Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has announced that storied Italian luxury brand Alfa Romeo will indeed be returning to the U.S. market, arriving by year's end with the new 4C — a lightweight two-seat rear-wheel-drive sports car developed in conjunction with Mazda .
Speaking at a conference in Detroit last Friday, Marchionne contradicted statements he'd made earlier in the week in saying that the 4C and Alfa's return to the U.S. had been intentionally delayed so the company could focus on Maserati brand instead. "We're finalizing the car now, so it should be here by the end of the year," Marchionne said, according to the Detroit News. "It's ready in the sense of all the work with architecture and types of models."
The Alfa 4C was shown at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. It will be built off of the next-generation
platform, albeit using Alfa Romeo powertrains that Marchionne insists will be built in Italy. Alfa and Mazda announced a joint partnership in May 2012 to develop certain vehicles together from shared architectures; the 4C and new MX-5 Miata are the first fruit of that relationship.
The partnership was formally signed just last week, which makes the 4C's arrival by year's end frankly curious, given the timing. This would mean that dealers have less than a year to get showrooms in order for Alfa Romeo, ordering signage and signing up for franchise agreements. It is thought that most Fiat dealers will also get Alfa Romeo shops, giving them some higher-margin vehicles to sell besides small cars, but no formal launch of the brand has yet been scheduled.