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How Much of Alfa will be Chrysler-based?

by David Zatz on

Alfa Romeo will, according to the company’s plan, have a full range by 2018 — its current 4C small cars, possibly the continued Giulietta and Mito, and a range of new cars including two mid-size cars, two compacts, a full-size, two crossovers, and a new “specialty” car.

The question for Mopar fans is, how much of that line will be based on Chrysler vehicles, and how much will make its way back to Auburn Hills?

4C

According to various sources, and depending on whom one listens to, Alfa Romeo’s “skunkworks” is either building off Dodge efforts (which in some cases are built off Fiat/Alfa Romeo works), or are creating new cars on their own. The amount of money being spent argues against a completely new line of cars being developed solely by Alfa Romeo, as do statements made by Sergio Marchionne before critics made it clear that they did not want to see any Chrysler bits “polluting” Italy’s high-end Maseratis and Alfa Romeos.

Either way, Dodge is, according to many statements from FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, definitely sharing in at least some of these cars.

Maserati that might be the basis for an Alfa Romeo

The compacts are likely to have four-cylinder engines, and yesterday Alfa Romeo told us which Italian plant they will be made in. These are probably going to be twin-turbocharged or at least twin-screw-turbocharged. One source believes these will be brand new, at least in terms of the combustion chamber design, which will eventually be used across FCA. It seems likely that this is being developed jointly with Ferrari in charge.

The midsized car was, from prior statements and reports, to be version of the company’s existing midsized front wheel drive car, with changes to add a rear wheel drive architecture — no small change.

Now, according to our source, it seems that FCA is developing a completely new, highly modular platform, possibly for all eight models. This will, at the very least, bring about the midsize and large-car platforms.

Sergio MarchionneThis opens up more questions than it answers — what will happen to the aged Lx platforms, and the Lx-derived Maseratis? Will there be dual platforms, or will Chrysler and Maserati use the new setup? And who is creating this platform? Is it really entirely Alfa Romeo, under Ferrari executives? Is it essentially a Dodge-led effort, as originally claimed by Sergio Marchionne, again under Ferrari leadership? (Our bet is that it is a joint effort; while Alfa Romeo has its own skunkworks, where they draw the engineers from is another story, and one would hope that the Auburn Hills contingent would not, once again, be relegated to engineering trucks, while recycling imported platforms and architectures for cars and other-than-Wrangler Jeeps.)

In any case, the new platform might be used to develop a new Dodge Avenger, different enough from Chrysler 200 to justify a place in the showroom. At the moment, the plan is for a centrally mounted engine, entirely behind the front axle; Dodge may choose to elongate the front end and make it Hemi-powered, but probably not.

The Dodge will likely weigh more (less use of expensive aluminum and composites) and have a lower-power engine, but we’d expect both to have an eight-speed automatic. The Alfa might have a stick or dual-clutch automated-manual as well, and in most of the world, is almost certainly going to be diesel-equipped, while the Dodge will probably stay in North America with gasoline engines.

Maserati Levante concept car

The two crossovers are not going to be based on Levante née Kubang, as one would expect, but on that same modular platform. The aim is to meet or beat Porsche Macan.

The mid-sized  crossover, having rear wheel drive, could well lead to a new Jeep, either replacing the existing Cherokee or augmenting it. With a semi-clean sheet and rear wheel drive, which reduces some packaging constraints imposed on Cherokee and Renegade, engineers could create an SUV that outperforms the old XJ Cherokees and perhaps overcome the obstinate criticism of the hard-core Jeepers. Whether this is at all possible, we don’t have any idea, but if the Alfa crossover is aimed at sportiness with a nod to the SUV form-factor, it will be quite a bit of work.

As a side note, Dodge is getting a new crossover sometime by 2016. The Dart is also to be re-engineered, but that’s most likely the addition of a nine-speed automatic and some cost cutting and modernization.

We will start seeing the Alfa Romeo side of the story in June 2015, when the mid-size sedan will appear; a second Alfa Romeo is due by 2016. Chances are we will not see the Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep side until 2018 or later, if the investor reports are any guide.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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