Friday, January 22, 2010

Fiat Groups Together Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Abarth by Appointing Common CEO

Italy's Fiat Group, which recently bought a 20 per cent stake in Chrysler, is continuing to shake up its executive and business structure. Today, the company's boss, Sergio Marchionne revealed plans to create a new group for the sporty Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Abarth brands that will be headed by Harald J. Wester, born in Linz am Rhein, Germany, on 26 February 1958.

As part of these plans, the 52-year-old former VW and Audi executive was appointed today CEO of Alfa Romeo automobiles replacing Sergio Cravero, who will assume responsibility for Product Portfolio Planning & Product Concept of Fiat Group Automobiles.
Fiat said that Wester will maintain his current positions as Chief Technical Officer for Fiat Group and Fiat Group Automobiles and Chief Executive Officer of Maserati and Abarth.

"The purpose of bringing the Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Abarth brands under the same leadership is to emphasize and leverage the value of the shared qualities of the three brands in terms of their sporting characteristics and performance," said Marchionne.

Recent reports state that Marchionne is reviewing several options for the Fiat Group's money losing Alfa Romeo marque.

According to Autonews, among the options under consideration is to stop all investments for the brand leaving Alfa with two new models, the Giulietta and MiTo hatchbacks and three older cars, the 3-Series-fighting 159 Sedan / SportWagon, the Brera Coupe and the Spider.

If the new Giulietta five-door hatch proves successful, then Marchionne would revaluate the brand's future, otherwise Alfa could find itself in a very difficult position.

However, it's 100 per cent certain that if for any reason Fiat decides to shut down the brand in the near future, the company will face a public backlash in Italy and elsewhere as Alfa Romeo is a historic marque with many hardcore fans around the world - if you thought Saab has many loyalists, wait till you see the "Alfisti"...

Fortunately though, there's also another option on the table for Alfa and that's to invest in the historic brand by using common platforms with Chrysler's mid-size models for the 159's replacement and a new range-topping sedan that would rival the BMW 5-Series, with both cars being built and offered in the States as well.

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