At the beginning of June, Fiat Chrysler had 30 Alfa 4C coupes in U.S. inventory -- guaranteeing a shortage for the brand’s 120 U.S. dealers. It takes six weeks to build a 4C and the coupe is requiring just 17 days to turn in the U.S., Alfa Romeo officials said during a preview of the 4C Spider here.
FCA is holding off opening some additional Alfa dealers in the U.S. because of tight supplies of the 4C.
The company expects to have 200 Alfa Romeo dealers in the U.S. by the end of the first quarter of 2016, when an all-new Alfa midsize sport sedan is slated to go on sale.
The new sedan will be unveiled in Milan, Italy, on June 24 when Fiat Chrysler will reopen the Alfa museum and celebrate the brand’s 105th birthday.
The delayed, rear-wheel drive sedan shares a platform with the Maserati Ghibli and will reportedly carry the Giulia name.
Reid Bigland, head of Alfa Romeo North America, said the sedan has been designed and engineered to be a “cut above” rivals from BMW, Porsche, Mercedes and Audi.
“The market is ripe for an alternative to premium priced German sedans,” Bigland said Friday during the 4C Spider preview. “There’s an opportunity in places like California to market a luxury car that owners won’t see down the street.”
The midsize sedan is one of eight new models Alfa plans to introduce worldwide -- at a cost of about $6 billion -- with a global sales target of 400,000 vehicles by 2018. The brand is aiming for annual sales of 125,000 to 150,000 in North America.
The sedan will be followed by a midsize SUV aimed at the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Porsche Macan. A larger Alfa SUV is also in the works -- giving the brand a presence in the top three luxury segments worldwide.
U.S. sales of the 4C coupe total 295 through May and nearly 400 (386) vehicles since the car went on sale in 2014.
The 4C has a starting price of $55,495. Alfa has also offered a special launch edition of the 4C priced at $69,995.
Richard Cox, director of Alfa Romeo North America, said most 4C buyers have been longtime collectors and Alfa enthusiasts. The average age of a 4C buyer in the U.S. is 45 years old and early research shows average household income is well above $200,000.
The 4C is aimed at re-establishing Alfa Romeo's racing, performance and luxury bonafides.
But analysts say the sedan, SUVs and other undisclosed products will determine whether FCA's bold sales goals and investment plan -- a sum equal to more than 3 full years of Alfa's estimated annual revenue -- will pay off.
"Alfa Romeo has attempted reincarnations in many forms that have proven unsuccessful," Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a report this week. "Is Alfa worth negative 1.5 billion euros (as we have in our model) or could it have significant positive value either within FCA or in the hands of a strategic partner who can nurture the brand? We’ll find out soon enough."