Alfa Romeo is planning to use the four-wheel-drive underpinnings of the Jeep Grand Cherokee as the base for a second SUV in its line-up, ahead of its planned re-entry into the US market in 2013.
Already well advanced on a compact BMW X3 rival, based on a four-wheel-drive version of Fiat's C-segment platform, the Italian car maker is also preparing a larger and more upmarket SUV to go up against the BMW X5, according to its head of development, Harald Wester.
Wester outlined Alfa Romeo’s new model plans in a recent interview. "In 2012 we plan to launch a successor to the 159," he said. "At around the same time we'll introduce a compact SUV. A year later, in 2013, follows a new Spider. After that there will be an even larger SUV."
Nothing has been made official , but insiders say Alfa Romeo's future range-topping model will sit on the same GC-designated platform as the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee – a structure originally developed by DaimlerChrylser that shares elements with the structure used by the Mercedes-Benz M, R and GL-classes.
The big question is whether Wester will look to the Jeep Grand Cherokee plant in Detroit, Michigan to produce the large Alfa Romeo SUV or run it down production lines at Magna in Austria. With BMW and Mercedes-Benz already producing the X5 and M-class in North America, the first of those scenarios is not without precedent.
Wester says Alfa Romeo's long-term goal is global sales of 350,000 - up from just 120,000 in 2009. Alfa Romeos will be sold through Chrysler dealerships with their own separate showrooms in the US.