Tiny Alfa Romeo, indirectly owned by the Italian government and currently selling less than 4 percent of its output in the United States, has big plans for sales in America. Alfa Romo? Big plans for the United States?
Yes, and few things like those plans of Alfar Romeo illustrate the extent of the turmoil in the automotive industry worldwide.
Aldo Bozzi, chief executive officer of the American arm, said here last week that the Italian auto maker's total output is in the neighborhood of 200,000 carsd a year. But Alfa Romo expects to sell a record 9,000 cars here in 1979, between 11,000 and 12,000 the following year, and maybe 20,000 in 1985.
For some context to that, remember that less than a month ago, the head of General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac division said that by the 1980s, he expects, conservatively, to be exporting something like 15,000 to 20,000 U.S. made Cadillacs to Europe.
And the head of GM's Pontiac division, Alex C. Mair said "our plans are to gradually increase" overseas sales until they become a significant portion of our business." Mair specifically mentioned sales in the range of 100,000 annually within eight years.
Last week, Alfa's Bozzi said the reason for the renewed and increased attention to the U.S. market is that "it's the leading auto market in the world." Morre than a third of the company's current U.S. sales, roughly 8,000, are in California, and the bulk of the remainder is spread on the east coast from Boston to Miami. Probably fewer than 100 new Alfa Romeos are sold annually in the Detroit area, he said.
With just two warehouses, one in New Jersey and the other near Los Angeles, the company has fewer parts shortages than any other importer, he said.
Bozzi, who has been with Alfa 14 years and in the United States, 10, said it probably is costing the Italian company about $1,000 per car to meet emissions, safety and fuel economy standards.
Bozzi also made these additional points:
Approximately 60 percent of Alfa's output is exported, roughly 30 percent to Germany and 25 percent to France.
Alfa Romeo is "thinking about a diesel engine" for the U.S. market and it would be a turbocharged diesel.
A V-6 engine, developed by Alfa Romeo, will be sold in the United States beginning in November 1979.
An automatic transmission, made by a German supplier and specifically and exclusively intended for the United States, will be introduced here soon.