Report: Alfa Romeo’s Return to U.S. Delayed Again

Hoping to buy a new Alfa Romeo on American soil? Don’t hold your breath: Automotive News reports that the Italian marque’s re-entry to the U.S. market has once again been delayed. This time, much of the delay stems from Alfa parent Fiat’s continuing struggles as economy uncertainty grips the European new-car market.

Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne had originally hoped that Alfa Romeo would sell a few copies of the 4C sports coupe in the U.S. this year, then return to the American market in earnest in mid-2013 with a crossover and a mid-size sedan. Now, however, it seems that the 4C won’t even be shown in production form until the Detroit auto show in January 2013. Most other new Alfas won’t arrive on our shores until 2014 or later.

The Alfa Romeo 4C (the concept version is pictured) is a compact sports coupe powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine expected to make anything from 235 hp to 296 hp. The lightweight model will only be sold in small numbers and should use a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission developed by Fiat. The car should go on sale stateside in 2013, marking a tentative reappearance here for the Italian company. Alfa also is considering a 4C Spider, which would reportedly use a removable carbon-fiber roof.

As we have previously reported, the Giulia sedan is due in 2014. It will be built in the U.S. on a version of the CUSW chassis used for the 2013 Dodge Dart, and also will be twinned with the next Chrysler 200. In addition to sales here, the car will be exported to Europe as a replacement for the Alfa Romeo 159 sedan and Sportwagon. We’ve previously heard the Giulia could use a 3.2-liter version of Chrysler’s Pentastar V-6 upgraded with Fiat’s fuel-saving MultAir technology, and now Automotive News suggests a 3.6-liter version of that engine also will be offered. A nine-speed automatic transmission sourced from German supplier ZF should be standard.

Alfa Romeo reportedly canceled plans to bring a version of the next-generation MiTo subcompact to America. Development of that model in Europe was killed because a faltering economy forced CEO Marchionne to delay the redesign project. Alfa also has nixed any plans to bring the Giulietta hatchback here, as federalizing it for American regulations would be too costly. However, the next-generation Giulietta might be designed from the outset for sale both in Europe and America. It could bow in the U.S. by the end of this decade.

The automaker also canceled plans for a large sedan that was supposed to launch in 2014. Plans for a compact crossover, once tied to a Fiat plant in Turin, Italy, have also been shelved.

Alfa Romeo is still planning to launch a midsize SUV that will be twinned with the next Jeep Liberty. Expect the Jeep version to arrive next year, while the Alfa will go on sale in 2014. We spied a prototype of the next Jeep Liberty in April, and it appeared to use a variety of Alfa Romeo parts and a turbocharged engine. Its picture is in the gallery below.

The new Alfa Romeo roadster is on track to debut in 2015 and, as we have previously reported, it will be paired with the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. Alfa’s version will reportedly use a 200-hp version of the turbo-four engine in the Alfa Romeo 4C.

The bottom line is clear: Alfa Romeo will return to the U.S., but it will be a long and labored process. The Italian automaker can’t develop new products because its European operations are in economic trouble, but it still planning to leverage its partnership with Chrysler to co-develop models based on Jeep or Dodge architectures. Alfa Romeo is on the way, but don’t place any bets just yet on when the automaker will truly return to our shores.

Source: Automotive News

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