DETROIT Jan 14 Fiat SpA's chief
executive, Sergio Marchionne, is still not satisfied that the
Alfa Romeo brand has developed the technology to beat other
high-performance competitors and has set no date for its return
to the United States, he said on Monday.
The Alfa Romeo 4C sports car, which may be unveiled at the
Geneva car show in March, is not ready for a U.S. launch,
Marchionne said at the Detroit auto show.
He declined to provide a date for when the 4C and other
Alfas could be sold in the United States. Fiat stopped exporting
Alfa Romeos to the United States in 1995.
Investors are keen to know more about the U.S. launch of
Alfa Romeo, since increasing Alfa's sales is a cornerstone of
Marchionne's plan to cut losses at Fiat in Europe by 2015.
Marchionne plans to sell more Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Jeep and
Fiat 500 cars in expanding markets like the United States in
order to return Fiat's money-losing operations to profit in
Europe and keep from closing down Italian factories. He has not
provided volume targets for Alfa Romeo in the United States.
"Alfa Romeo is coming, there is not a single doubt," he said
at a news conference. The 4C "is not where it needs to be before
it comes to the U.S. We will continue to work on that car until
we get it absolutely perfect for launch in the U.S."
Fiat's re-launch of Alfa Romeo in the United States is one
of the biggest challenges for Marchionne since Fiat took
management control of U.S. carmaker Chrysler in 2009.
Fiat has been unable to nudge Alfa's sales volumes
significantly since Marchionne took the helm of Fiat in 2005,
and his predecessors were equally unsuccessful. It sold 132,400
cars in Europe in 2011.
Fiat does not break out Alfa Romeo revenue figures, and
executives admit they are disappointed by the brand's
performance since Fiat acquired it in 1986. Volkswagen AG
has circled around it for years as a potential
acquirer. Marchionne said again on Monday it was not for sale.
Fiat's partnership with Chrysler gives the Italian automaker
the opportunity to adapt Chrysler's large-car underpinnings for
the new Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan and wagon planned for U.S.
The Alfa Romeo's technical performance must match the car's
racing DNA, said Marchionne.
The Chrysler platform will have to be "joined to the
technical capacity of a Maser and a Ferrari," he said.