Alfa Romeo’s U.S Launch Delayed – Again

Over 10 years is a long time to hold your breath. Figuratively that’s what Alfa Romeo enthusiasts and that automotive press have been doing regarding the “imminent” comeback of Alfa Romeo. Throughout the past decade the brand was said to be plotting its return to the United States market.

Aspirations of doing so got a big boost when the Fiat-Chrysler partnership was completed. Alfa Romeo, despite being a luxury brand, doesn’t generate profits for Fiat due to its low levels of volume. Management has decided this must change, and volume must grow – meaning that entering the U.S market is a necessity. That entry will have to wait though, according to Alfa Romeo Chief Executive Officer Harold Weste speaking with Automotive News.

Alfa Romeo sales are being delayed by about a year, thanks to the European debt crisis and a slowing global economy. Previously, Sergio Marchionne pushed back launch because he wasn’t happy with styling of the Giulia mid-size sedan. The Giulia was to lead Alfa’s return. That car has reportedly had three styling revisions turned down by Marchionne. It is now scheduled to arrive in 2014. Originally, it was supposed to arrive next year.

Now, the 4C mid-engined sports car in 2013 will be the lead car for Alfa Romeo’s volume return. The 8C Competizione super car has been offered before it in limited numbers. Leading in with two sports cars should help establish Alfa Romeo as a brand with a defined sporting mission. The next car to arrive will be the MiTo in late 2013, followed by both the Giulietta and Giulia.

Possibly due to Maserati’s volume expansion plans, Alfa Romeo’s SUV plans have been cancelled. The product shuffling and delays have led to Alfa Romeo cutting its growth target from 500,000 units to 400,000 units by 2014. Both are big increases over Alfa’s current tallies. Last year, Alfa Romeo sold around 115,000 units globally. This year it plans to sell 155,000 cars.

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