The much-delayed Alfa Romeo SUV won’t be launched until 2015, according to sources inside Fiat. The new car, which has been on the drawing board in various forms since 2003’s Kamal concept car, forms a crucial part of Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne’s plans to reduce the firm’s dependency on sales in Europe.

The SUV will share its underpinnings with the forthcoming replacement for the Jeep Liberty, with many mechanical similarities to the Dodge Dart. It is expected to be built in Italy, as Fiat attempts to make more use of its under-utilised factories.

Alfa Romeo is believed to be the key to a more profitable Fiat, with a plan to triple sales by 2016. As a premium brand with an international reputation, Alfa has more reach outside of Europe than Fiat and more appeal inside Europe than Chrysler’s products. The SUV would also mean Alfa could return to the USA.

Demand for new cars in Europe is declining, while sales in the US have been increasing; Fiat is expected to report losses in the region of €750m (£641m) tomorrow. Alfa sales dropped to just over 100,000 cars last year, hugely short of the 400,000 target Marchionne set in 2010.