- Aug 23, 2014
Weekly Recap: Alfa Romeo's US plans take shape
Plus: Matthew McConaughey Hawks Lincolns, 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Gets 29 MPG, NHTSA Steps Up
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.
In a strong signal of support, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles moved to reinforce Alfa with a new head of North American operations, Reid Bigland.
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.
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.
Fiat-Chrysler has set a heady goal of selling 400k 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.
Other News and Views
Matthew McConaughey to hawk Lincolns
The Oscar-winning actor inked a three-year deal with Lincoln to star in its advertisements in a move announced this week. It looks like a smart move for Lincoln, as McConaughey, 44, should introduce the brand to a younger audience. His presence will attract attention from people who wouldn't normally look at the brand, but when they see McConaughey on TV, they'll at least look up and take note of what he's selling. Celebrities in car commercials are nothing new. Jon Hamm has voiced-over Mercedes spots, and Buick used Tiger Woods for years. The results are mixed for automakers, but signing McConaughey is a headline-getting move for Lincoln, which is sorely in need of attention.
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray gets 29 mpg on highway
Enthusiasts, you're consciences are clear. You can get a Corvette, and not destroy the environment. Plus, your purist souls are clean: this is still an athletic, responsive machine, as our Seyth Miersma observed during his test at General Motors' Milford, MI Proving Grounds. But you knew both of those things. The Corvette has been a reasonably fuel-efficient car, particularly on the highway, in recent years thanks to its lightweight design. Unfortunately, there was no update on the mid-engine rumors.
NHTSA launches online VIN search tool
Brilliant idea. Recalls are becoming more common as automakers do not want to be blamed for moving too slowly on safety issues. In spite of the controversy surrounding the recent GM ignition switch issue, recalls are a relatively routine event. Because of this, it very easy to miss a notification letter in your mailbox. This tool is easy to use, and it allows you to catch up on something that could definitely affect how your car drives. It's a government program based on common sense. Add your wisecracks in the Comments...