The on-again, off-again, on-again plans by Fiat to return the Alfa Romeo lineup to the United States is on again. This time the Italian automaker is targeting sales of the sports cars to begin in the second quarter of next year.
Sources tell CNBC that Fiat is confident the Alfa Romeo 4C will be ready to roll into showrooms in the first half of next year, provided there are no further delays. "We should see it in the second quarter," said a source within Chrysler, which is owned by Fiat and the UAW VEBA Trust. Officially, Chrysler would not comment on whether plans are being made for the resumption of Alfa sales in the United States.
The Alfa Romeo 4C is a mid-engine two-seat luxury sports car. Originally, Fiat planned to start selling the high-end Italian sports car in America in 2013. As the year has rolled along, Fiat and Chrysler executives have said little about the delay.
Alfa's long road back to the United States
Ever since he took over Chrysler in 2009, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has talked about his plan to bring the Alfa Romeo back to the United States. Listening to Marchionne discuss his hopes for re-establishing the luxury lineup in the States seemed like a standard part of interviewing the Chrysler CEO at auto shows. But as good as it sounded on paper, the return of Alfa has been hamstrung by a host of issues including Fiat's struggle with the 4C engine.
In January Marchionne created a stir at the Detroit Auto Show when he told reporters in a press conference, "With all due respect to my American friends, it (the 4C engine) needs to be a wop engine."
Since then, Marchionne has made few comments about why it's taking so long to bring Alfa Romeo back to the United States.
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The return of Alfa next year would give Fiat/Chrysler a luxury brand in the world's most lucrative market for luxury automobiles.This year, luxury car sales are up 13.9 percent, almost double the pace of car sales overall in the United States. Fiat last sold Alfa Romeo cars in the United States in 1995.
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