|VW Chairman Piech says he is ready to wait until Fiat gives up and decides to sell its struggling Alfa Romeo brand.|
Volkswagen AG Chairman Ferdinand Piech has set his sights on Fiat S.p.A.'s Alfa Romeo as the next brand in his vast automotive empire.
Piech, who often prefers to speak almost in riddles, chose a frontal attack during Wednesday's Volkswagen media premier prior to the opening of the biennial Paris auto show today.
"We are patient and have time ... you won't hear anything in the next two years," he answered directly, when asked on the sidelines about repeated market speculation that VW is interested in Alfa.
A motor racing fanatic with an appetite for pedigree brands, Piech left no doubt that he is waiting for Fiat to fail in its efforts to fix the struggling near-premium brand, best known for the MiTo subcompact and Brera sports coupe.
Last year, only 102,000 Alfas were sold -- a decline of 1 percent from the previous year and far from Fiat's more ambitious 300,000-unit target.
Nevertheless, Fiat officially denies any interest in selling the brand.
"Alfa is the one brand with the biggest potential for improvement," Piech said, in a more characteristic oblique attack against Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, a highly respected manager widely considered to have rescued Fiat from failure.
Piech even made fun of himself a bit, correcting comments he made last September that a "dozen was easier to remember than (the current) 10" when it came to the number of brands controlled by Volkswagen.
"Thirteen is my lucky number," Piech joked with a broad smile spreading across his face.
PARIS (Reuters) 30.9.2010
(Automotive News Europe)