The good news is that the Alfa brand still has solid awareness among U.S. consumers, Francois said.
"When we started with Fiat, 8 percent of Americans before the reintroduction knew that Fiat was a car. That was our baseline. The baseline of Alfa is much higher," at about 30 or 40 percent, Francois said.
The two-seat Alfa Romeo 4C sports coupe went on sale in the U.S. in November.
A second vehicle, a sedan expected to carry the Giulia nameplate, is to be revealed June 24 in Milan, Italy. It is scheduled to arrive in U.S. showrooms in the first half of 2016.
"I have the feeling that we might probably hit some nerve at some point if we deliver the right product," Francois said.
In other news, Francois said:
- Even though dealers have temporarily stopped taking orders for Hellcat versions of the Dodge Charger and Challenger, FCA is planning a TV commercial in July that will feature the high-performance cars as a halo for Dodge.
Car enthusiasts crave the Hellcat cars' 707-hp engines. And videos of the cars have gone viral, creating a social-media phenomenon. Demand for the cars, which went on sale last fall, has ignited with no formal advertising.
- He chose an original song by indie rock band X Ambassadors to appeal to millennial shoppers in the advertising campaign for the new Jeep Renegade subcompact SUV. The campaign launched April 17. Millennials are mainly in their 20s and 30s.
Millennials "don't buy into advertising," Francois said. "They are more sophisticated. If you try to fool these people, you're dead. It's over. If they feel it's not totally organic, not real, not true, you're dead."
- Celebrity endorsers quickly buy market awareness. But he added that it's a "lazy" method too, even though FCA has used them. “If you do it, then do it the right way. It has to be absolutely special.” he said. "I'm not a big fan of endorsers. I would never do the Lincoln Matthew McConaughey commercial. I love him, by the way."
Larry P. Vellequette contributed to this report.