Tag Archive | "Alfa Romeo"

Chrysler Names Bigland to Head Alfa Romeo Brand in North America

Chrysler Group LLC said on Monday its head of U.S. sales, Reid Bigland, has been appointed to lead the Alfa Romeo brand for North America, as it prepares for a relaunch aimed at reaching sales of 150,000 in four years, reported Reuters.

Bigland, 47, joined Chrysler in 2006 as the head of its Canadian operations, a position he continues to maintain. He will be in charge of relaunching the sporty Alfa Romeo brand, which has not been sold in the United States and Canada since 1996.

Chrysler, which is owned by Fiat SpA, also announced that Robert Hegbloom will head its Ram Truck brand. Hegbloom, 50, was also named to its North American leadership team. He joined Chrysler in 1986.

Bigland is also a member of the same North American leadership team as well as being a member of the Fiat Chrysler Group Executive Council.

“Both Reid and Bob have grown tremendously as leaders in the last five years, and the time has come for them to have expanded leadership roles,” Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Fiat and Chrysler, said in a statement.

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Rick Case Appointed First South Florida Alfa Romeo Dealer

Weston, FL — Rick Case Automotive Group has added Alfa Romeo to the group’s growing repertoire of brands, which include Volkswagen, Acura, Audi, Hyundai, Mazda, Kia and Honda Cars & Cycles.

To celebrate the unveiling of the new store, which will take place in August, the group will donate the first 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C to live auction, with 100% of the bid amount over MSRP being donated to the winning bidder’s charity of choice.

“Alfa Romeo has long been recognized as an enthusiast brand name in the automobile world and is now reemerging as a major supercar contender in the U.S. market,” said Rick Case of the Rick Case Automotive Group. “We are thrilled to be at the forefront of this reemerging brand that is the hottest new car to hit the United States automotive market in years.”

Alfa Romeo, owned by FIAT Chrysler Automobiles, is an Italian-American automobile company that dates back to 1899. FIAT Chrysler Automobiles is made up of 13 companies, including FIAT, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati, Abarth, Lancia, Iveco trucks, Case and New Holland tractors and heavy equipment.

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Fiat Chrysler Recruits U.S. Alfa Romeo Dealers

Detroit — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is recruiting U.S. dealers to sell its Alfa Romeo models, a major step forward in reintroducing the sports car to American buyers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The company thus far signed 82 dealers in the U.S. and four in Canada to market the brand, Fiat Chrysler said on Tuesday. A new two-seater sports car, called the 4C, arrives this year. The auto maker plans to sell about 1,000 a year in the U.S.

After that, dealers will have to wait another two years to get the rest of the lineup, which will include a large sedan and a sport-utility vehicle that would debut between 2016 and 2018, according to a five-year plan unveiled last month.

“We require each Alfa Romeo dealer to have their sales and technical staff go through an intensive curriculum to ensure the highest levels of customer care and proficiency of the Alfa Romeo 4C,” said Peter Grady, head of dealer network development for Chrysler Group LLC, a unit of Fiat Chrysler.

For years, Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has pledged Alfa Romeo’s return to the U.S., but not until now has he moved forward with plans to sign dealers to represent the brand.

Fiat Chrysler hopes to boost global Alfa Romeo sales fivefold over the next five years, from 74,000 in 2013 to 400,000 by 2018, a goal that some analysts say will be difficult, if not nearly impossible, given the intense competition in the luxury-car market.

Alfa Romeo hasn’t been sold in the U.S. since the mid-1990s, but its relaunch here is crucial to the brand’s global ambitions.

The company wants Alfa to compete with premium car makers like Volkswagen AG’s Audi and BMW AG, which have much deeper pockets and an established foothold in the world’s biggest car markets.

Mr. Marchionne has acknowledged the difficulty of hitting the targets he has laid out for Alfa Romeo, but believes the goals are achievable. Fiat Chrysler plans to spend €5 billion ($6.8 billion) over the next five years to overhaul Alfa.

“It’s a big number,” Mr. Marchionne said at an event in Michigan last month. “That’s a lot of money to spend in a relatively short period of time to deliver eight cars. But we’re bent on doing it.”

Most of the new Alfa dealers already have Fiat franchises. The auto maker had promised them a shot at selling Alfas when the company relaunched its small-car Fiat brand in the U.S. three years ago.

Many of those dealers are now eager to get the new high-priced Alfa Romeo cars to help fill out their Fiat showrooms, which currently only sell two models and struggle to turn a profit.

Some Maserati outlets also were awarded Alfa franchises. The dealers are in 33 states, with the largest concentration of Alfa stores in California, Texas and Florida, it said.

Mr. Grady said Fiat Chrysler hopes to eventually have more than 300 Alfa stores in North America. That number would surpass Audi’s current U.S. network of 281 dealerships.

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Alfa’s N. America Return Pushed To 2013

TURIN – Alfa Romeo’s return to North America has been delayed at least a half year partly because Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is not satisfied with the design of the cars that will lead the brand’s comeback in the crucial market, people with direct knowledge of the matter told Automotive News Europe.

The delay also is a serious blow to Alfa in Europe because without the Giulia mid-sized sedan and station wagon the automaker will have one of the weakest premium brand lineups in Europe.

Alfa parent Fiat S.p.A. has pushed back the arrival of the Giulia models to mid-2013 from late 2012, the sources said. They blamed the delay on manufacturing and styling issues with the cars, adding that Marchionne was not pleased with proposals he has seen from Alfa’s creative team in Turin.

A Fiat spokesman declined to comment when asked about the delay.

Another factor slowing the Giulia’s launch, the sources said, is that Marchionne is not happy with the design proposals he’s seen from Chrysler’s U.S.-based stylists in Auburn Hills, Michigan, for the Giulia’s two siblings, the replacements for the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, which are due in 2013. The timing of the three mid-sized models is linked because they will share a platform, powertrains and major subsystems.

Fiat owns 25 percent of Chrysler Group and is working to integrate the Italian and U.S. automakers.

With the Giulia stalled, the next all-new Alfa that European dealers will get is a compact SUV, which Fiat will start building at the end of next year in at Mirafiori plant in Turin. Code-named C-SUV, the model will be based on the replacement for the Jeep Compass/Patriot, which also will be produced in Mirafiori both for Europe and North America.

Until the SUV arrives in late 2012 to early 2013, Alfa will have just three model lines to sell, the MiTo, Giulietta and 159.Even struggling Saab, with two sedans (the 9-3 and 9-5) and two SUVs (the 9-4X and 9-7X, which has been discontinued but still shows up in Saab’s European sales results), has a broader lineup than Alfa.

By comparison, Europe’s best selling premium brand, Audi, offers 11 model lines. Because of its broader product lineup and more global reach, Audi reported worldwide March sales of 125,700 cars and SUVs. That is 11 percent more than Alfa’s total global sales for all of 2010.

A reason that Alfa’s portfolio is so depleted is because at the end of last year it stopped making the four-seat GT coupe, 2+2 Brera coupe and the two-seat Spider roadster. The earliest any of those will be replaced is 2013.

Philippe Houchois, head of European auto research at UBS in London, said Alfa has suffered from a lack of new products before.

This has contributed to the automaker’s huge operating losses, which Houchois estimates equaled 15 percent to 20 percent of the Alfa’s annual revenues – or about 300 million to 500 million euros a year – in the mid-2000s.

He believes Alfa’s loses are now equal to about 10 percent of revenues – about 200 million euros – a year because its younger lineup includes the 1-year-old Giulietta and the 3-year-old MiTo.

Fiat does not release financial results by brand and declined to comment on the accuracy of Houchois’ estimates.

Houchois said that the only way Alfa will make money in the future is if Fiat and Chrysler continue to increase their parts sharing, which will create more economies of scale.

Despite its small lineup, Alfa aims to boost its 2011 sales to 170,000 from 112,000 last year. Alfa expects to sell 100,000 units of the Giulietta compact, 60,000 MiTo subcompacts and 10,000 159 mid-sized cars this year.

It remains unclear where the Giulia will be built.

In a presentation to bond holders held on March 29, Marchionne showed a slide that said the Giulia sedan and wagon, which will replace the 159 sedan and Sportwagon, would be made in the United States starting in 2013. A year ago that slide, which was part of Fiat Group’s presentation of its five-year strategic plan, showed the Giulia models being built in Italy and debuting in North America in late 2012 as part of the brand’s return there.

The Fiat spokesman now says the company still needs to decide where the make the Giulia.

In December 2010, Marchionne said “I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Alfa” come off the line at Chrysler’s plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Sterling Heights, which was once scheduled for closure at the end of 2012, makes the 200 and Avenger.

Alfa Romeo pulled out of the U.S. market in 1995 and has been mulling a return since 2000. The sporty brand failed to meet Marchionne’s global sales target of 300,000 by 2010. Alfa’s new target is even tougher – 500,000 sales by 2014 – including 85,000 units a year in North America.

Bernstein Research analyst Max Warburton doubts that Alfa will be able to achieve its sales goal.

“The Alfa plan looks more and more overambitious by the day,” he said in an e-mail reply to questions. “With just the Mito and Giulietta in the next few years, there’s probably not a robust enough platform of customers and dealers to power up to 500,000 units. Conquest sales in Europe and the U.S. will need to be massive to hit the target.”

Other issues that Warburton sees are the massive product development costs that Alfa faces to expand its model range and the high price it will have to pay to build a U.S. dealer network.

“Entering a new market means losing money for some years,” he replied. “And we all know conquest sales even in existing markets like Europe are horrendously expensive to achieve.”

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U.S. Fiat Dealers Likely to Get Alfa, Says Marchionne

TOLEDO, Ohio — Sergio Marchionne, CEO of the Chrysler Group, said that Alfa Romeo vehicles will likely be sold at Fiat dealerships in the United States.

About 200 Fiat franchises will be awarded this fall, mainly to Chrysler Group dealerships in metro markets friendly to small cars, Automotive News reported.

Fiat is preparing to bring Alfa vehicles to the United States starting in late 2012. Marchionne’s statement at a press event here Monday is the strongest indication yet that the two Italian brands will be sold together in the United States.

“It’s more than likely that Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands will be sold in the same” dealerships, Marchionne said.

For dealers who get the Fiat franchise, the addition of Alfa would be significant because Fiat now plans to sell only the 500 minicar. Sales start late this year, followed in subsequent years by other versions of the car, including a convertible, electric and four-door.

Alfa plans a return to North America in late 2012 with the mid-sized Giulia sedan and wagon, which replace the Europe-only 159 sedan and Sportwagon models. The Giulias will have transverse engines and front- or all-wheel drive.

Alfa officials are also looking at or planning a subcompact, hatchback, roadster and mid-sized SUV.

On Aug. 30, the company will outline its plans for Fiat’s U.S. rollout at a dealer meeting in Detroit. Marchionne said he will not discuss Alfa at the meeting.

At the press event here, Marchionne hosted Vice President Joe Biden, who said the U.S. auto industry is staging a comeback, thanks to federal assistance last year.

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