Fiat is taking its sweet time to make sure that the relaunch of Alfa Romeo in the U.S. will proceed without a hitch. There’s a lot riding on its success. Aside from cementing CEO Sergio Marchionne’s reputation, it will also justify the Chrysler acquisition. The U.S. relaunch plan for Alfa Romeo has been an idea that the company has been tossing around for quite some time. According to Tom Lesko, president of the Alfa Owners of New England Club, Lesko wanted to dub the club's 2004 annual Alfa extravaganza as the Il Ritorno or The Return. However, Marchionne delayed the relaunch and it experienced another delay after Fiat acquired Chrysler in 2009.
Lesko said that they had to revise the name of the event and instead, they celebrated the Giulietta Jubilee. Lesko was talking about the Nuccio Bertone-designed coupe that was introduced in 1954. What Alfa Romeo is preparing to launch in early 2013 is the low-slung Maserati-built 4C model. It is targeted at attracting buyers away from those considering the BMW Z4, Mercedes Benz SLK and Porsche Boxster.
The difference with this relaunch is that Fiat can tap into the Chrysler dealer network, factories and car platforms as it works to make Alfa Romeo a truly global brand. The relaunch could go either way – whether to be another bright spot in Fiat-Chrysler turnaround or a blemish on Marchionne’s impressive track record. If things go as planned, Alfa Romeo could be comparable to Audi, which made up 40% of parent Volkswagen Group's operating profit in the first quarter and which has also served as the technology leader for VW. [source: Autonews]