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Alfa Romeo solus move gives boost to model range

The decision by Fiat Auto to launch Alfa Romeo as a solus franchise in the UK will be backed by an ambitious new model programme.

By 2005 Alfa will have replaced the 156, GTV Coupe and Spider, and the 166 executive saloon. Model ranges will be boosted by a host of new performance and four-wheel drive versions designed to increase showroom traffic.

“The restructuring of Fiat Auto will mean that Alfa Romeo is split off and becomes a business unit on its own,” says Richard Gadeselli, chief executive of Fiat Group in the UK. “Alfa will be a solus franchise.”

Alfa Romeo is moving towards a UK solus network of around 50 sites. The marque previously shared dealerships with Fiat, and - before it was pulled out of the UK market in the early 1990s - Lancia.

A GTA performance version of the 147 is due later this year. Sources in Italy also suggest a new three door coupe based on the 147 is scheduled to debut at the end of next year. This car is expected to be called Sprint.

The move to solus status is seen as smart leveraging of the increasing appeal of Alfa Romeo as a premium brand. It will benefit from Fiat/GM's 'premium car architecture' operation in Sweden, which will produce cars for Saab, Alfa and Lancia, an initiative which will help the manufacturer reach 500,000 sales a year by 2005.

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