UPDATE 1-Fiat Chrysler names first 86 Alfa Romeo dealers in North America

Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:58pm EDT
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(Adds comments from interview with Alfa executive)

By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT, June 10 (Reuters) - The first 86 dealerships to relaunch the sporty Alfa Romeo brand in North America, most of them now selling Fiat cars, were announced on Tuesday by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The 83 Fiat dealerships and three Maserati dealerships will be the first to sell the limited-edition Alfa Romeo 4C sports car later this year. It is the first time new Alfa models will be sold in North America since 1996.

Last month, Fiat Chrysler said it would increase its sales in the United States and Canada from zero to 150,000 in just four years. Analysts scoffed at that projection, saying that the company's plans to bring eight new models to market by the end of 2018 was too ambitious to be realistic.

In an interview in San Francisco, Harald Wester, head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati, said the 4C will be made in limited production.

"We will never, ever be able to produce more than 3,500 a year," Wester said, when asked about 4C sales projections. "So I expect a Ferrari-like situation (in) that you always have a long list of people waiting for the car."

Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said that the company will be successful and much stronger than it is today even if it misses the target for Alfa Romeo sales, part of a plan to increase overall sales to 7 million by 2018 from 4.4 million last year.

"This group of dealers represents the first phase in the Alfa Romeo dealer network selection process," Peter Grady, head of network development for Chrysler Group LLC, which is based in Michigan, said in a company statement issued on Tuesday.   Continued...