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Chrysler could be key to Alfa Romeo’s future

by Bill Cawthon on

Incredible as it may seem, the alliance between Chrysler and Fiat may be the salvation of the legendary, but unprofitable, Alfa Romeo.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both Chrysler and Fiat, which owns the Turin-based automaker, has ordered a strategic review that could either lead to Fiat shutting off further investments in Alfa or using Chrysler platforms to replace the current Alfa 159 sedan and station wagon and the 166, which has been dropped from the lineup.

Despite stunning styling that draws rave reviews, Alfa has been losing between 200 and 400 million euros each year for the past decade and last year’s sales were just over half what they were in 2000. Marchionne is now considering if it is worthwhile to invest in new Alfa development after the new Giulietta replaces the 147 next year. While the larger Alfas are slumping, Marchionne said he is pleased with the new MiTo, which made its debut last year and the new Giulietta.

Marchionne told Automotive News Europe that he can envision of high degree of platform sharing between Chrysler and Alfa, especially in the D and E segments, but he ruled out folding Alfa into Dodge, as has been rumored.

The final decision will come early next year when Fiat presents its 2010-2014 business plan.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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