Alfa Romeo owner Fiat has been non-committal about the brand's return to the U.S. market after a more than 15-year absence, but the latest indicators are that the plan is back on and we hear it will be spearheaded by a new mid-size sedan and an SUV.
Sources at Alfa Romeo have confirmed to Truck Trend that the brand is planning to re-enter the U.S. market within the next five years, possibly as soon as 2013, once Fiat has re-established itself here. While it has been speculated that the company could lead with the new Giulietta hatchback, our sources say that isn't so. Their reason: by the time the company is ready to re-launch in America, the Giulietta will be several years old and likely in need of an update. Recent reports indicate, however, that the Giulietta could be repurposed as the replacement for the aging Dodge Caliber and could land as soon as the end of this year wearing Dodge badges.
We know that Alfa Romeo is working on a new SUV, and our sources say it will help lead the charge in America. Rumors of a Jeep Grand Cherokee-based Alfa SUV have been floating for a few years now, but the latest scuttlebutt indicates that a smaller crossover is in the works as well. Fiat/Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne has already announced that Maserati will get a variant of the new Grand Cherokee, but with a Ferrari engine. Rumors persist of Ferrari, Fiat and Alfa SUVs based on the Grand Cherokee as well, but they're unconfirmed at this point. Meanwhile, the latest news is that Alfa is working in concert with Jeep on a new crossover. Based on the Compact Wide Platform that underpins the Alfa Giulietta, the Jeep version will replace the Compass and Patriot while the Alfa version will be more upscale and targeted at luxury crossovers like the BMW X1, which is also supposed to arrive in the U.S. at some point.
Our sources also say that Alfa will lead off with a new car no one's seen yet, not a current Alfa product. Instead of leading with a small car then, we hear that Alfa will lead with a new "large" car, likely the upcoming replacement for the 166 sedan.
Given how many times the plan for Alfa's return to the U.S. has changed already, we'll stay skeptical until we see sheet metal. Still, a one-two punch consisting of a mid-size sedan and a crossover targeting the two hottest segments in the U.S. market sounds like a solid plan to us. What do you think?