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Luca de Meo, Alfa Romeo CEO Interview - The Cars We Need Now!

Georg KacherwritersTim Marrsillustrator

Q&A | Luca de Meo, Alfa Romeo CEO

When will Alfa Romeo return to America, and what strategy will you pursue?Our comeback cars are the 8C coupe and spider, which will be distributed through the Maserati dealer network. We are also looking at local production. But it's too early to talk about where, when, and with whom.

Will you export the new Mi.To small car to the U.S.?It's a key product for Alfa, with a projected 2009 sales volume of 80,000 units. Whether we bring it to America is a different story. Very small cars may not be the ideal number-one priority for a market like North America. And if you do a small car for the U.S., you may want to build it locally, or at least in the NAFTA corridor.

Is the new Alfa crossover that goes on sale in 2010 a must-have for the U.S.?Since this is not a conventional SUV but a sporty crossover, it should work equally well in both worlds.

What about a clear commitment to further improve quality?Consider it done. We have just invested about $300 million in a host of quality-related measures.

Alfa is missing one element that no real premium car can do without, and that's rear-wheel drive. We're working on it.

Could you be a bit more specific, please?Well, [it's likely that] the Brera and Spider successors will be rear-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive also would be perfect for a small sports car along the lines of the much-loved Duetto. Buying [the RWD hardware] from a partner may entail too many compromises, but doing the R&D work ourselves may be too costly. We have yet to find a scheme that works.

The 8C was codeveloped with Maserati and Ferrari. Wouldn't Maserati also be a good source for that new rear-wheel-drive architecture?That's a thought.

Jaguar is reportedly another alternative. After all, Jaguar's new owner, Ratan Tata, is a member of the Fiat supervisory board. This has not escaped me.

Will there be a successor to the 8C?On June 24, 2010, Alfa Romeo will celebrate its centenary with a rather special new car fit to forge links between old times and a promising future. Mark your calendar.