How can Alfa Romeo reach its ambitious target of boosting annual unit sales above 500,000 by 2014 from 102,000 units last year? Become part of Europe's largest automaker, says one analyst.
”Maybe Alfa could get to a half million unit sales a year, but only after the brand is sold to Volkswagen,” Arndt Ellinghorst, global head of automotive research at Credit Suisse, told Automotive News Europe in a phone interview last week. Many financial analysts, including Ellinghorst, doubt that Alfa can get to 500,000 units a year under Fiat S.p.A. ownership.
By mentioning Alfa in the same breath as VW Group, Ellinghorst may spark another round of speculation that the German giant would like to add Alfa to its collection of Italian treasures.
Rumors of a possible sale of Alfa to VW surfaced in Turin and Wolfsburg late last year. The buzz has not died down despite VW's and Fiat's repeated denials that a deal is in the works.
In April, VW CEO Martin Winterkorn told reporters that he admires Alfa, but said the VW group, which is in the middle of trying to takeover Porsche AG, is not planning to add yet another brand.
“With the hiring of design director Walter de' Silva and marketing expert Luca De Meo, as well as [the purchase of control in] Lamborghini and Italdesign Giugiaro as companies, our appetite for buying in Italy is fully satisfied,” Winterkorn said.
Winterkorn's statement was clear, but there are a number of other Alfa fans in Wolfsburg, such as VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech, de' Silva, who was Alfa's design director before becoming part of the VW Group in 2000, and De Meo, who was CEO at Alfa before joining VW last summer.
So stay tuned because Ellinghorst has a knack for being right about VW. Don't forget, he was the first to predict VW's reverse takeover of Porsche.