For the fourth time since 2004 Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is reported to have devised a new plan to revive the Alfa Romeo brand, this one focused on premium vehicles made in Italy for export to the world. Alfa hasn’t made a profit in the nine years since Marchionne took the reigns at Fiat.
Marchionne’s latest plan for Alfa will be based on a new rear wheel drive architecture (with all wheel drive variants) that will be developed by a dedicated group of engineers at Maserati in Modena, headed by Philippe Krieff. Krieff reports directly to Harald Wester, Fiat-Chrysler chief technical officer and CEO of Alfa and Maserati. (Read More…)
With the new Dodge Dart and now the latest Jeep Cherokee being based on its platform, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta has quickly risen to the attention of American car enthusiasts. As a product of a famed Italian company, festooned with racing successes and iconic car designs, it’s exactly the kind of car for which many of them were hoping. A sophisticated, lithe machine, using the latest clever technologies and designed by sharp-dressed men drinking small but deadly espressos. Certainly much better than the average plasticky American vehicle, indifferently conceived by a bunch of accountants. But is it? Are modern day Alfas still those beautiful machines with inimitable character, like they used to be? Or are the Alfas of yore just a distant memory and the company itself another victim of globalization and unification?
The last time Chrysler made a serious attempt at the C-segment was in 1995 with the Neon. High initial sales were soon followed by less-than-stellar crash scores, a redesign that put off buyers, the death of the Plymouth brand, and the unholy offspring that was the Dodge Caliber. With Fiat needing to add a “40 MPG CAFE” vehicle to the fleet to continue their acquisition, the Dodge Dart was born. This first fruit of the Fiat/Dodge marriage isn’t just a rebadged Alfa Romeo Giulietta (pronounced Juliet-ta), and there’s a reason for that. Dodge wants a bigger part of the pie since sedans account for 80% of the compact segment. Rather than “sedanify” the Giulietta, Dodge took the extra step of crafting an entirely new vehicle that shares little with the Italian organ donor. Can some Italian spice give Dodge what they need to compete with the growing compact sedan segment? Dodge invited us to a regional preview event to find out.
Can you tell Alfa-Romeo had to change the name of its 147-replacing Giulietta at the last minute? And yes, this is an official image.
Alfa Romeo was founded in Milan some 99 years ago, but as a division of Fiat, it’s pulling up its roots to relocate its remaining 232 Milan-based employees (out of 20,000 employed there twenty years ago) to the mothership’s hometown of Turin. CEO Sergio Marchionne explained that the move is strictly business, saving the company costs by consolidating operations, but the move has one minor rub: Alfa had planned to revive the “Milano” nomenclature for its 147 successor. Obviously this proud reference to a local heritage that no longer exists caused a few problems with employees, prompting Fiat to hastily announce a last-minute name change. Rather than Milano, the name Giulietta will be used for the new hatchback. But the last minute irony-avoidance maneuver pushed back the launch of the new Alfa, which was supposed to debut with official images today. As Automotive News [sub] reports, “the decision left some monthly magazines scrambling as they had already received pictures of the car, which was badged the Milano.” Whoops! Time to re-order those decklid badges… unless the decision to go with Giulietta was inspired by the discovery of boxes of unused badging. Fiat made another such last-minute name change in 2003, when the ill-advised name “Gingo” was dropped in favor of “Panda” because its was deemed too similar to Renault’s Twingo.