management, including Luca di Montezemolo, Sergio Marchionne
and Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, have been in Geneva over the last
two days, offering a strong hint at the carmaker's future
A new era in
Alfa Romeo's long and glorious history got underway on
Tuesday when CEO Karl-Heinz Kalbfell introduced
the new Alfa 159 and Brera to a packed audience in Geneva.
The build up to the launch of these two new models, has been
unprecedented. Spy shots, and even the most minute of
details to leak out, have been pored over and analysed in
depth by enthusiasts of the sporty brand.
Thus the day of the official unveiling, timed to
with the occasion of the highly prestigious 75th Geneva
Salon, finally arrived on Tuesday. All morning the three cars
(two Alfa 159s, and a Brera) sat tantalisingly under their
bright-red covers, which offered some hints of their size
KALBFELL - THE STRONG FUTURE OF ALFA ROMEO
By the time Karl-Heinz Kalbfell stepped up to the podium
at 1pm to make his speech, the stand was jam packed with
onlookers, eager to catch sight of the cars. It was truly
unprecedented for an Alfa Romeo new model launch, wave after
wave of the world's media jostling forward to get a better
view of proceedings.
In his upbeat
speech Kalbfell talked of the future, of how he understood
the brand, what it stood for, and how it was a gem waiting
to be unlocked.
This was the first time that the new CEO had spoke in public
of how he sees the future for Alfa Romeo, and enthusiasts of
the marque had been apprehensively waiting for his words to
be reassured that he was the right man for the job. And they
were reassured. In a polished and well thought out speech,
Kalbfell spoke of his plans, as well as mentioning, for the
first time officially, that a return to the USA was on the
MONTEZEMOLO - "five
brands, with different prices, clients and in some cases
Luca di Montezemolo, the Fiat Group Chairman, stated in
Geneva on Tuesday that the split with GM "allows us to
unpack our brands and give each one a clear mission."
Fiat now has "five brands, with different prices, clients
and in some cases markets."
He went on to
outline his plans: Ferrari "will always be at the top and
will never build four door cars or saloons." Next up,
Maserati who will target Porsche in the two-seat sportscar
sector, and at the same time go up against BMW and
Mercedes-Benz in the top luxury range four-door saloon
market. Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo's new separation from Fiat
will allow it to concentrate on the lower end of the BMW
product range, namely in taking on the BMW 1- and 3-series
announced that capacity would now be increased at Maserati's
Modena plant to allow for the assembly of Alfa Romeo models,
although these are expected to be strictly low-volume cars.
Alfa would concentrate its mass-production at Pomigliano
near Naples, while research and development would remain
concentrated at Arese.
MARCHIONNE - "THE FUTURE BELONGS TO US"
Marchionne, who is now CEO of the Fiat Group as well as CEO
of Fiat's Auto Division, was also at the Geneva Motor Show,
on Tuesday and Wednesday. Responding to journalist's
questions regarding the search for new strategic partners,
he would only say that "now all solutions are possible
and now having resolved the problems with GM, our future is
"A year after the next, but now let's try to finish this
year in peace", was his comments of questions regarding
an IPO for Ferrari, while he also reiterated that Alfa Romeo
would not be 'parceled off'.