By Alexandra Burlacu email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Jan 20, 2013 10:04 PM EST
Alfa Romeo will hit the U.S. market by the end of 2013 with a 4C sports car, finally making its long-anticipated return.
Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of Fiat SpA and Chrysler Group LLC made the announcement, adding that additional details will become available in the next two or three months.
"For sure it's coming back this year with the 4C. With the Alfa Romeo 4C," said Marchionne after a speech to a Detroit businesswomen's group. "We are finalizing the car now, so it should be here this year."
Marchionne aims to offset Fiat's losses in Europe by 2015, and increasing Alfa Romeo's sales is an important part of that plan. As carmakers are increasingly seeking to expand their sales beyond Europe, the U.S. auto market is expected to be highly competitive this year. Fiat stopped exporting the Alfa Romeo brand in the U.S. back in 1995, so the model scheduled for later this year comes after two decades of absence.
At the Detroit auto show a few days ago, Marchionne said that the 4C is not ready to come to the U.S. just yet, but seems to have changed his mind in the meantime.
"It's ready," he said on Friday, Jan. 18. "It's ready in the sense that a lot of work has gone on in terms of architectures and models. We've got to make sure we hit the powertrains dead on. This remains my key objective right now."
Moreover, Fiat and Mazda Motor Corp announced a new deal under which the Japanese company will make a two-door Alfa Romeo roadster at Mazda's Hiroshima plant in Japan in 2015. According to Marchionne, the Mazda partnership will further support Alfa Romeo's return on U.S. shores.
The CEO also reckoned that Chrysler is close to signing a preferred lender for its auto and dealer financing in the U.S., but refused to disclose with which bank it was working. Last month Reuters reported that Chrysler was in the final stages of negotiations with Banco Santander, Spain's largest bank.
Marchionne did not disclose the name of the bank, but said the company is close to signing such an agreement with a financier.