In a strong signal of support, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles moved to reinforce Alfa with a new head of North American operations, Reid Bigland.

Alfa Romeo was in the news this week, and for once, it didn't involve another rumor the brand was going to be sold off to the highest bidder.

Quite the opposite. In a strong signal of support, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles moved to reinforce Alfa with a new head of North American operations, Reid Bigland, who had been in charge of the Ram division. Harald Wester remains global CEO of Alfa and Maserati.

It's a significant move, as Bigland has been considered a rising star within the Fiat-Chrysler conglomerate, and pulling him away from the important Ram business was not a decision made lightly. At first blush, it even seems questionable, as Alfa has only one car, the 4C, that's about to go on sale in America.

But that will change – or at least FCA says it will – in short order.
Bigland is charged with shepherding the next Alfa, a midsize sedan based on a rear-wheel-drive architecture, through a smooth launch that's planned for late 2015. That will be followed by seven – that's seven – new products from 2016 to through 2018. Plans revealed during a product presentation this spring call for: two compacts, another midsize sedan, a fullsize sedan, two utility vehicles/crossovers and another sports car. Alfa also says Quadrifoglio or "Cloverleaf"-badged performance variants will be produced. The engine portfolio is said to include fuel-efficient four-cylinder mills, mid-range six-cylinders with outputs around 320 or more horsepower and high powered six-cylinders with more than 500 hp. Diesels will also be offered.

Fiat-Chrysler has set a heady goal of selling 400k Alfas in 2018, up from about 74,000 cars last year.

In total, FCA will spend more than $6.6 billion to pump new life into its beleaguered Italian icon. Even if only some of these product launches come to pass, Alfa will have a varied portfolio in the United States, though time will tell if the vehicles are competitive. Fiat Chrysler has set a heady goal of selling 400,000 Alfas in 2018, up from about 74,000 cars last year.

Alfa has a new head man in North America, and he's armed with an ambitious plan. It now makes sense why FCA boss Sergio Marchionne has been adamant he won't sell Alfa.

"We are committed to Alfa. We are committed to the premium brands," he said on a conference call in July to discuss Fiat earnings.

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  • 29 Comments
      Anon E Mouse
      • 4 Months Ago

      Great news! Beautiful styling, legendary name recognition.  I am really looking forward to seeing Alfa Romeo back on US roads.

      manure
      • 4 Months Ago

      If they can execute a BMW type lineup, then yes.  This could work.  Alfa Romeo has more brand cachet than Audi does, in my book.  FCA can execute really good products when they focus.  Can they get a piece of the BMW-Audi pie, I say yes, and so can Volvo.  Luxury needs more than 3-4 brands.  It is getting VERY stale. 

        skoobey
        • 4 Months Ago
        @manure

        Only problem being the balance of the price. You do need to invest a lot in order to have that perfect polished product, but in order to get back the invested you need to send quite a few cars at a given price or you're operating at a loss.

        So, it's hard to just get into a segment with a competition this strong. Look at Hyundai, their premium efforts are comical. Not because they don't know what they're doing, but because you simply can't undercut the cost and get the same result. 50% more money will only give you 5% more refinement.

        So, how is Tesla doing it? Well, for starters, they left the profits aside for now. Don't be fooled, they are loosing money still. Second, they are operating in a niche market, so they are relatively safe. Also, they have silent help from Mercedes Benz, that is being kept under wraps, as both want to keep their brands intact.

      Nicholas
      • 4 Months Ago

      I've always thought of Alfas as a poor man's Maserati.  Italian character, performance, and priced reasonably.  Wonderful to drive when they start.  FCA would be wise to pour funds into and revitalize this legendary but troubled brand.  I for one would welcome the opportunity to purchase an Alfa sports sedan over a 3-Series or A4.

      sinistro79
      • 4 Months Ago

      I really want Alfa to succeed.  The rivalry that the high end Italian brands use to have with their German counterparts helped to produce some of the most interesting and dynamic cars of the pre and early post war eras.  

      Since the Italians have fallen behind in the premium segment, the Germans have grown comfortably stale with their designs within it.  Hopefully, this will change with the re-emergence of Alfa Romeo as a serious contender on the international spectrum.

        Vwfanatic
        • 4 Months Ago
        @sinistro79

        Alfa has been on deaths doorway for decades now and has no creditability as a high end Italian brand, that was Lancia's job, remember? With Lancia becoming rebadged Dodges, Alfa is destined to be the bastard child of a Maserati and FIAT. 

      mikeam91
      • 4 Months Ago

      At this point I really don't care if the 4C ever gets here. The car, as great as it may be, has bored me to death waiting for its arrival. Part of the allure when a new car goes on sale is its newness and the 4C has been teased so much it already feels old.

        r_dezi
        • 4 Months Ago
        @mikeam91

        Blame the media for teasing you so much mikie, not Alfa.

          Pault
          • 4 Months Ago
          @r_dezi

          The media is not to blame for 10+ years of false promises.. source lifelong alfisti.


      Todd Manus
      • 4 Months Ago

      Hahaha... I don't believe anything related to the 4C... it is still vaporware to me.

      I believe it when I see it.  

        lasertekk
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Todd Manus

        You do realize that owners in other parts of the civilized world have already taken possession of theirs?  Ask them if they perceive them as 'vaporware', or does that fact evade you?

      cruzer
      • 4 Months Ago

      Alfa Romeo? Lol jeez. They should have kept Chrysler as the luxury brand and Dodge as the mainstream brand. They could have really made Chrysler into a real luxury brand. But it's owned by Italians now so we get crap like Alfa instead. *shakes head*

        quuppa70
        • 4 Months Ago
        @cruzer

        Alfa is not luxury its sport brand, Chrysler can keep "luxury"

          cruzer
          • 4 Months Ago
          @quuppa70

          Here in the US their new strategy is Chrysler for mainstream and Alfa for luxury.

          TomazHilton
          • 4 Months Ago
          @quuppa70

          Chrysler ISNT and NEVER WAS a Luxury Brand, it was always Entry Luxury aka Premium brand. Luxury Chryslers were known as "Imperial's"

        Mr.Roadrage
        • 4 Months Ago
        @cruzer

        Fiat is doing exactly that with Chrysler in Europe; badging them as Lancias and marketing them as luxury cars. Pretty misguided in my opinion.

          Bill Burke
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Mr.Roadrage

           Not misguided at all, just not as successful as thought The Thema is used by high level Italian government officials as their limo and the Thema has a small niche in the Mercedes/BMW segment in Italy and France. They are not selling that well, although a saw more than a few in Rome and Paris a couple of months back, but the "luxury" identity is clearly the way Europeans regard the Lancia/Chrysler 300. It may be an uphill battle in Europe, but I think it's a battle that can be won by Lancia.

      Bill Burke
      • 4 Months Ago
       Dodge is in it with them. Rest assured Dodge will make it work.
      GeorgeL
      • 4 Months Ago

      They start on the wrong foot.  After the 4C they want to bring a sedan?  Alfa's are not for sedans.  They need to bring the Alfa - Miata first and make it super reliable.  Then continue in that line and overdo the zoom zoom, which is what Alfa always stood for.

      Vwfanatic
      • 4 Months Ago

      Alfa needs a lower priced volume producer to anchor the Alfa Romeo brand as a real player in the US market.  The drip drip introduction of high priced exclusive models does little to reestablish a brand that has been missing for decades. Without a serious volume producer, Alfa's dream of selling 400,000 cars by 2018 is likely to be a nightmare.

      Bill Burke
      • 4 Months Ago

       I believe that the success of Alfa hinges on it's relationship with Dodge. The new midsize platform will be shared with a relaunched Dodge Avenger and the large sedan is to be based off the Dodge Charger or shorter Challenger platform. Where these products will be assembled is a question, since Sergio has vowed that all Alfa's will be built in Italy. I think they will as promised, as Alfa Romeo's, since I see the large sedan sharing manufacturing space with Maserati with their Chrysler derived large sedans and Dodge building state side it's version of the midsize sedan in a factory where a number of variations off this platform (sedan, coupe,hatchback) can be built. Alf's version will be built in Italy, with it's own spin offs. Works.

       A real problem will be the ability of FCA of keeping the two brands and their products very different in content, style and pricing and hiding, as best as possible, their common roots. As stated, this "magic trick"will be the key to their mutual success. I'm betting that the appeal to different demographic markets and the deep American roots of Dodge and Italian roots of Alfa Romeo will accomplish this task. Both Dodge and Alfa will prosper under this relationship, I predict..... FCA is betting on it.

      Gabbo
      • 4 Months Ago

      Cool looking car, but I really can't see them selling in the large numbers that Sergio - and Reid Bigland - are hoping.    I see them as a novelty, and not much more .... witness the various Fiat 500 iterations. 

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