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Fiat mulls investment freeze for Alfa Romeo

American Romeo: The next-generation Alfa 159 might be built on a Chrysler platform in North America.

Fiat considers donor Chrysler platforms for Alfa Romeo large cars

3 Dec 2009

FIAT is considering whether to freeze investment in Alfa Romeo after the all-new Giulietta replaces the 147 small car in 2010, according to Fiat SpA chief executive Sergio Marchionne.

In an interview with Automotive News, Mr Marchionne said a product-development freeze on medium and large-sized Alfa Romeo models was one of two alternatives Fiat was considering to stem the flow of losses and declining sales for the Italian prestige brand.

The other option is to renew Alfa Romeo’s line-up using Chrysler platforms, replacing the ageing 159 medium-sized sedan and wagon and the discontinued 166 large sedan with rebodied models built in North America but still unique to Alfa and sold worldwide.

 center imageLeft: Chrysler 200C EV concept.

According to the report, Mr Marchionne has ordered a review of Alfa Romeo to ascertain if the brand should be reborn through the new Chrysler alliance or left as is, with no substantial new investment after the Giulietta is launched.

That will leave a 166 replacement on the shelf, with the 159, Brera, Spider and GT continuing in current form. The recently released MiTo compact car is not subject to the current strategic review.

“We need to work a lot harder on Alfa to make an intelligent decision that effectively preserves the highest possible value to Fiat,” Mr Marchionne told Automotive News.

“We need to stop doing it (reinventing the brand). You cannot be a newborn Christian every four years. It's the same religion, eventually you need to own a religion and carry it to conclusion.”

As GoAuto reported last month, Chrysler’s global product portfolio outlined in its five-year plan includes a new medium-sized (D-segment) model line for Chrysler, a new large car for Dodge (E-segment) and, in 2010, a substantial upgrade to the E-segment 300C large sedan.

GoAuto understands that a Sebring-replacing ‘200C’ mid-sizer was intended to have been based on the 159 successor, the Giulia, while Chrysler is also expected to build a small car based on the Giulietta and a compact car based on the MiTo.

Development of the Giulia is now under a cloud, following Mr Marchionne’s revelation of Alfa’s strategic review.

The Fiat/Chrysler chief told Automotive News that the new Italian-American alliance could allow a high level of commonality between Alfa Romeo and Chrysler for the replacement of both the 159 and 166.

“Certainly the availability of D and E segment (platforms) in the United States which are capable of being Alfa Romeoised is there,” he said. “We need to look at the economics of that opportunity.”

Mr Marchionne also said Fiat would be clear about what Chrysler’s vehicle architectures were capable of offering Alfa Romeo when it presented its 2010-14 business plan early next year.

He was, however, adamant that Alfa Romeo would not integrate with Dodge.

“The heritage of the Alfa and Dodge brands is completely different, the DNA is completely different,” Mr Marchionne said. “We would lose a lot of the appeal of Alfa Romeo if we try to Americanise it through a merger with Dodge.”

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