Italian firm faces sink or swim scenario as it seeks to prop up struggling Italian car industry with relaunches for Alfa and Maserati
10 February 2014

Fiat's finalised merger with Chrysler means it now faces a "moment of truth", says a senior Italian trade union leader.

The secretary general of the Metal Workers’ Union in Turin, Frederico Bellono, told the Financial Times that Fiat “is on the brink. If the premium strategy works, then that’s great, but if not Turin could end up like Detroit”.

Bellono was referring to Fiat’s plans to expand into the profitable global premium sector by relaunching Alfa Romeo and Maserati and, in doing so, underpinning Italy’s crumbling automotive sector. 

Last year Fiat made 400,000 cars in Italy, a total far exceeded by Nissan’s Sunderland facility in the UK.

John Elkan, chairman of the newly established Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group, was quoted as saying the Alfa relaunch was at “an advanced stage” and “the time to relaunch Alfa has come”. He also emphasised that Italy would be at the centre of the manufacturing investment. 

Last week, FCA boss Sergio Marchionne said the sales performance of Maserati showed that his premium market push was working, claiming that the brand was now generating “higher margins” than Ferrari.

Marchionne has twice cancelled plans for a family of all-new Alfa models but is poised to unveil the definitive launch plans at the end of April.

A new rear-drive and all-wheel drive platform for Alfa is being developed under the name Giorgio, according to Automotive News Europe. The platform is geared towards creating economies of scale for Fiat, and will also be used by the Chrysler and Dodge brands.

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Comments
24

10 February 2014
If only Alfa was paired up with subaru, then we would get the flat four/six engines and rwd that every Alfa lover pines for!

10 February 2014
If the future of Fiat hinges on Alfa relaunch then Fiat are dead,end of story,Fiat have
done so many relaunches of Alfa all of which have failed it's little more than a joke
That would be a shame.the 500 and Panda are both good cars and both sell well,as
for Alfa it will soon be so bad they will not be able to give them away !!!!..

10 February 2014
kendwilcox47 wrote:

If the future of Fiat hinges on Alfa relaunch then Fiat are dead,end of story,Fiat have
done so many relaunches of Alfa all of which have failed it's little more than a joke
That would be a shame.the 500 and Panda are both good cars and both sell well,as
for Alfa it will soon be so bad they will not be able to give them away !!!!..

It seems like the market and investors don't agree with your doom and gloom approach as the stock has been doing pretty well......

10 February 2014
Then it does look kinda pretty. And if it drives as well. Then Alfa may actually have a bit of a renaissance.

Appears to have been the right strategy to merge with Chrysler. That at least gives Fiat platforms with reasonable sales behind them. Hence superior cost structure than before. And thus chance of a survival.

10 February 2014
How is Alfa Romeo supposed to stay/become 'premium' when all they make is small cars like Fiat used to. Fiat remaining the Panda & 500 tiny car company. You surely can't pretend to have a 3 series competitor until you have a 5 and 7 as well. Audi wasn't really taken as fully prestigious until the A8. But Alfa is leaving that market to Maserati.

10 February 2014
concinnity wrote:

How is Alfa Romeo supposed to stay/become 'premium' when all they make is small cars like Fiat used to. Fiat remaining the Panda & 500 tiny car company. You surely can't pretend to have a 3 series competitor until you have a 5 and 7 as well. Audi wasn't really taken as fully prestigious until the A8. But Alfa is leaving that market to Maserati.

Last I heard was that the Mito and Guilletta were to be axed, the 4C and the medium/large sports saloons (possibly an SUV too) taking their place.

Big saloons don't sell unless they are premium, Mazda at least tried to push the '6' upmarket with Jag-style looks and equipment.

10 February 2014
sirwiggum wrote:
concinnity wrote:

How is Alfa Romeo supposed to stay/become 'premium' when all they make is small cars like Fiat used to. Fiat remaining the Panda & 500 tiny car company. You surely can't pretend to have a 3 series competitor until you have a 5 and 7 as well. Audi wasn't really taken as fully prestigious until the A8. But Alfa is leaving that market to Maserati.

Last I heard was that the Mito and Guilletta were to be axed, the 4C and the medium/large sports saloons (possibly an SUV too) taking their place.

Big saloons don't sell unless they are premium, Mazda at least tried to push the '6' upmarket with Jag-style looks and equipment.

They will most probably axe the Mito although that is not sure yet. As for the Giulietta it should carry on.
The idea is to come up with a "final" investment plan in the next month or 2 which should include:
Giulietta
Medium size saloon (3 series)
Large saloon (5 series)
4C
Spider (with Mazda)
Medium SUV
Large SUV

It will be a very difficult plan to achieve but Alfa has the possibility to achieve it IMO.

As for Mr Bellono from FIOM, he should just shut up and work instead of just complaining, FIOM are the only union in Italy that works with Fiat that has refused all contract negotiations and prefers to have its workers strike than work!

10 February 2014
Oh dear, you get the last cliffhanger determining the survival of Fiat, namely the takeover of Chrysler, only for another to come along. All rather reminiscent of the fate of the British Leyland empire which seemed to always be moving from one do or die project to another.

Can Alfa and Maserati be successfully relaunched and become a long term profitable marques in a global market? Of course they can. Providing ownership rests with BMW or VW.

Or perhaps Daimler AG should pursue a similar strategy as their fellow German counterparts and create a brand grouping, including Aston Martin if and when they take that step?

10 February 2014
I don't think Alfa should be made into a BMW/Audi/Merc rival, but a VW rival with some flair. Maserati can fill the luxury spot as they seem to be doing. Alfa can quite happily do (a much improved) Mito, Giulietta along with a larger saloon, and then a Juke rival based on 500x/Jeepster platform, Qashqai rival based on Giulietta etc. Having the notion of being upper class when they need a good mainstream brand that sells well, and with decent profits.

11 February 2014
Old FIAT GROUP structure did make sense; FIAT would have been the VW alternativshould have been a VW cheaper alternative, LANCIA would be the alternative with flair and ALFAs would fill the gap similar to BMW but on a more realistic budget. It does not matter though because any approach is proven in practice, and they failed big time! if you can not make a nice looking, well biult car with decent reliability nowadays , you are out of the market no matter your strategy and structure. When FIAT is dealing with small city cars, certain weaknesses are overlooked, but when you play in the big league, you can not afford mistakes, and they actually made a LOT. Just note that FIAT seems to be the only brand without a specific design form across the board - just when you would expect Italians to lead the market in that respect. All succesful or competing brands have a disctinctive kind of look across their product line and even TOYOTA has realised that (finally...). But FIAT is not succesful nor even competing anymore, sorry to say... We are looking at a slow death process - I do hope I will prove wrong.

:ghost:

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