Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' big plans for the Alfa Romeo brand in the U.S. continue to take shape as former Ram Trucks boss Reid Bigland will take the reigns as head of the Alfa Romeo brand for all of North America. Bigland will also continue to serve as Head of U.S. Sales and President and CEO of Chrysler Canada.
Alfa Romeo is relaunching in the U.S. first with the 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C sports car, but Bigland’s appointment is more important to executing the ambitious plans for future Alfa Romeo products that were recently announced in the company’s Five Year Plan earlier this year.
“The addition of Alfa Romeo to [Bigland’s] portfolio of responsibilities is an indication of how committed we are to the establishment of this brand in the North American market,” said Chrysler Group Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne in a statement. These plans include a new midsize sedan to launch at the end of 2015 and a whole range of luxury vehicles from compact to full-size sedans all the way up to two SUV models and another sports car launching between 2016 and 2018. To accompany this push, Alfa Romeo will initially open 86 dealerships in North America this year, with many more to follow going forward.
Chrysler clearly sees an opportunity for the Alfa Romeo brand to capture part of the competitive luxury market. Putting one of the company’s top executives in charge of Alfa Romeo (Bigland is rumored to be a possible candidate for CEO down the line) is a clear signal that the company is serious about ensuring the Italian brand succeeds in North America. Analyst David Sullivan of AutoPacific also points out that Bigland has shown a great deal of success leading the Ram Trucks brand, which has grown significantly in the past few years from 212,952 total U.S. sales in 212 all the way to 367,843 total sales in 2013.
Sullivan also remarks on the current state of the U.S. luxury market, where established companies like Mercedes-Benz and BMW are in a competitive race for market share. “The U.S. is a hugely important market for [luxury brands], and Chrysler would like to have a piece of that,” Sullivan said.
Taking over for Bigland as the new head of Ram Trucks will be Robert Hegbloom, who is currently the Director of the Ram Trucks Brand. Hegbloom has been with Chrysler since 1986 and will join the larger North American leadership team with his new appointment.
Both appointments are effective immediately, so stay tuned to hear more about Alfa romeo’s future in the U.S. under Bigland’s leadership.