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Alfa’s North American return delayed

by Bill Cawthon on

Alfa Romeo’s return to the North American market has been postponed again. Automotive News Europe cites sources it describes as having direct knowledge as saying the six-month delay is because Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne isn’t satisfied with Alfa’s design of the new Giulia sedan and station wagon and isn’t happy with the Chrysler design proposals for next-generation Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, which will share the Giulia’s platform and powertrain.

The new Giulia was supposed to debut in late 2012 while the new Chrysler cars were already slated for mid-2013. The delay will mean Alfa Romeo will be without a new mid-sized sedan and wagon. In fact, Alfa will have one of the smallest model ranges of any premium brand sold in Europe making Marchionne’s stated sales goals of 170,000 vehicles somewhat unrealistic.

Based on the latest adjustments, Alfa won’t have a full product line until 2013, a long stretch in a down European market and a tough sell in the U.S. market as other upscale brands have more extensive product offerings. However, it is critical to the longer-term success of both Alfa and the Chrysler/Lancia branded models that the new cars be competitive in the European market because similar vehicles have a better chance of doing well in the emerging markets of Brazil, China, India and Russia.

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 just-auto.com, 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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