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Alfa 4C on cards for Australia

Alfistis will have their fingers crossed that the 4C sports will find its way downunder when it goes into production in 2013.

The decision by Chrysler Australia’s parent company, Fiat, to have Chrysler Australia take over the importation of Alfa Romeo and Fiat vehicles will no doubt be greeted enthusiastically. 

Although it’s the largest carmaker in Italy and the ninth largest in the world, Fiat, is currently only a bit player on the Australian market with two diverse models in its range, the cute retro-styled Fiat 500 and the Ducato van. 

Similarly the local Alfa Romeo range has been whittled down to just two models, MiTo and Giulietta. The two Italian brands will join the existing three American brands, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge in the portfolio operated by Chrysler Group Australia. 

It’s too early for details of the expected model expansion to be known in full. During our recent visit to China we were able to sit down with Chrysler’s Australian CEO, Clyde Campbell, and speculate on some of the possibilities. 

One model that is almost certain to come here is the Fiat 500L, a five-door hatchback/wagon that’s related to the 500 only by name. The 500L is significantly larger in all dimensions than the 500 and the 500C cabriolet.

Launched with a big splash at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, the Fiat 500L is due for release in Europe ate this year. 

The expected demise of Dodge is likely to see the Fiat Freemont replace the Dodge Journey as the group’s people mover. The mid-sized Fiat Linea sedan is another that will come under consideration. 

Alfistis will have their fingers crossed that the 4C sports car shown as concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show will find its way downunder when it goes into production in 2013.
There’s even some speculation that Lancia, another member of the Fiat group, and off the Australian scene since the mid-1980s, could return.
There are currently 39 Fiat and/or Alfa Romeo dealerships in Australia while Chrysler Group has 72. Mr Campbell explained that there will be a complete evaluation of the new combined dealer network to examine the best method of integrating the various brands. 

The outgoing Fiat/Alfa Romeo distributor, Ateco Automotive Group, has played an important part in expanding the choice of Australian buyers. Ateco was responsible for reviving Alfa Romeo (in 1997) and Fiat (in 2006) when it looked as though the two iconic marques had been lost forever from this country. 

All three of these brands were successfully re-established and subsequently taken over by their respective factory operations in a similar manner to the new Chrysler arrangement. 

Most recently Ateco has become the first company to import Chinese vehicles to Australia, in the form of Chery and Great Wall. With over 200 motor vehicle manufacturers currently operating in China it seems likely that Ateco is eyeing off further expansion in this region. 

Commenting on the change, Ateco governor, Neville Crichton, said: “As we say goodbye to Alfa Romeo and Fiat we will be welcoming into our company new brands and businesses that will benefit from the unique skills and talents we have to offer.”

Ateco Automotive will also continue to distribute Fiat’s two upmarket Italian brands, Ferrari and Maserati, as well as the very French Citroen vehicles and the recently acquired British sportscar maker Lotus.