Saturday, September 26, 2009

Alfa 166 Replacement To Be U.S.-Built

LONDON — Alfa Romeo will likely manufacture a rear-wheel-drive replacement for its defunct 166 executive sedan exclusively in North America, where most will be sold, Inside Line has learned.

The plant, probably Chrysler's 300C site in Brampton, Ontario, will also supply Europe with the car.

The new big Alfa, originally codenamed project 169, will share a brand-new, Chrysler-developed platform planned for the next-generation 300C and Dodge Charger sedans, although the Alfa version will feature bespoke suspension and powertrains.

Alfa believes a rear-drive platform to be essential for models in this class, and its integration with Chrysler suddenly provides it with a potentially suitable architecture.

Alfa is to collaborate closely with Dodge in future, this being the most sporting brand in the Chrysler portfolio.

Insiders report that the tieup with Chrysler has prompted Alfa to rewrite much of its product plan as a result of the new opportunities that this alliance presents. Apart from the possibility of producing Alfas in the U.S., once a fertile market for the brand, higher potential sales volumes, reduced component costs and enhanced distribution have all improved the prospects for the return of this famous brand to the U.S., which is slated for 2011.

Fiat will be announcing its product plans for the Chrysler Group in more detail in Detroit in mid-November.

The Chrysler rear-drive platform could also provide the basis of a new Alfa Spider and Brera — in shortened form, it is the base for the Challenger — although there is no confirmation of this, and the architecture may prove too large to suit European buyers. But Alfa is believed to be exploring the return of the Spider, and possibly its mainstream coupe siblings, to the rear-wheel-drive format last used by the Duetto Spider in the '90s, and the Alfetta GTV in the '80s. The company has already completed the design of the Spider, and will be looking for another rear-drive platform if Chrysler's does not suit.

Chrysler Group in turn will be taking three platforms from Fiat known as A (500, Panda), B (Grande Punto) and C, the last being new and the basis for the 147-replacing Milano which debuts early next year. The C platform will be stretched to provide architecture for the new Giulia, which replaces the 159. In theory, the Giulia and Milano could also be manufactured in the U.S. once Chrysler and Dodge are producing their own models on these platforms.

Inside Line says: Fiat's Chrysler alliance may make Alfa a North American success again — if it can get the products right.

— Richard Bremner, Correspondent

1 comment:

Brad said...

Ummm, same factory were my old 300M was put together.