Alfa male is down on Dodge

Fans of af­ford­able Ital­ian get heavy­hit­ting sup­port

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­

BUILD­ING the dor­mant Alfa Romeo and Fiat brands are the pri­or­i­ties for the man charged with over­see­ing the Fiat Chrysler group in the Asi­aPa­cific re­gion.

That’s good news for fans of Ital­ian cars, not so much for Amer­i­can afi­ciona­dos.

Asia-Pa­cific head of Jeep, Fiat and Alfa Mike Man­ley rules out a right-hand drive ver­sion of the Dodge Dart com­pact sedan, at least in the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion, be­cause it shares much of its un­der­pin­nings with the Alfa Gi­uli­etta al­ready on sale here.

‘‘ Dodge has ba­si­cally be­come a North Amer­i­can brand,’’ Man­ley says.

‘‘ Pro­gres­sively I’ve re­moved Dodge from mar­kets around the world. I’ve taken it out of Europe, I’ve taken it out of China. That said, Dodge is a loved brand in Aus­tralia, whether it’s the Amer­i­can her­itage or the mus­cle cars. The the­ory is yes, in prac­tice you can never say never.

‘‘ We’re look­ing at how we de­velop the port­fo­lio with brands to make sure we have a vi­able prod­uct plan for our deal­ers and for us to grow our busi­ness. And I think in that area, Alfa Romeo has huge po­ten­tial.’’

Man­ley says the Fiat-badge Vi­ag­gio, also based on the Gi­uli­etta, is one pos­si­bil­ity. The Vi­ag­gio is the spear­head for Fiat’s push in In­dia, which, be­ing a right-hand drive mar­ket, gives Fiat’s Aus­tralian op­er­a­tion the sort of ac­cess nei­ther it nor Alfa had un­der the pre­vi­ous im­porter Ateco.

Both badges sell in the low dou­ble fig­ures each month.

Fiat Chrysler Group Aus­tralia spokes­woman Lenore Fletcher says: ‘‘ If it has a steer­ing wheel on the right hand side, we’ll look at it. We’re do­ing that now.’’

Po­ten­tial: The Fiat-badged Vi­ag­gio, based on the Alfa Gi­uli­etta, has a right­hand drive ver­sion

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