soulless, an Alfa Romeo has a lot of soul and truly connects with the driver.

      Those who have driven Fords, Chevy's, and Chryslers all their life really should refrain from any negative commenting until you have experience one for at least a month because you really have no idea what you are missing. None of the above domestic automakers have anything remotely close to compare to an experience with an Alfa Romeo, not even Cadillac, Lincoln, or Pontiac.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think it's great they are coming back but I bet they are price like BMW's and from what I've read they don't perform nearly as well. Guess we'll see in a few years.
      • 7 Years Ago
      A dream of wanna-be race drivers the world over. But in the real world the thought of many on buying an Alfa is "What, are you nuts?) The Mito (Me to) might interest Walter Mitty types who want to cut and thrust on the freeway rush hour, but for those looking for economy above all else a large dealer network is 1st. choice.

      Sports sedans - Even Cinderella can show up too late for the ball.

      Sports Cars - Show me something in the 40k range and I will consider it.

      Alfa is a frame of mind. If 10k - 25k sales is enough, then they will have a hit.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "Those looking for economy above all else" are buying 4-cylinder Sonatas and Optimas and Camrys, or even Fusions and Malibus at deep discounts. They're not in the market for a MiTo or a 159, those are emotional buys. I could have gotten a car that would get me from A to B with the same amount of cargo for less than I paid for my Legacy GT Ltd Wagon, even from Subaru (75 fewer horsepower, cheaper interior, softer suspension, etc... but would cost less and burn regular.)

        Lots of people aren't looking for "economy above all else."
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm not so sure setting up dealerships in Mini locations is such a hot idea. The majority of Mini dealers are connected to BMW dealerships. It would seem like there would be too much competition with-in the same walls.

      Jaguar might be a better fit as they have nothing smaller than the XF. The 8C and the XK might butt heads a bit but the 8C is a sports car and the XK is a Grand Tourer. Jag is working on a F-type but that won't come up against anything in Alfa Romeo's line-up.

      I would be surprised if Ratan Tata isn't lobbying his fellow Fiat board members for this option.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The 159 does drive well actually, and it is a magnificent car. It feels really good to get inside and is a multi-faceted delight. A Mazda is something generic Japanese; practically a white good so invisible is it on the road. After all these years you still have to get close to most Japanese cars and read the badge to tell what make they are - so similarly bland are they.
      • 7 Years Ago
      For the new FIAT 500, I will be waiting on the dock!

      Hurry it up Tony! We've only been waiting since 1983....!
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Mito needs to come with the rest of the line up. There is no competition to the Mini right now. Audi doesn't plan to bring the A1 over (sadly) and the Mito would stack up as the modern alternative to the retro Mini.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "In the inherently fast-paced automotive industry..."

      Is that a joke? It's hard to think of very many industries *less* fast-paced than the automotive industry. Years to bring a new model to market. Decades to adopt new technologies. The automotive industry is a lot of things, but "fast-paced" it is not.
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