Alfa Romeo is coming back to the U.S. next year -CEO image

Italian auto maker Fiat SpA will re-launch the Alfa Romeo in the United States and then China in 2013, Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne said on Thursday, without providing an exact time frame.

The executive, who is also the CEO of U.S. No. 3 automaker Chrysler Group, made the remark at the launch production ceremony of its joint venture plant with Guangzhou Automobile Corp in Changsha, capital of Hunan province in central China.

Fiat has been planning to re-launch Alfa Romeo in the United States for so long that the wait has become part of the Alfa myth, on par with its racing prowess, showy styling and distinctive engine squeal.

Therefore, keep in mind that Alfa Romeo has been announcing its return to the U.S. market, as well as various new models (anyone remember the Kamal concept?), for the better part of a decade now, so it is yet to be seen if the 4C – and Alfa’s other plans – are truly ahead of schedule, if not at least on time.

Anyway, the re-launch is being watched as one of the biggest challenges of the Fiat-Chrysler partnership, one which could be either a crowning success capping the Fiat-Chrysler turnaround or a blot on Marchionne’s track record.

One think is almost clear. The first Alfa to be sold in America will be the 4C model – The 4C will likely be priced in Corvette territory, and will feature a carbon fiber monocoque wrapped in carbon composite materials. Power will come from a 1.75-liter turbocharged four, said to be good for 296 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of around 4.5 seconds.