Autocar's Steve Cropley caught up with Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne at the Detroit motor show to discuss the future of Alfa Romeo, his hopes for 2010 and whether he plans on committing to selling cars in the UK long term.
Is it true you’ve delayed the launch of Alfa Romeo in the US?
Alfa has been underperforming for a long time. It has been the most difficult part of Fiat’s recovery, even though on paper it looks so attractive. The marque isn’t for sale, or anything like that. It’s our problem. But we do have to rethink our objectives and be realistic with ourselves before we we do anything else.
Does that mean the US plans are off?
No, they’re being worked on diligently. But I want to see us achieve two things before we proceed. First, I want to see how well we do launching the Giulietta. From the technical point of view it’s a huge step forward, but I want to see how it fares. And I want to see how we can take advantage of that through the company. It’ll take about a year to make that assessment.
You showed a Lancia Delta with Chrysler badges and a Chrysler grille. Is that a real project?
The rebadged Delta could quite possibly make a Chrysler vehicle. Not far from now we may see an even stronger convergence of the two marques. In Europe, Lancia is an undersized, underdeveloped brand, with nothing bigger than the Delta. Chrysler, which has a true global reach, has nothing smaller. Put them together and you have a full lineup.
Doesn’t that damage the Delta?
Let’s get this straight. I’m not selling any Lancia in the US. There’s no structural conflict. We could have designed that car here. We could see the two converge as early as the end of the year.