Friday, 18 April 2014

Alfa Romeo return to US shores after almost 20 years away.

Ah, cars... not really my thing: too big, get stuck in traffic, not as quick on real roads at fans pretend. Well, not during daylight hours in southern England for most of the year. there are usually traffic jams on routes into London by 6am. But Alfas? Oh yes, I've a real weakness for Alfas: that's were Scuderia Ferrari and Tazio Nuvolari went when they moved to cars (having started with bikes - see back issues of Benzina ).

Sadly finances and family demands mean there's not on in my life right now, but I've owner several in the past and loved them all. So one day, when the nest is empty, hopefully something like the 4C will take up some garage space. In the meantime hopefully Alfa can prosper, and events at the New York motor show might suggest they will. Because Alfa Romeo are returning to US shores after nigh on 20 years away, the firm is planning on dipping its toe into the US market once more, with its two-seater 4C sports car -  available in Europe since earlier this year. With a mostly carbon fibre shell, it can zip from zero to 60mph in just over four seconds.

Alfa Romeo left the US in the mid-1990s, after it failed to compete in a market filled with big players . Owned by Fiat since 1986, its return to the US market has been mooted since 2000, but it is only under Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne that those discussions gained real traction.

"Alfa needs to play here - they really need to expand their volumes and begin to pay off the product development that's come from Fiat," senior analyst Bill Visnic, from automotive information site told the BBC

 "It's difficult to call yourself a legitimate luxury brand and not be playing in the US market." Hmmm. Or Asia. But at least US Alfa fan Dino Pappous  agrees the new Alfa 4C is "a car that attracts attention for the right reasons - it's subtle and unique”

Apparently the 4C was mobbed at the New York show, despite a small and modest stand, boding well for sales. Jiyan Cadiz, a spokesperson for Alfa Romeo, told the BBC that only 500 4C Launch Edition cars would be available to buyers over the summer, priced at about $70,000 (£42,000). The company says it expects to sell just under a thousand regular 4C models, at a base price of $54,000, by the end of this year. However, Mr Cadiz added: "We do have more products to come - know that we wouldn't start now unless we were truly ready."

Alfa Romeo car at NY Auto show

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