Frankfurt IAA

13.09.2005 For Alfa Romeo, Frankfurt 2005 is all about the new Alfa 159, and CEO Karl-Heinz Kalbfell was in positive mood during this morning's press conference, "Forza Alfa" was his message

For Alfa Romeo, the Frankfurt Motor Show this year is all about the new Alfa 159 sedan, and CEO Karl-Heinz Kalbfell was in very positive mood during this morning's press conference.

Four different specification Alfa Romeo 159 models are splayed out across the middle of Alfa Romeo's, long stand at the Frankfurt IAA, beneath a huge sign that reads: "159. The new breed of Alfa". A simplistic, forceful message that spells out in no uncertain terms that this is a car that has to be considered as a genuine rival in its segment, an real alternative to the establishment favourites such as the BMW 3-series and the Audi A4.

Alfa Romeo's CEO, Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, who seems to have quickly gained a strong affinity for the brand, despite being in the hot seat for less than a year, and is clearly a man in a hurry to get Alfa Romeo back where they belong, building stylish, luxurious and highly sporty cars. His forceful message this morning was upbeat and purposeful, and clearly he is relishing the task of rebuilding Alfa Romeo.

Being German, and speaking to an audience at Germany's most important motor show, his focus was naturally on the local new car market, which is the biggest in Europe. Kalbfell wants Alfa Romeo to quickly regain ground lost in recent years here, and is immediately targeting getting sales "back above 20,000 mark" annually. He accepted that much still needs to be done within the supply chain at Alfa Romeo and so he is working hard to improve the customer interface at dealer level, and to strengthen the management structures down to this level. Notables joining Kalbfell on stage during the press conference included the Fiat Chairman, Luca di Montezemolo, - who praised the Alfa 159 - and the new car's designer, Italian style master, Giorgetto Giugiaro.

Confident about the ability of the Alfa 159 sedan, Fiat's 'sporty' brand are now putting their money where their mouth is and offering all inclusive three year warrantees with all new purchases, a package that includes consumables. With competitive pricing for Italy having just been announced, the stage is now set for this car to be a winner with the European motorists.

Alfa CEO Karl-Heinz Kalbfell was joined on the Alfa Romeo stand by Fiat Chairman Luca di Montezemolo (right), who was very effusive in his praise for  the  new  Alfa  159  sedan

Karl Heinz Kalbfell

For Alfa Romeo, Frankfurt 2005 is all about the new Alfa 159, and CEO Karl-Heinz Kalbfell was in positive mood during this morning's press conference, "Forza Alfa" was his  message

The Alfa 159 quartet are joined on the stylish, simplistic stand by the stunning new Brera sportscar, which Kalbfell confirmed "will arrive at the beginning of next year", the GT Coupe, a 147 uniquely fitted out by a well-known sail maker, a Crosswagon Q4 positioned in a small, rock-lined pool, the executive 166, and finally - representing their fabulous history - the official museum's Giulia Ti, which was seen earlier this year in Geneva.

But the Alfa 159 was undoubtedly the brightest star, shining the way forward. So after a long gestation period - this superbly styled and built replacement for the much loved Alfa 156 - is now just open to ordering in Italy, which will be followed by the rest of Europe, imminently. The message that Kalbfell spoke in Geneva - simply that Alfa were back - he reinforced once more here, closing his speech today with the straightforward words "Forza Alfa".

by Edd Ellison in Frankfurt

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Photos 2005 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed