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Ambitious Alfa Romeo Plans Scaled Back

“The expectations are not achievable,” concedes Marchionne.

by on Nov.02, 2015

A shot of the Alfa Giulia reveals the 4-leaf clover, meaning its the 510-hp Quadrifoglio version.

Mere months after unveiling the first of a wave of new products meant to transform Italy’s Alfa Romeo into a major global brand, parent Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s CEO Sergio Marchionne concedes the ambitious plan is “not achievable,” at least as planned.

The target was to boost sales to 400,000 by 2018, a nearly six-fold increase from the 70,000 Alfa products sold last year. To get there, FCA was planned to invest about $6 billion to roll out eight new models, including the Giulia sedan it unveiled over the summer. But the maker is now re-thinking that strategy, in large part due to the slowdown in car sales in China, which was expected to become a major market for Alfa Romeo.

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“The expectations of volumes (for China) out of the total pool of 400,000 cars are, I think, given current market conditions, not achievable,” Marchionne told Wall Street analysts.

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FCA Sets Ferrari IPO into Motion

Iconic brand intends to retain “exclusivity,” but changes are likely.

by on Jul.23, 2015

Ferrari's 458 Speciale A during its debut at the Paris Motor Show last autumn.

The spin-off for Fiat Chrysler’s Ferrari brand officially got underway this morning as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles filed the regulatory papers necessary to launch the long-awaited IPO of the iconic sports car maker.

Hoping to raise some desperately needed cash for FCA’s five-year expansion plan, CEO Sergio Marchionne expects to sell off 10% of Ferrari’s shares in the initial public offering. Another 80% will be distributed to existing Fiat Chrysler shareholders. The remaining 10% is currently held by founder Enzo Ferrari’s son, Piero Lardi.

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“It won’t be a difficult (sell),” Marchionne said earlier this year, reflecting the general expectation that investors will snap up the shares of Ferrari if priced properly. The CEO has said he expects the brand will be valued at around $11 billion.

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Alfa Gears Up – Slowly

4C Spider set to be followed by third new model “by the fourth quarter.”

by on Jan.20, 2015

The old Alfa Romeo 159 was sold only in Europe. It's successor will go global, including the U.S.

When automakers added up their sales numbers for 2014, the figures from Alfa Romeo amounted to little more than a rounding error. Returning to the U.S. market mid-year after a two-decade absence, Alfa managed to deliver just 57 vehicles in December.

“It’s a very low volume, and I don’t think anyone’s made any pretenses otherwise,” acknowledged Richard Cox, the brand’s North American director. That said, Cox insists that even those small numbers are a sign that Alfa is on the right path.

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It certainly has big plans. It introduced the new 4C sports car at the New York Auto Show last April. A convertible version, the 4C Spider, debuted last week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. And, Cox revealed during an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com, yet another all-new model will debut “by the fourth quarter” of 2015. (more…)

Midsize Sedan Likely Next U.S. Model for Alfa Romeo

Project 952 designed to replace old Alfa 159.

by on Nov.26, 2014

The old Alfa Romeo 159 was sold only in Europe. It's successor will go global, including the U.S.

After months of waiting, American Alfa Romeo fans can finally head to dealers for the maker’s little 4C sports car, the first model the Italian maker has sold in the U.S. in more than two decades. But it will soon have to share showroom space, according to several reports out of Europe.

During a day-long briefing on the company’s plans last May, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne indicated Alfa Romeo will be getting as many as eight new products, and during an appearance at the LA Auto Show this month, Alfa would bring the second of those to the U.S. next June.

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While Wester declined to say what that new product would be, it appears the maker will next turn to a midsize sedan replacing the old Alfa 159, according to Luca Ciferri, of Automotive News Europe. The maker apparently will go for a “tweener” strategy, much as Cadillac did with earlier versions of the CTS.

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Maserati, Alfa Romeo to Get a Flood of New Products

Two Italian brands stand to score big under Fiat Chrysler 5-year plan.

by on May.07, 2014

A production version of the Maserati Alfieri Coupe Concept should reach market in 2016.

It’s been a frustratingly long wait for fans of Italy’s Alfa Romeo, two decades of hints and promises that the brand was finally heading back to the U.S. market followed by repeated delays – Alfa only showing off its new 4C sports car at last month’s New York Auto Show.

While Maserati fans have had a little more to cheer about, the upscale brand has only just begun to show its potential with recent product launches like the new Ghibli and redesigned Quattroporte.

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But the two marques seem destined to have a much brighter, product-rich future. At this week’s day-long strategy session, officials from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles outlined plans that could see a flood of new products roll into showrooms for both Maserati and Alfa. In fact, the latter maker is set to benefit from a newly unveiled “skunk works program” that is expected to yield a full eight new models by 2018.

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Fiat Chrysler Hopes to Redefine, Sharpen Image as it Outlines Global Strategy

Tuesday session could deliver some surprises, sources say.

by on May.05, 2014

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne completed his long-sought merger - but must now show he can do something with the company.

Almost exactly five years after taking control of the bankrupt automaker, CEO Sergio Marchionne will outline his global strategy for both Detroit-based Chrysler and its Italian partner Fiat during a day-long strategy session this week.

The marathon meeting will be a follow-up to one that Marchionne and his management team staged shortly after Chrysler emerged from Chapter 11 protection in 2009 – a session that saw skeptics question whether the U.S. maker could survive, never mind flourish under Italian control. But five years later, that’s exactly what is happening, Chrysler last week reporting its 49th consecutive monthly sales gain as it continued to outpace the industry’s overall recovery.

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But the smallest of Detroit’s so-called Big Three has plenty of challenges to deal with – as does partner Fiat. Together, the newly merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will need to sharpen and, in some cases, redefine the identity of its various brands, roll out a wave of new products, and expand its presence in key emerging markets. That’s especially true for Chrysler which was pushed out of China after the collapse of its previous marriage to Germany’s Daimler AG.

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Alfa Quiet About Big News in the Big Apple

No news conference, but Italian maker marks its return to U.S. market.

by on Apr.17, 2014

An Ala Romeo 4C beckons NY Auto Show visitors.

Alfa Romeo is giving New York the silent treatment – which might seem odd considering it’s on display at this year’s New York Auto Show for the first time in years as it prepares its long-awaited return to the American market.

The maker had several products on display at NY’s Jacob Javits Convention Center but decided to forego staging a formal news conference, apparently due to the high cost of such an event, several sources told TheDetroitBureau.com. But they stressed that the Fiat Chrysler subsidiary is firmly on track for its planned mid-year resurrection – which comes more than two decades after it pulled out of the States.

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The Italian maker, long known for its sleek and sexy sports cars and other high-line models, will initially focus on the 4C in its bid for a U.S. rival. That’s a curvaceous little two-seater that will initially be offered at around $70,000, Alfa choosing to emphasize a heavily loaded version likely to appeal to “Alfisti” who have been clamoring for the brand’s return.

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Alfa Romeo to Launch U.S. Return at NY Auto Show

New Alfa 4 C could soon be followed by other Italian models.

by on Mar.24, 2014

The Alfa Romeo 4C will blaze a return to the U.S. market for the Italian maker.

Picking up on that old punchline, it was beginning to look like Alfa Romeo was going to be the brand of the future – and always would be.  The Italian maker has been talking about a U.S. revival almost since it left the market two decades ago. But despite a few abortive attempts – and an original plan outlined shortly after parent Fiat and Chrysler partnered up in 2009, Alfa’s American comeback has been repeatedly delayed.

Until next month, anyway.  The sporty brand has confirmed it will officially mark its comeback at the upcoming New York Auto Show with the official unveiling of the U.S.-edition Alfa Romeo 4C.  That’s only part of the good news for long-suffering Alfisti.  Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of newly merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, recently suggested that the Alfa 4C won’t be alone for long, with other models under consideration for import.

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“The recent announcement that Alfa Romeo is returning to the market and has chosen the New York Auto Show to mark the occasion is very special for us and will be well received by our visitors,” said NY Auto Show Chairman John LaSorsa.

Don’t expect a fast ramp-up for Alfa when the first of the 4C sports cars arrives in June.  The initial plan is to offer the exotic, mid-engined coupe, with its carbon-fiber body, in only a select handful of dealers handling another up-market FCA brand, Maserati.

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European Auto Industry Slowly Reviving – But Uncertainty Remains, Warns Marchionne

CEO says he's "generally optimistic" about the industry.

by on Mar.05, 2014

Marchionne tempered his optimism during his Geneva appearance, warning the Ukranian crisis could set back the European automotive revival.

There may be some light at the end of the tunnel – but there’s also a possibility it’s another oncoming train, warned Fiat Chrysler Sergio Marchionne, during a media reception at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.

The outspoken executive took on a variety of topics, from the crisis in Europe that has left key automakers struggling for survival, to the newly completed merger of the U.S. and Italian makers that began in the wake of Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy.

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Sounding at least a bit more optimistic than he did during appearances at the Geneva Motor Show last year, Marchionne said he is “generally optimistic” about the recovery of the European automotive market which only now appears to be slowly climbing out of its worst recession in decades. The downturn, he said, has taken out about 3 million units of volume annually, the equivalent of a dozen auto assembly plants.

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Alfa Romeo Blows its Top with New 4C Spider

Marchionne promises – really this time – a 2015 return to the U.S.

by on Mar.05, 2014

The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider adds even more carbon fiber bits than the original Coupe.

Exactly two years after revealing its 4C Coupe, Alfa Romeo had another surprise for the Geneva Motor Show, rolling out a canvas-topped version of the little sports car, while also giving more hope to frustrated American buyers still waiting for the 4C to make its jump across the Atlantic.

Like the hardtop version, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider uses a stiff and lightweight carbon fiber tub, a rarity for even today’s much-more expensive supercars.  And the new rollover bars, spoilers and windshield frame of the show car also are made of the exotic material – along with various cockpit bits. That helps keep the weight of the convertible to just 132 pounds more than the Coupe, Alfa revealed.

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The distinctive, centrally mounted twin exhaust pipes, meanwhile, are produced from a carbon/titanium blend and supplied by exhaust specialist Akrapovic, better known for its work with the motorcycle industry.  The goal was to give the 4C a loud bark, though the Geneva concept vehicle also allows a motorist to lower the volume with the touch of a button.

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