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New Alfa Romeo Spider in the Doldrums

By raccars Published

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Alfa Romeo is going through a very confusing time. On the one hand, its new 4C sports car has been universally praised and even heralded the saviour of the brand. However at the same time, the company has just hit a four year sales low, currently selling under 100,000 units annually. What's going on?

At one time the market leader in sexy, upmarket sports cars, Alfa was dogged for years by reports of unreliability. Furthermore, there's been quite a lot of corporate flip flopping going on, with most recently its parent group, Fiat, taking over American firm, Chrysler. The result is that apart from the new 4C, Alfa's line up has been reduced to a paltry two models: the aged MiTo three door and five door Giulietta. Things were looking up - apart from the stellar 4C, in May 2012, the Italian firm announced that it was locked into a joint development deal with Mazda to see the return of its once successful Spider model. In order to share resources, the Italian designed car would share a chassis with Mazda's new version of its iconic MX-5 and be built in its factory in Japan, albeit with an Alfa engine. So far, so good.

However, the Fiat Group's recent corporate reshuffle has left this project somewhat in limbo. If it is going to proceed with Mazda and launch by the end of next year, decisions will need to be made pretty quickly. The problem stems from a loss of identity for Alfa Romeo. Fiat Group boss, Sergio Marchionne, has confirmed that going forward, Alfa Romeo has to focus on its innate Italian-ness. This means cars that are designed and built in Italy, with the requisite flair the country is famous for.

Where does this leave the Japanese built new Spider? With another badge, apparently. Fiat intends to complete the project but is considering Fiat, Abarth or even Chrysler or Dodge badges for the roadster - which just seems plain wrong. All is due to be revealed on 6 May, when a new corporate strategy for Alfa Romeo is to be revealed. In the meantime, there have been encouraging rumours of interesting sounding new models - the Giulia compact saloon, for example. The brand's recent triumph with the 4C suggests the potential is still there, if Fiat can simply get its corporate ducks in order.

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