American fans of the Alfa Romeo brand are not the only ones to be upset by the Fiat-Chrysler alliance's most recent decision to delay the scheduled return of the Italian automaker to the States. So are the company’s newly launched Fiat dealerships that were expecting the brand to launch in late 2012.
While Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne never put it in ink, the company had told its 130 Fiat dealers in the USA that they would likely get Alfa Romeo cars as part of their franchise.
The Fiat-Chrysler alliance appointed a total of 130 Fiat dealers across the States, most of which already had a Chrysler store. The company gave dealers the permission to incorporate temporary showrooms in their existing Chrysler facilities, but required them to build separate and permanent stores by the end of 2012.
"Right now I'm pretty disappointed because I have a pretty big investment in Fiat," Carl Galeana, owner of Fiat of Lakeside in suburban Detroit, told Automotive News. "I built my store predicated on the fact there would be more than Fiat." Galeana added that the company had not told them about the new delay.
Another CEO of a Chrysler dealership with a Fiat store, who asked not to be named, told the news site: "This delay is not positive for dealers who have invested and committed to the Fiat franchise."
However, there are dealers who are not bothered by the absence of Alfa Romeo in their showrooms as they focus on the Fiat 500, 500C and the upcoming Abarth variants.
"Most of my customers are just happy with what we have," said Louis Perez, a salesperson at Fiat of Portland in Maine. "Fiat is a stand-alone vehicle anyway, and it works out well. We'll have an Abarth coming."
Alfa Romeo's revised plan calls for the arrival of the BMW 3-Series challenging Giulia in 2014, instead of 2012, while the company canceled plans to build a mid-size SUV in 2014.
A smaller crossover that was originally scheduled to enter the market in 2012 is now due in 2013, the same year that will (allegedly) see the introductions of the 4C mid-engine coupe and the MiTo subcompact.
In 2014, Alfa Romeo will present the two-seater Spider (originally planned for 2013) and the Giulietta compact hatchback, while the company's plan also includes a large rear-wheel drive sedan that shares its platform hardware with the next Maserati Quattroporte.
Story sources: Autonews [sub.req.]