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Alfa Romeo’s return to North America has been delayed at least a half year
10.04.2011, Hakulinen Yrjö

Alfa Romeo’s return to North America has been delayed at least a half year partly because Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is not satisfied with the design of the cars that will lead the brand’s comeback in the crucial market, people with direct knowledge of the matter told Automotive News Europe.

The delay also is a serious blow to Alfa in Europe because without the Giulia mid-sized sedan and station wagon the automaker will have one of the weakest premium brand lineups in Europe. Alfa parent Fiat S.p.A. has pushed back the arrival of the Giulia models to mid-2013 from late 2012, the sources said. They blamed the delay on manufacturing and styling issues with the cars, adding that Marchionne was not pleased with proposals he has seen from Alfa’s creative team in Turin. A Fiat spokesman declined to comment when asked about the delay. Another factor slowing the Giulia's launch, the sources said, is that Marchionne is not happy with the design proposals he’s seen from Chrysler’s U.S.-based stylists in Auburn Hills, Michigan, for the Giulia’s two siblings, the replacements for the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, which are due in 2013. The timing of the three mid-sized models is linked because they will share a platform, powertrains and major subsystems. Fiat owns 25 percent of Chrysler Group and is working to integrate the Italian and U.S. automakers.

With the Giulia stalled, the next all-new Alfa that European dealers will get is a compact SUV, which Fiat will start building at the end of next year in at Mirafiori plant in Turin. Code-named C-SUV, the model will be based on the replacement for the Jeep Compass/Patriot, which also will be produced in Mirafiori both for Europe and North America. Until the SUV arrives in late 2012 to early 2013, Alfa will have just three model lines to sell, the MiTo, Giulietta and 159. Even struggling Saab, with two sedans (the 9-3 and 9-5) and two SUVs (the 9-4X and 9-7X,), has a broader lineup than Alfa. By comparison, Europe's best selling premium brand, Audi, offers 11 model lines. Because of its broader product lineup and more global reach, Audi reported worldwide March sales of 125,700 cars and SUVs. That is 11 percent more than Alfa’s total global sales for all of 2010.
A reason that Alfa’s portfolio is so depleted is because at the end of last year it stopped making the four-seat GT coupe, 2+2 Brera coupe and the two-seat Spider roadster. The earliest any of those will be replaced is 2013.

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