Marchionne Gives North America Priority Over Europe for Alfa Romeo's Future Plans

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Fiat-Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne, announced that he will appoint a boss for the Alfa Romeo brand exclusively for the North American market. This is because the Italian carmaker’s return to the US after a 17-year absence will be his top priority, relegating Europe, in which Alfa’s sales are disappointing, to second place.

“We are going to target the US market first and work our way back to Europe”, Marchionne said in an interview with Autonews Europe. “We have run market tests on the desirability of the Alfa brand in the US and, not withstanding our long absence from the market it’s still one of the best brands in the world. I think we need to go back and grab it.”

This comes in contrast to the common industry practice of pleasing the more demanding European buyers first, with many carmakers going as far as building design centers and tuning their models’ characteristics according to European customer preferences.

Marchionne admits that Alfa Romeo remains the biggest problem he has to solve after seven years at the helm of the Fiat Group as the Italian brand’s vehicles such as the Brera, Spider, GT and 159 "failed to reflect the brand's sporty character"

Initial estimates have proved to be unrealistic: in 2006, Marchionne announced that he would double Alfa Romeo sales to 300,000 units by 2010. He missed the target by more than a…few miles: last year the company sold a mere 115,000 cars.

This forced Alfa Romeo’s CEO Harald Wester to reduce the annual target for 2011 to 155,000 units, and for 2014, when the carmaker will have implemented its brand-new plan and begins to roll out new models, to 400,000 units.

On the other hand, US Fiat dealers, who so far only have the 500 premium city car in their inventory, will be more than happy to hear that they will get Alfa Romeo, too. Chrysler Group’s head of network development, Peter Grady, has noted that the Group plans to increase its Fiat US dealership network to 150 by year’s end, from the 130 that were originally planned.


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