Hurt by slow sales and a shoddy reputation, Alfa left the U.S. market in 1995 to focus on its troubled European operations. Almost two decades later, the automaker is counting on a revamped lineup with an unmistakable focus on performance to lure Americans away from BMW and Audi showrooms.
The first Alfa product to land in the U.S. will be the 4C, a mid-engined two-seater that is roughly the same size as the Lotus Elise. Scheduled to debut later this year, it will be sold through a handful of the 225 dealers that Fiat hopes to have by the end of this year.
Shortly after the 4C's launch, Alfa is planning on expanding its lineup with a small crossover based on the same platform as the Giulietta hatchback and the Dodge Dart, as well as a mid-size sedan that is tentatively called Giulia. Once these models are introduced, Chrysler execs believe that Alfa will outgrow parent company Fiat in the United States.
"We think that Alfa Romeo will have a little bit larger volume than Fiat will have," said Peter Grady, the Chrysler's head of network development, in an interview with Reuters.
The crossover and the sedan are just the beginning of Alfa's global expansion. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has indicated that he hopes to sell ten Fiat and six Alfa Romeo models in the United States and Canada by the year 2016.
Photo by Ronan Glon.