Alfa Romeo leans on Ferrari for horsepower in brand's
overhaul Automotive News Europe | March 27,
2014 12:08 CET
MILAN (Bloomberg) -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is turning to the cachet and
horsepower of Ferrari as part of its latest effort to transform struggling Alfa
Romeo into a profit machine.
Fiat plans to develop a new line of rear-wheel-drive sedans and SUVs to
bolster Alfa Romeo and take on carmakers like BMW Group, people familiar with
the matter said. The models will start to hit the market in 2016, and high-end
versions will be equipped with engines developed by sister brand Ferrari, said
the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are
CEO Sergio Marchionne's plan to turnaround Alfa Romeo has been in the
planning for some time. Since the executive took the reins at Fiat in 2004, Alfa
Romeo's annual deliveries tumbled 56 percent to 74,000 cars. In 2012, he scaled
back a sales target for the Italian nameplate by 40 percent as promised models
were delayed by a spending halt in Europe.
Now, with auto demand in the region recovering and Fiat armed with more
resources thanks to the takeover of Chrysler, it may be now or never for the
"This is the last chance for Alfa Romeo," said Giuseppe Berta, a professor at
Bocconi University and the former head of Fiat's archives. "Marchionne's bet is
a long shot. To beat the German premium brands, he needs to make Alfa unique.
His best chance is Ferrari engines and Italian design."
Fiat is considering ditching the current versions of Alfa Romeo's MiTo and
Giulietta hatchbacks, which accounted for 99 percent of sales last year, under
the plan, which is still being finalized, the people said. The relaunch of the
Italian brand, which became a cultural icon with the 1960s film "The Graduate,"
will be boosted by selling cars through Jeep's international dealer network,
widening Alfa's reach, they said.
Fiat declined to comment on Alfa Romeo's past performance and future
development plans. The carmaker will unveil its plans for Alfa Romeo in May as
part of a Detroit presentation of the strategy for FCA, formed from the recent
merger of Fiat Group and Chrysler.
The revival of Alfa Romeo is key to Marchionne's plans for the merged
carmaker. With allure stemming from classics like the iconic Duetto spider of
the 1960s, Alfa has the potential to help drive profit for the group, in the
same way that Audi does at Volkswagen Group, by commanding higher prices than
mass-market models bearing the Chrysler, Dodge or Fiat badges.
Audi, the BMW brand and Mercedes-Benz, which have benefited from a rebound in
the United States and growing demand in China, have all posted global sales
records in recent years, bolstering their parent companies' earnings with higher
The target is to roll out at least six new Alfas in the next five years,
including two SUVs, to boost sales more than fourfold to 300,000 cars over that
time frame, the people said. The underpinnings of the cars will also be used in
Chrysler vehicles to spread development costs, they said.
Alfa's relaunch has to some degree already started with the 4C sports car,
which went on sale last year in Europe and will make its U.S. debut at the New
York auto show next month. The first model in the new push will be a mid-sized
sedan that may be called Giulia, reviving a model name from the 1960s. "This is
long overdue," said Roberto Ferrari, head of the Alfa Romeo dealer association
in Italy. "We've been waiting for years for a clear and definitive strategy for
the brand and a full lineup of products."
To broaden its reach, Fiat plans to sell Alfa Romeo models through Jeep's
1,700 dealers outside North America, giving it a distribution network that
better competes with BMW's 3,200 sales outlets worldwide, the people said.
Last year, 90 percent of Alfas were sold in Europe. The move is based on the
idea that both brands appeal to consumers seeking alternatives to mainstream
competitors and can co-exist because there's little potential that Jeep SUVs and
performance-oriented Alfa Romeo cars cannibalize each other.
"The strategy to mix SUVs and sporty sedans in the same showroom makes
sense," said Ian Fletcher, an analyst with market researcher IHS Automotive in
London. "But success can't be taken for granted." The new models and the linkup
with Jeep and Ferrari may not be quite enough.
IHS forecasts Alfa Romeo sales peaking in 2017 at 243,000 cars, 19 percent
below Marchionne's goal. Still, that would be triple last year's sales and the
highest deliveries in more than 10 years.
The growth would help fill unused capacity at Fiat's Italian factories, a
primary source of the manufacturer's losses in Europe of 520 million euros last
year. Marchionne expects Alfa Romeo to anchor his strategy to build upscale cars
in Italy for export worldwide to return to profit in the region. The new Giulia
will be assembled at Fiat's Cassino factory near Rome, said the people. The
engines, versions of the V6 powertrains Ferrari developed for Fiat's exclusive
Maserati brand and adapted by Fiat engineers, will likely be produced at sites
in Pratola Serra or Termoli in southern Italy, said the people.
"Alfa Romeos have to be produced in Italy with an Italian powertrain,"
Marchionne said this month at the Geneva auto show, where the brand debuted the
spider version of the 4C. "Some things belong to a place, and Alfa belongs to
Entire contents © 2014 Crain
Alfa unlikely to get Mazda-made roadster, sources say
Fiat looks to add car to another brand in family
News Europe | March 3, 2014 06:01 CET
Fiat or its Abarth performance subbrand
are likely to get a roadster from Mazda instead of Alfa Romeo, sources
Fiat and Mazda product planners plan to
meet soon to discuss the potential badge change for the MX-5-based two-seat car,
the sources added.
Alfa, which will debut a concept version
of its planned 4C convertible at the Geneva auto show on Tuesday, was supposed
to get the Japan-build roadster at the start of next year.
Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne,
however, put that plan in doubt when he told the Financial Times last September
that there won't be any Alfas built outside of Italy as long as he is boss.
Marchionne plans to stay at Fiat-Chrysler until at least 2017.
Marchionne reconfirmed at the Detroit
auto show in January that no Alfas will be built outside Italy, but declined to
discuss the future of the roadster that Mazda is supposed to make for
He said more details about future Fiat
Group products would be revealed in early May.
The sources say that Fiat's product
planners in Turin are looking for ways to fulfill the terms of their supply
contract with Mazda because walking away from the deal would be extremely
expensive, something Fiat wants to avoid as it aims to return to profit in
Europe by 2016 after posting heavy losses in the region last year.
The sources didn't say which other brand
is the most likely to add the roadster. Fiat's other near-premium brand, Lancia,
is not in contention for the car because Marchionne has decided to reduce the
108-year-old marque to a one-model brand, the Ypsilon, that only is sold in
Italy. Lancia will be discontinued outside its home market starting this
The planned 1.4-liter turbo-gasoline
roadster probably would be too small and underpowered for supercar brands
Ferrari and Maserati. That leaves the Fiat brand and Abarth.
"Abarth really makes sense for a
lightweight, small displacement, high-output two-seat roadster, which perfectly
fits the brand's DNA," one of the sources said.
During previous discussions about the
Alfa-Mazda roadster, Fiat said that the car would be an heir to the legendary
Duetto Spider driven by Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate." Mazda will build the
roadster at its factory in Hiroshima.
Entire contents © 2014 Crain Communications, Inc.
Alfa Romeo Disco Volante returns to Geneva, this time in green and gold
Touring Superleggera's Alfa Romeo 8C
Competizione-based coupe is built to order
Jay Ramey 11:32 am, March 3, 2014
Just about everyone loved the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante by Touring Superleggera
that debuted at the 2012 edition of the Geneva motor
show. The curvy coupe channeled the design of Alfa
Romeos of the 1960s, namely the Alfa Romeo 2000 and 2600 penned by Touring,
while appearing modern at the same time. The concept, finished in red at the
time, drew praise for its good looks, enough to make just about everyone forget
what sort of monster lived under that svelte bodywork: the Alfa
Romeo 8C Competizione, powered by a 4.7-liter 450-hp V8
good for a 0 to 60 sprint of 4.2 seconds.
Admittedly, Touring Superleggera could have looked for one of
Alfa Romeo's milder platforms when it came to finding a chassis for this
coachbuilt limited production coupe, but the carrozzeria chose the hottest
platform that Alfa Romeo had on offer to lend the car a pedigree which would
assure that its performance would remain up to date for quite some
And it appears that Touring isn't about to let this design rest,
which is fine with us. They're bringing a slightly tweaked version to this
year's Geneva show, one that was likely built for an actual customer. We thought
the original production prototype looked great in red as well as silver exterior colors, which we've already seen, but Touring
still wants to show the world a Disco Volante finished in dark green with gold
accents, which almost seem like Lotus' old John Player colors. (ED: Or the Bishop Don "Magic"
The Disco Volante is a bit color sensitive, with only lighter
colors being able to bring out the curves and the surface details, but this dark
green exterior color works far better than black would have. The gold details on
the wheels and the beltline accentuate the barrel shape of the body nicely,
without letting it seem slab-sided.
This is the third
appearance of the Disco Volante at Geneva.
There's a reason we keep seeing this Disco Volante at auto
shows: Touring is selling examples of this car made to order. No, they haven't
revealed the base price and we're quite confident there really isn't such a
thing as a base price, as each example is hand-built to order and takes about
4,000 hours to complete.
But if you wanted an estimate, the 8C Competizione itself is
just around $259,000. So just add the materials and the hours required to
complete this example. As the old saying goes: if you have to ask... it's
probably north of $500,000.
Last year Touring
Superleggera showed a production version of the Disco Volante at the Geneva
Entire contents ©2014 Crain Communications, Inc.
Alfa Romeo sets new U.S. return date
It feels like we've written this headline
Natalie Sejnost 4:15 pm, February 25, 2014
Fiat Chrysler announced that Alfa
Romeo will be making its triumphant return the United
States, with the 4C sports car arriving at dealerships in June.
This has been long-awaited news since … well, since Alfa bailed on the U.S.
market 20 years ago.
So where can you get one? Fiat Chrysler isn’t saying yet, with
spokesman Rick Deneau telling the Detroit News that the dealerships playing host
to Alfa Romeo have yet to be informed.
Alfa Romeo has been talking about an American resurrection for
14 years, but the rumors, to this point, had resulted in nothing but a handful
of uber-expensive 8C supercars sold via Maserati.
Fiat Chrysler head Sergio Marchionne has made the promise that
the Alfas are coming, but just the 4C sports car for now. The remainder of the
Alfa lineup, including the Giulia, Giulietta and the newly introduced Spider, are slated to make their debut in the
States sometime in 2015.
In case you’re unfamiliar, the 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C sports a
turbocharged inline-four mid-engine layout with 240 hp; that may not seem like
much, but with a curb weight of about 1,874 pounds, this thing is a relative
The 4C also boasts a 0-60-mph time of just 4.5 seconds, rivaling
any other readily available sports car on the U.S. market today. The 4C is
expected to start at just under $60K, which seems like a reasonable price
considering the rarity and long-awaited arrival.
The 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C
is slated to make its debut in June 2014.
Entire contents ©2014 Crain