Alfa Romeo is back in the U.S. after a 20-year hiatus.
This week, dealerships are starting to receive shipments of the low-volume 4C sports car, which starts at $53,900, said Reid Bigland, head of the brand in North America.
The plan is to provide eight Alfa Romeo cars and SUV models for North America by 2018, with total sales of 150,000.
Globally, the business plan is to sell 400,000 Alfa Romeos, said CEO Harald Wester, with 35 percent of sales to come from North America, 30-35 percent from India and the bulk of the rest from Asia-Pacific.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is investing $6.5 billion on the Alfa brand product portfolio, and work is under way.
“Finally, we have the finances, products, distribution and global strength” to make Alfa Romeo strong again, said Wester.
There is a dedicated tech team of 600 people working on new products in an undisclosed location in Italy, Wester said.
The next vehicle for the brand will be shown in June at the opening of the Alfa Romeo museum that has been closed for renovations for years, Wester said. The event will mark the 105th anniversary of the brand.
The “specific version” of the second model will also be sold in low volumes initially until its global rollout in the fourth quarter of 2016, Wester said. But once Alfa gets going, “we will present product after product, one after the other.”
There are now 82 dealers in the U.S., of which 78 are dual Alfa/Fiat and four are Maserati/Alfa dealers. There are another two dealers in Canada: a Ferrari/Maserati/Alfa dealer in Toronto and an Alfa/Fiat dealer in Montreal.
The plant is to grow to 120 dealers by the first quarter of 2015 and 200 a year later.
Bigland said there is a lot of interest in new dealerships, but expansion will be slow given that there is only one model available so far and demand could easily follow the situation in Europe, where there is an 18-month wait. In North America, each dealer will get two 4Cs to start, but dealers are already oversubscribed with orders and not taking deposits anymore.