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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 Ready to List on New York Stock Exchange

Alfa readying 4C with second model to follow, says Marchionne.

by on Mar.17, 2014

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne (r), with UAW Pres. Bob King at the Sterling Heights plant.

FCA is set to go NYSE — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the new company created by the merger of the Italian carmaker Fiat and Chrysler, the once bankrupt American carmaker, wants to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange by October1, says Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne.

The move would be the next, long-awaited step in completing the tie-up of the two makers who are officially incorporated in the Netherlands, though for now the new FCA continues to operate a dual headquarter strategy, with bases in suburban Detroit and Turin.

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“October 1. That is the target,” Marchionne said. “But it’s a target. It could slip thirty, sixty or ninety days,” he added, following a ceremony to market the renovation of the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, a suburban Detroit factory that was originally supposed to close following the U.S. maker’s 2009 bankruptcy.  Instead, it has undergone a more than $800 million upgrade to handle production of the new Chrysler 200 sedan and other products to follow.

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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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Alfa Romeo’s U.S. Re-launch Delayed Until Mid-2014

Neither Fiat nor Chrysler will offer reason for delay.

by on Sep.25, 2013

The Alfa 4C will make extensive use of carbon fiber and aluminum to hold down weight.

The long-awaited return of Alfa Romeo to the U.S. market has once again been delayed, Chrysler officials confirm, until sometime close to mid-2014.

But the precise reason for rescheduling the U.S. launch of the new Alfa Romeo 4C isn’t being revealed. The lightweight sports car’s European introduction is proceeding on schedule, with journalists from across the Continent getting their first drive in the 4C this week.

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Earlier this year, Sergio Marchionne, who serves as CEO of both Chrysler and Fiat, the parent of Alfa Romeo, told journalists “For sure, it’s coming back this year,” in reference to Alfa’s long-promised U.S. re-launch. The revival of the brand, which abandoned the American market two decades ago, was tied to the launch of the 4C. “We’re finalizing the car now so it should be here by the end of the year.”

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Finally, a 1st Look at Production Alfa Romeo 4C

Mid-engine sports car to lead Italian automaker’s return to US.

by on Mar.07, 2013

Barring a last minute hitch, expect the Alfa Romeo 4C in U.S. showrooms this year.

After an unexpectedly long delay, Fiat’s Alfa Romeo brand is finally giving the public a closer look at the little 4C sports car that will usher in its long-awaited return to the U.S. market.

The production version of the 4C, a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe, is making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show this week, and will go on sale in Europe, and then the States, by year’s end.

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A concept version of the super-light sports car was shown in Geneva in April 2011 and Alfa officials said then that it would be one of several models that they would use to bring the brand back to the American market after a roughly two-decade absence. But that revival — a cornerstone of the alliance formed between Fiat and Chrysler after the U.S. maker emerged from its 2009 bankruptcy – has proved far more difficult to achieve than originally anticipated.

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Chrysler Badge Vanishes from Europe

U.S. models will now be rebadged as Lancias.

by on Jun.01, 2011

No, it's not a Chrysler 300, but the newly reborn Lancia Thema. The Italian brand will now handle all Chrysler-brand products sold in Europe.

European buyers will no longer be able to get their hands on a car with Chrysler’s winged badge unless they have a source on the grey market.

Starting today, all products that were formally marketed under the Chrysler name will now be rebadged Lancia.

That’s the latest step in an evolving global strategy bringing Chrysler and its Italian partner Fiat ever closer together.  With the European maker planning to control more than 51% of the once-bankrupt American automaker before year-end, Chrysler and Fiat are rapidly consolidating product development, distribution and finances.

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The decision to abandon the Chrysler brand name in Europe wasn’t entirely a surprise.  Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, revealed plans to pair the brand with the long-struggling Lancia during a November 2009 media and analyst briefing.  At the Geneva Motor Show, earlier this year, a number of Chrysler models, including the Town and Country minivan, as well as the small 200 and larger 300 sedans, were unveiled wearing the Lancia badge.

“We couldn’t maintain the two brands everywhere so we had to decide,” Olivier Francois, the executive overseeing the two brands, told Bloomberg news service. “Lancia has a higher awareness in Europe, while for the U.S. and the rest of the world, Chrysler is a more global brand.”

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Fiat Expanding Line-up, Alfa Likely to Debut With 4C, Says U.S. Chief

Plans for Italian brands falling into shape, according to Soaves.

by on May.17, 2011

Alfa will turn to the 4C to ensure no one can miss its return to the U.S. market.

With initial demand for the little 500 exceeding expectations, Fiat is laying out plans for an expanded line-up that will bring additional models to the U.S., according to the brand’s top American executive.

Meanwhile, sibling Alfa Romeo appears ready to use a production version of the wildly popular 4C concept car to help re-launch that brand here in the U.S.

Despite a two-month delay in getting the Fiat 500 to market, this past March, sales are running ahead of expectations, according to brand boss Laura Soaves.  Demand for the manual transmission version are stretching availability of the gearbox from suppliers, she said during a dinner conversation on Monday.

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Now begins the brand’s expansion, the 500C convertible facing its big test as journalists flood into New York for a first test drive.  That will be followed by the high-performance Abarth edition and, then, a battery-powered version of the little 500.

Soaves has long suggested that what Europeans know as the Cinquecento won’t be the end-all-be-all for the U.S. version of the Fiat brand and she confirmed that another, larger model is now set to follow.  In fact, it appears several products could give Fiat a much fuller showroom over the next several years.

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Chrysler Will Pay Back “Every Cent” to Taxpayers, Says Marchionne

Reorganized Chrysler won’t “bleed to death” in a downturn.

by on Jan.13, 2011

Chrysler CEO Marchionne loosens up during a roundtable at the Detroit Auto Show.

Chrysler plans to pay back “every cent” of the money it was loaned by the federal government, said CEO Sergio Marchionne, and it will almost certainly do that before the IPO the executive said he wants to hold in the second half of 2011.

Chrysler is already planning to cover about $2.0 billion of the remaining $5.6 billion in loans from Washington, said Marchionne, who also serves as CEO of Chrysler’s Italian affiliate, Fiat.  Meanwhile, the maker will soon pay down $600 million of the remaining $1.5 billion it owes the Canadian treasury.

“It would be advantageous to repay it all” before an IPO, said the Canadian-educated Marchionne, during a meeting with reporters.  “It would have better optics” in the eyes of potential investors – and would also make it possible for Fiat to increase its stake in Chrysler from the current 20% to a majority 51%.

Earlier this week, Ron Bloom, the Obama Administration’s “car czar,” said that could not happen without complete recovery of the outstanding Chrysler loans.

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