Alfa Romeo MiTo - Click above for a high-res image gallery
Small cars have historically struggled in the land of the free, home of the brave. Typically regarded as an afterthought by Detroit, our current domestic crop (Focus, Aveo, Caliber) needs more fertilizer. Imported "penalty boxes" fair somewhat better, but for every Honda Fit there's a Daihatsu Charade. Long story short, profit margins are slim and Americans are big people with big families that drive big distances. However, BMW's new Mini made serious and surprising inroads by giving small car buyers lots of content and high style (and a high price tag). BMW's sold 1.5 million of them, and given the Mini's success, it seems like a no brainer that Alfa Romeo (maybe via Chrysler) would bring the sexy little MiTo to our shores. Italian styling, sporty handling and high MPGs seem like a winning combo. Sadly, no -- maybe.
According to Alfa Romeo CEO Sergio Cravero, the MiTo is, "probably too small for today's U.S. market." In case you're wondering, the MiTo is the size of a Honda Fit. He goes on to say that, "A preliminary product assessment for a sporty three-door small hatchback showed potential volumes in the U.S. right now are roughly 20,000 units a year. That is not enough to make it a viable business case." Worrying about business cases in the U.S. is definitely a new paradigm for Alfa. But we're not going to fret too much, as Alfa Romeos will be making their way to American dealerships sometime in 2011. The first of which will probably be the Milano, a five-door mid-sized hatchback that we'll see at the Geneva Motor Show. Still, regarding the apparent no-show of the MiTo, we're a little bummed.
Related GalleryFirst Drive: Alfa MiTo
[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]