The Alfa Romeo Spider built together with Mazda at Hiroshima in 2015? “We are under no obligation to use the Alfa brand name. Maybe we will, we won’t,” Marchionne was quoted as saying at the Geneva Motor Show on March the 4th, 2013. “Through our partnership with Mazda, we will be working with the absolute leader when it comes to the architecture of compact, rear-wheel drive vehicles in order to create a Spider that inspires enthusiasm and teems with Alfa Romeo style,” said Marchionne in his joint press release statement of May the 23rd, 2012.
I didn’t even have time to get back to Geneva—let’s say a little disappointed about the history of the Spider—when the Corriere della Sera added another chapter to a saga that borders on the ridiculous: “The Hiroshima Spider (read the newspaper ) in its Italian version will be called the Fiat 124″. Amarcord, to be precise. Are they trying to say that the design of an Alfa—which I imagine would have been given precise specifications—suddenly equals that of a Fiat? After all, one thing is the same as another. All you have to do is change the nameplate, right? And what about all of the trademark words that have Biblical import in the automotive sector, such as product integrity or consistency of brand? Something will surely be done.
It’s not hard to imagine why, when it comes to the Alfa Romeo, the CEO of FCA always appears a bit wishy-washy. It’s been up to Turin for almost ten years now—since June 2004 — to do something, but so far none of the promises made about the Alfa have ever been kept. We could start with talking about the projected sales of 300 thousand units in 2010 and move on to highlight the Spider’s promised return to America with its magical, moving, projected release date. Now there also seems to be some uncertainty regarding the Alfa Spider, which was announced would begin production in Japan, and another of their wise choices (although disliked by some Alfa fans) to share the costs of development of this niche product.
These are the facts. Last summer, Marchionne told the Financial Times that all of the Alfa Romeo Spiders would be produced in Italy. Automotive News Europe immediately reminded him that the Spider was, however, expected to be produced in Japan. Then there was silence. After which, the same magazine came out with the rumor that the Spider may no longer carry the Alfa brand name, and Marchionne? What will he say at the next press conference? His confirmation is on its way: “I never implied that it would be called ‘Alfa’ at all costs.”
Let me give you some more interesting information in order to put things into perspective. It’s my understanding that Harald Wester, the head of Maserati, Alfa and Abarth, has a thing for a Spider Abarth. Why not a Japanese one? But I also know that Lorenzo Ramaciotti, head of the Fiat Chrysler style division, has been rumoured for some time now to talk about how the Alfa Spider is “beautiful”. Others argue that the main point could be something else—the principal, Alfa petrol engine wouldn’t fit under the hood of a rear-wheel drive Spider because the hood is too compact. Secrets and lies, to be or not to be—just like Hamlet. What could be the problem?