Luxury Cars: Fans of Italian styling are anxiously awaiting Fiat and Alfa Romeo's return to the U.S. now that the alliance deal between the Italian auto giant and Chrysler has been signed. Late next year we will see the first of the Italian runabouts, the miniscule Fiat 500, and after that there are the Alfa Romeo MiTo and upcoming Milano hatchbacks, though neither of these vehicles has been confirmed.
The reason being is that Americans still haven't fully embraced the concept of the hatchback as a useful, practical vehicle for families, and nowhere is this truer than in the luxury segment. BMW and Mercedes-Benz both make premium small cars, but neither sells the hatch versions in the U.S. And so it appears Alfa Romeo may follow a similar line of business logic, with the latest reports indicating the Giulia sedan--a replacement to the European 159 (pictured)--may be the first high-volume Alfa Romeo to return to U.S. shores.
Alfa Romeo's CEO Sergio Cravero has revealed to Italian newspaper La Stampa that the Giulia will come in 2012. He went on to explain that smaller cars like the MiTo and upcoming Milano are better suited for European markets, so any U.S. return is likely to center around the successful launch of the larger Giulia sedan.
Large sedans typically have more headroom in their price, meaning more profitability per unit sold compared to small cars like the MiTo. In the currently still-depressed market and with the American intolerance for pricey small cars, the Giulia intro may be the smartest decision.
Furthermore, the new Giulia will ride on a platform shared with Chrysler for another sedan. The question, however, remains: how do Chrysler and Alfa Romeo build the car to share a platform while maintaining sufficiently independent brand identities while also being competitive in their segments and profitable at the same time?
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