2015 was a hell of a year for Fiat-Chrysler: market share increases and the successful flotation of Ferrari along with expert company management left stockholders very happy. Now it looks like FCA (under CEO Sergio Marchionne’s leadership) will dedicate that momentum to rejuvenating the Alfa Romeo brand in 2016 and 2017. It’s a challenge, but it’s one the company seems prepared for.
Alfa Romeo (ALFA = Anonymous Lombard Automobile Factory) was owned by an Italian state holding company from 1932 until 1986 when it became a part of the Fiat group. In February 2007, the Alfa Romeo brand was transformed into the current Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Italy.
Alfa Romeo has competed successfully in pretty much every category of motorsport, including Grand Prix motor racing, Formula One, sports car racing, touring car racing, and rallies. The company won the inaugural world championship for Grand Prix cars in 1925 and holds the world’s title of the most wins of any marquee car in the world.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed to analysts earlier this month that one of the vehicles in the planned Alfa Romeo North American resurgence will be an SUV, slated for production by the middle of 2016. The SUV will be one of eight new models the automaker plans to launch by 2018 as it spends $5.6 to re-introduce the brand globally.
The first in that line of vehicles — the Giulia sedan — was unveiled in November 2015 in Milan, Italy. Fiat-Chrysler CFO Richard Palmer said production of the Giulia will begin during the fourth quarter of 2016. It’s scheduled to go on sale in the US sometime in 2017.
Marchionne’s plan is to turn Fiat’s Italian auto factories into an export hub for Alfa Romeo and Maserati models with higher profit margins than Fiat’s. The plan, if successful, will help boost the profits of the company overall with its projected Alfa Romeo global sales of more than 400,000 by 2018.
The Alfa Romeo 4C was introduced in the US late last year, but the tiny sports car lacks mass market appeal and was only produced in a small volume. Those sales left many dealers understandably anxious to receive the Giulia and its sister vehicles.
“We are taking a very hard look at the sequencing of the products we are launching to make sure that we get the biggest bang for the buck from the utilization of the architecture in terms of volume,” Marchionne said. Patience, it seems, will be key for Alfa Romeo fans going into 2016.
Article contributed by Napleton’s Arlington Heights CDJR.