The new Alfa
Romeo Giulietta (above), which will replace
the Alfa 147 in the range this year, is set
to become a crunch model for the sports
centenary year has got underway with the famed Italian
sports brand's future becoming even more confused
although Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne dismissed at the
Detroit Auto Show notions that it could be sold but did
admit that it was facing a crunch year.
A battle raged
all last year over the future direction of Fiat Group's Alfa
Romeo division, whether to chase higher volumes or continue
to push into upmarket territory, and it was at the beginning of December that
Marchionne brought the boiling situation right out into the public
eye by openly questioning its future strategy, with the
timing surprising onlookers as his comments came in an
interview that overshadowed the official preview of the
Alfa Romeo Giulietta two days later, the brand's most
important new model for several years. "We
need to work a lot harder on Alfa to make an intelligent
decision that effectively preserves the highest possible
value to Fiat," Marchionne told Automotive News Europe
in an interview.
came in fact during a tumultuous week for Alfa Romeo as it was
also embarrassingly forced to drop the name 'Milano' for its new
C-segment car just days before its official world preview.
Marchionne hinted that after the launch of the Giulietta,
the name hastily very chosen for the replacement model for the
long running Alfa 147, there could be a product freeze or
that Chrysler platforms could underpin future models.
availability of D and E segment [platforms] in the United
States which are capable of being Alfa Romeo-ised is there,"
he said. "We need to look at the economics of that
opportunity," Marchionne added.
was borne out somewhat in the pre-Christmas business plan
that was presented to the Italian government in Rome when a
short-term (2010-2011) product plan contained nothing more than the
fig-leaf of a new 'GTA'-branded version of the Alfa 8C Competizione sports car
during the centenary year. On the continual repositioning of
the brand Marchionne also told ANE:
"We need to stop doing it. You cannot be a newborn Christian
every four years. It's the same religion, eventually you
need to own a religion and carry it to conclusion."
Christmas the Financial Times, and then last week
Milano Finanza, both claimed in reports that Alfa Romeo
could be eventually sold to VW Group if the Giulietta is a
failure, reviving a story that dates back
to a time when the German carmaker was reportedly interested in
acquiring the Alfa Romeo name. Rebuffed by Fiat, it settled on trying to turn
its aligned Spanish SEAT carmaker into the Group's upscale,
recent media reports have heighted tensions further over Alfa
Romeo's long-term future and yesterday in Detroit
Marchionne told reporters emphatically: "It is not for
sale," but he admitted that the sports division
presented the biggest issues of the three Fiat Group
Automobiles' brands. Marchionne added that: "we need to
sell cars, not talk about history."
he understood the problems involved that needed to be resolved
with the Alfa Romeo division. "We need to be realistic with what Alfa can
and should do," he told reporters in Detroit, but added
ominously that: "2010 is a make or break it for Alfa." He
added: "Alfa plays in a very, very difficult market because
strategically it has an ambition to go after higher end
German cars; when you look at execution it's been relatively