Chrysler Group LLC is cooling to the idea of U.S. assembly and sales of Alfa Romeo sports cars, the premium brand of new parent Fiat SpA, under a five-year business plan that focuses on domestic models.
Chrysler’s five-year plan to return to profit and repay government loans assumes delivering 70,000 Alfa Romeos in 2014, out of a global volume of 2.8 million. The sales “aren’t going to be material” to Chrysler meeting its profit targets, CEO Sergio Marchionne said in the company’s business presentation at its Auburn Hills, Michigan, headquarters last week.
As recently as August, the chief of the Alfa Romeo brand said the cars would likely begin arriving in 2011 or 2012. Early discussions in 2008 between Chrysler and Fiat about partnerships revolved around Chrysler providing a North American plant to build Alfa Romeos.
“What we saw from this presentation is that Alfa’s presence in the U.S. is by no means guaranteed and that Fiat is going to have to make quite a business case to bring them here,” said Aaron Bragman, a product analyst with IHS Global Insight Inc. in Troy, Michigan.
Alfa Romeo was last sold in volume in the U.S. in 1995 and exited as its sales diminished to a few hundred vehicles. It might be best-known in the U.S. for its Duetto Spider convertible driven by Dustin Hoffman in the 1967 film The Graduate.