TURIN, Italy — The weak dollar likely will prompt Fiat to build a North American plant as it expands its Alfa Romeo brand in the United States, CEO Sergio Marchionne says.
"Mid to long term, I have no doubt we will have to produce in the NAFTA area to sell at a profit in the U.S.," Marchionne told Automotive News Europe. "When, where, in which volumes is still to be determined."
Fiat will begin to re-establish the Alfa Romeo brand in the United States next year by selling limited numbers of the 8C Competizione, a rear-drive, high-performance coupe.
Alfa officials have said they also want to sell the 159 sporty sedan, Brea 2+2 coupe and Spider two-seater. Those vehicles are likely to go on sale in the United States in late 2009 or early 2010.
Alfa will sell the 8C Competizione through select Maserati dealers, company officials say. As of Jan. 1, 2007, there were 37 franchised Maserati dealers in the United States. Marchionne said in an interview here that Fiat still is weighing options for a broader dealer network to handle the second wave of vehicles.
He said Fiat expects to lose money for "the first three to four years in the U.S.," especially with the dollar hovering around $1.47 per euro.
"This is the price you have to pay to re-enter the world's most competitive auto market," Marchionne said. "It was already expensive when the dollar was $1.10 to the euro; now it is more expensive."