The broadening global financial crisis has forced Fiat Group Automobiles to postpone two targets it had set two years ago for 2010: returning the Alfa Romeo brand to the United States, and selling 300,000 units a year in China.
Alfa's return to the United States will be delayed by a year to 2011, Fiat Group and Fiat Group Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne said Thursday. The new 2010 goal for Fiat sales in China is now 50,000.
Alfa's U.S. return was originally planned by Marchionne for the final quarter of 2009, then later delayed to the 2010. In pushing that back another year, Marchionne told analysts, because "it would be simply crazy investing for returning Alfa in such a depressed U.S. market."
In China, Fiat has so far missed all the targets Marchionne had previously set.
The Italian automaker has not produced vehicles in China since December 2007, when it ended its joint venture with Nanjing Automobile.
Fiat is currently importing "a few thousand" vehicles produced in Italy and Turkey, Marchionne said. Each is sold at a loss, but the automaker needs to continue importing vehicles to bolster its Chinese dealer network.
Because of this, Marchionne acknowledged that the 300,000 units sales target he had set for 2010 is unreachable.
The Italian automaker is in negotiations with Chery Automobile to form a joint venture to produce the Alfa Romeo 159 premium sedan and the 940 project, which will replace the 147 in Europe from late 2009.
Fiat also is negotiating with Guangzhou Automobile to build the Fiat Linea sedan.
Details of the agreement with Guangzhou could be announced next month.
People familiar with the matter told Automotive News Europe that Fiat is planning to build 70,000 to 80,000 Lineas a year in one of Guangzhou plants.
Guangzhou has joint ventures with Honda and Toyota.
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