In yet another episode of the ongoing verbal battle between the Fiat and VW Groups over Alfa Romeo, the German automaker's CEO Ferdinand Piech said that Volkswagen could nearly quadruple the annual sales of the Milanese brand if the Italians would agree to sell the company.
Speaking to journalists at the Geneva Motor Show, the CEO went on to say that within five years Volkswagen could increase the sales of the money-losing Italian brand to 400,000 cars every year. Alfa Romeo ended 2010 with 112,000 units sold.
As we previously reported, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne isn't keen on dropping Alfa Romeo, and hopes to revive the historic brand and make it a major player in the European premium segment. The Fiat boss repeatedly refused admitting to even consider selling the brand: "As long as I am CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, Mr. Piech will never have Alfa Romeo,” Marchionne stated at a JD Power automotive conference in the US.
The Italian firm's CEO even suggested Piech should try and fix the SEAT brand before thinking of Alfa Romeo. But apparently, the Germans can't take no for an answer. "Volkswagen has time," said Piech in Geneva, a sentence that could be interpreted as a hint at the poor financial status of Alfa Romeo that could make the Fiat Group's shareholders lose patience.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Marchionne admitted that the brand was losing money during each of the seven years he has been at the helm of the group. “I'm not sure if it ever really made any money,” were his exact words. Could this mean he is finally open to negotiations? Only time will tell.
By Dan Mihalascu