Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Alfa Romeo - returning to the states by 2050

It feels like Alfa Romeo (owned by Fiat SpA) might as well say, "we're coming back to the United States sometime before 2050". They've been talking about it for years, and finally it seems that the above pictured car, the 8C Competizione, will be available at Maserati dealerships for the 2009 model year, followed up by the 159 sedan, Brera coupe, and 8C Spider in following years (much less expensive models that will compete with the Mercedes E-class, Audi A4, etc.). Couple of reasons this is important:

- Alfa Romeo rules. In terms of production cars, they are way ahead of the curve in terms of interior & exterior design, using Pininfarina for their unbelievably beautiful models.

- Fiat was always a global giant, but now it appears their return to the US will be somewhat restrained, first sharing space at Maserati dealerships, and then attempting to break into the crowded mid-level luxury segment. The Brera should be about the cost of a loaded up Audi A4, and the 159 sedan will likely compete with Audi A6/Benz E-class/BMW 5-series, which will be tough but doable if they price it right. One of my friends asked me, "what about parts costs?" recently. Well, for a car like the 8C which will cost over $100K, parts will probably cost around the same as parts for a Maserati. But for the 159 sedan, Brera, and Spider, parts cost may be cheaper than people realize due to all three cars sharing chassis and parts with other Fiat models in Europe and globally. This could be a huge advantage...people don't realize that other European brands like VW, Audi, Benz, BMW don't have astronomical parts prices anymore, so hopefully Fiat doesn't stand out with more expensive parts than the competition.

- Alfa will likely offer a variety of engine & drivetrain combinations, as most of their designs (except the 8C) include a FWD or AWD chassis option in Europe. They also have a bunch of diesel, 4-cyl turbo, and normally aspirated V6 engines they can mix & match with many of those chassis. Toward the end of their first stint in the US, ending in 1994, Alfa was never known for variety, as their stubborn dealers figured the cars would sell themselves. It appears Fiat finally has a decent plan to break back into this market, albeit at a snail's pace.

- And, finally, if they do come back by 2010, I'm waiting a few years for a used 159 sedan to go on sale and selling my Nazi sled to go Alfa. The resale value on these will likely follow suit with Audi, especially in the Northeast where there's a glut of AWD luxury cars in the used market, meaning I may actually be able to afford one. Alfa doesn't really have the performance attributes of BMW on their lower scale models, nor the luxury nameplate of Mercedes or Lexus, but it'd still be f'n cool to own one.

No comments: