Alfa Romeo will sell cars in the U.S. from 2007 at the earliest

Munich, Germany. Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, the new boss of Alfa Romeo and Maserati, will risk an Alfa comeback in the U.S. market, but only after thorough preparation.

Kalbfell said Alfa Romeo's first priority is the launch of the 159 sedan, which will be unveiled at the Geneva auto show.

"First we have to build and sell a sufficient volume of the 159. We cannot go to America if we lack resources," said Kalbfell.

The decision to spin off Maserati from Ferrari and tie in the brand with Alfa Romeo will speed up Alfa's US return, Kalbfell said. But the ground work has yet to be laid.

"We don't have a dealer network in the USA. The 40 Maserati dealers cannot take over that role on their own," said Kalbfell.

Kalbfell plans to advertise the Alfa Romeo brand at the Concourse d'Elegance, a famous vintage car show in Pebble Beach, California.

"We only have one shot in the USA," Kalbfell said, "and that shot has to find its target."

A market entry could take place as soon as 2007.

Kalbfell said that in principle, Alfa and Maserati have the technical basis necessary to jointly develop future products.

The bodywork of both the new 159 and the Brera has a very good degree of stiffness, which is a prerequisite for sporty cars, Kalbfell said. This could be the basis for future sporty vehicles.

Cooperation between Maserati and Audi, meanwhile, is still a possibility.

Said Kalbfell: "We are currently considering if a cooperation in certain fields might lead us to specific solutions faster and more cost effectively."

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