Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is planning to develop a new line of rear-wheel-drive sedans and sports utility vehicles for Alfa Romeo which high-end versions will be fitted with engines developed by sister brand Ferrari, sources privy with the matter told Bloomberg. The new models will be rolled out in 2016. Since Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne took over the top post in 2004, annual deliveries at Alfa Romeo dropped 56 percent to 74,000 cars.
Marchionne dropped in 2012 a sales target for Alfa Romeo by 40 percent, no thanks to a spending freeze in Europe that delayed the launch of new models. Now armed with more resources from Chrysler and a recovering European demand, Fiat could not afford to delay plans for its sporty brand. Giuseppe Berta, a professor at Bocconi University and former chief of Fiat's archives, remarked this is the last chance for Alfa Romeo, adding that Marchionne's “bet is a long shot.”
He quipped that to beat the German luxury brands, Marchionne needs to make Alfa unique – by using Ferrari engines and Italian design. Sources told Bloomberg that Fiat is mulling dropping the current versions of Alfa Romeo MiTo and Giulietta hatchbacks, which accounted for 99 percent of deliveries in 2013.
Fiat intends to boost the re-launch of Alfa Romeo by using Jeep's international dealer network, which could effectively widen Alfa's reach. Marchionne is set to unveil plans for Alfa Romeo in May as part of a Detroit presentation of the strategy for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.