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Fiat to boost Alfa

By John Carey, 07 May 2014 News

Fiat to boost Alfa

Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Chrysler key to Fiat Chrysler global growth plan

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will invest €5 billion ($A7.5bn) in Alfa Romeo in the next five years, allowing the struggling brand to design, develop and launch a total of eight new models.

By 2018, Alfa should be selling 400,000 cars a year worldwide, a five-fold increase compared to its dismal tally for 2013.

These revelations were the highlights of the FCA Investor Day held in Detroit on Tuesday afternoon.

During a Q&A session after unveiling the group’s latest five-year plan, FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne made success for Alfa sound, well, simple.

He said there are “fundamentally only two competitors” for the all-new Alfas, which will be built on equally new rear-drive and all-wheel-drive platforms: “All the rest are wannabes. These brands don’t have the DNA.” Take that, Audi.

Marchionne said Alfa has the right image to challenge BMW and Mercedes-Benz; it just needs cars to go with the glorious heritage.

However, that has seldom happened in almost 30 years of Fiat ownership of the brand.

A successor to the discontinued 159 will be the first of the new wave Alfas to arrive, in the second half of 2015.

While a variety of four-cylinder spark-ignition and diesel engines are being developed for these cars, the Alfa plan also includes a petrol V6 producing 300-375kW for the inevitable performance models.

But it is the resurgent Jeep that Marchionne is counting on to provide almost half the 2.6 million sales increase FCA aims to achieve between now and the end of 2018.

The SUV specialist is on target to exceed one million sales this year, but needs to reach 1.9 million.

Chrysler is the other FCA brand being counted on to provide growth.

It’s to be transformed into a competitor for mainstream brands such as Ford, Hyundai, Honda and Toyota, with its model portfolio growing accordingly.

Marchionne said the new plan assigns clear roles to everything FCA owns for the first time: “We now have brands in the market that aren’t butting heads.”