Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson once suggested that if you liken the global car industry to the human body, Toyota would be the brain, Aston Martin the face, and Cadillac the stomach. Alfa Romeo? Alfa Romeo is the heart and soul.
Despite their emotional resonance with the automotive world, Alfa Romeo’s sales have been dismal in recent years. In 2010, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne predicted the Italian automaker would sell 500,000 units by 2014, but that number drastically fell, as sales slowly trickled in. In 2013, Alfa sold only 63,000 units worldwide. Not to worry, though, Marchionne has a plan to keep the car world’s heart beating.
According to a report by Autocar, Marchionne’s latest proposal is to restructure Alfa as a standalone legal entity within Fiat-Chrysler, similar to how Ferrari and Maserati are currently run. But it doesn’t stop there.
The reorganization is part of Marchionne’s goal for Alfa to compete directly with premium German automakers. Doing so will require new hardware. So new sedans, roadsters, SUVs, and premium vehicles will lead the charge against BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. The front-engine, front-wheel-drive 159 and Brera models have been scrapped, and new SUVs will likely be based on an existing Jeep platform.
Furthermore, Alfa is set to make its American re-debut in 2014, with the phenomenal 4C being the first to land this June.
It’s a large undertaking for Marchionne. But remember: this is the man who took Fiat and Chrysler, two companies on the verge of collapse, and made them profitable again. It’s safe to say that Alfa Romeo is in good hands. Marchionne is expected to announce his new strategy in greater detail on May 6th.
So, why does this all matter? Well, according to Clarkson, there’s only way to get into, as he describes it, “petrolhead heaven”: in an Alfa Romeo.