Alfa Romeo fans will have to wait nearly a year, at the earliest, before the brand re-enters U.S. showrooms. The Detroit News reports Alfa Romeo, a subsidiary of Italy's Fiat, will not bring the 4C — a sleek, two-seat sports car — to U.S. showrooms until spring 2014.
The announcement represents the latest delay for a brand that's been absent from U.S. showrooms for nearly 20 years. Fiat re-entered the U.S. market after taking an initial stake of then-moribund Chrysler in 2009, and CEO Sergio Marchionne said in 2010 that Alfa would return by 2012. In late 2011, Fiat delayed the brand's reintroduction to 2013, blaming Europe's shaky economy. A production 4C debuted in February 2013, and Fiat said at that time it would sell the car in the U.S. this year.
But the timetable keeps moving back. Fiat has other fish to fry: The automaker currently owns 58.5% of Chrysler, but papers were filed Monday for an initial public offering on the remaining 41.5% owned by a United Auto Workers health care trust. Marchionne wants Fiat to own the Michigan automaker outright so he can access some of Chrysler's $12 billion in cash to help fund a turnaround in Europe, where Fiat says it will lose money until at least 2015. But neither Fiat nor the union trust can agree on a price for that 41.5%, with valuations running between $3.2 billion and $6 billion.Enter the IPO, which would theoretically allow the market to decide just how much the remainder of Chrysler is worth. Experts call Monday's papers more of a negotiating tool than a specter of actual stock availability. Bloomberg News automotive editor Jamie Butters said Tuesday it's "highly unlikely that there's an [actual] IPO. The two sides are both — they're very passionate, and they're very pragmatic. And ultimately, they want to do a deal. They'll believe that Chrysler is worth more as part of Fiat than if it has three-way ownership and acts as a semi-independent company."