Alfa Romeo CEO Karl-Heinz Kalbfell’s main focus is fixing Alfa’s dealer network.
“I keep asking my sales managers, ‘How often did you visit your dealers this week?’ ’’ he said. Alfa “took many decisions without listening to the market.”
To help with the turnaround Kalbfell will call in three or four seasoned outsiders to reshape Alfa Romeo. The first will arrive May 1, taking over sales in all of Europe except Italy. The second will oversee sales outside Europe.
Kalbfell wants to expand Alfa’s sales in Asia, particularly in Japan. He also has plans to launch the brand in the world’s fastest growing market.
“The 166 is homologated for China, but it is not sold there and I can’t find anyone here who can explain why,” he said.
Relaunching the brand in North America is another “must” for Alfa Romeo, Kalbfell said, but that will come after the carmaker fixes its dealer network in Europe and achieves growth in Asia.
Kalbfell also would want a larger dealer network in North America before he brought back the brand. Maserati has 40 dealers in the US, a good start but not nearly enough.
“It is a not forgiving market,” Kalbfell said. “It is not enough to say you have a great heritage, to be successful in North America. You need a consistent product range and an adequate dealer network.”
He didn’t say how many dealers would be needed to make the network adequate.