Chrysler says Alfa Romeo will eventually outsell Fiat in US

Fiat SpA's Alfa Romeo will outsell stablemate Fiat in the United States once the sporty brand gets a foothold in its new market and expands to sell larger models, an executive with Fiat-owned Chrysler Group said on Saturday.

The first Alfa Romeo to be sold in the United States in nearly two decades, the 4C sports car, is expected to arrive late this year. Alfa Romeo will be sold at Fiat dealerships in the United States.

After the Alfa lineup in the United States is filled out, the brand is forecast to outsell Fiat models, said Peter Grady, head of network development for the Chrysler Group.

"We think that Alfa Romeo will have a little bit larger volume than Fiat will have," Grady said in an interview on the sidelines of the National Automobile Dealers Association's annual convention.

Alfa Romeo models were sold in the United States until the mid-1990s, before Fiat SpA bought the company. Dustin Hoffman's character in the 1967 film "The Graduate" drove an Alfa Romeo Spider.

Fiat's namesake brand sold in the US market until the mid-1980s and returned with the subcompact Fiat 500 in 2011.

Outside of Chrysler's home of North America, Alfa Romeo will build its distribution network by leveraging the "global footprint and premium position" of Chrysler's Jeep brand, Fiat said in a presentation to analysts in New York on Friday.

Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of both Fiat and Chrysler, has said on several occasions that Jeep and Alfa Romeo are the only true global brands in the two companies' portfolios.

Marchionne has also said that he intends to merge the two companies by 2015. Fiat now owns 58.5 percent of Chrysler, up from the 20 percent it received when the Detroit-area automaker came out of bankruptcy in 2009.

Sales of Alfa Romeo in North America and other global markets is a way to help Fiat overcome a production-and-demand imbalance of the sporty brand in Europe, where auto sales and the economy are weak.

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