AUTOSHOW-Alfa Romeo expansion on track, Fiat Chrysler exec says

Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:03pm EST
 
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By Nichola Groom

LOS ANGELES Nov 19 (Reuters) - The sporty Alfa Romeo brand's growth into one of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' main global brands, along with an imminent U.S. relaunch, is on target, its North American chief said at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday.

Reid Bigland, who also heads U.S. sales for the Chrysler Group, said FCA's commitment of $6.5 billion to revamp Alfa Romeo makes the company's lofty sales goal announced earlier this year "achievable."

The first shipment to the United States from Italy of 54 of the Alfa Romeo 4C, a niche sports car, was sent last week, Bigland said. They will be the first Alfa Romeos sold in the U.S. market since 1996.

The 4C will be followed by a line of Alfa models to be sold in larger numbers, but Bigland would not talk about the timing of future models.

In May, FCA announced that Alfa sales would increase more than fivefold to 400,000 vehicles by 2018, and that North American sales would go from nearly zero to 150,000. A relatively small number of Alfas have been sold in recent years in Mexico, but none in the United States or Canada.

Alfa plans to introduce eight new models by 2018. It is to become, along with Jeep, one of FCA's global brands.

FCA has previously said that the next new Alfa model will be introduced in mid-2015, but Bigland declined to say when it would reach the United States or give details about the model.

The 4C will launch with versions priced around $70,000. A base model that costs about $55,000 will be available later.

Bigland said that about 82 Fiat or Maserati dealers will initially sell the Alfa 4C in the United States, along with two in Canada. The sales outlets will increase to a total of 120 by the first quarter, and 200 by the end of 2015. (Reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles; Editing by Richard Chang)