TURIN, Italy -- Alfa Romeo is coming back to the United States in late 2008 with big-sticker cars.
The Italian brand wants the $200,000-plus sports cars to pave the way for a 2010 or 2011 introduction of three volume models.
"We have a team working on the Alfa Romeo comeback to the U.S., and we will make an announcement at the Paris auto show" in September, says Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Alfa's parent, Fiat Auto S.p.A.
Alfa plans to sell its cars through the 47 U.S. dealers that sell its sister brand, Maserati.
Alfa has postponed its return to the United States repeatedly since 2000. At the time, Fiat said Alfa would introduce the redesigned two-seat Spider convertible in 2003.
James Selwa, president of Maserati North America, will head the Alfa Romeo relaunch in the United States. He says plans are still preliminary.
"The dealers know there is work going on, and they are excited," says Selwa.
"But there is a lot more work to do on the product before we get to dealer development."
The first Alfa Romeo to go on sale in the United States will be the limited-edition 8c Competizione carbon-fiber car. The car is based on a shortened platform of the Maserati Coupe, the company said.
The car will be powered by a Maserati 4.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine, which will produce more than 400 hp.
Prices likely will start at about $200,000 in Europe.
A soft-top version called the 8c Spider will debut in the United States in 2009.
Only 500 of each 8c Competizione model will be built for the world. The United States will get half of each vehicle's production.
Around 2010, Alfa plans to launch the Spider, Brera coupe and 159 sedan in the United States.
Changes for U.S. tastes are planned. The 159 will be extended by 10 inches to add more rear legroom and trunk space.
Alfa Romeo left the United States in 1995 because of quality problems. Alfa Romeo regularly finished at or near the bottom of J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Study.
You may e-mail Luca Ciferri at [email protected]