Australians car buyers are used to hearing about models they never get. The market here was seen as too small to justify the expense of re-engineering cars for right-side drive, which left Aussies with money in hand and unable to buy what they wanted. Since Fiat has centralised marketing operations for Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep, and Alfa Romeo, things are changing. The company views the Australian market with new eyes. They’ve promised to bring a bigger selection of cars here, and so far this is proving true with all of the lines they offer.
Coming, But In Just A Few
This sleek sports car has clear sightlines to great Alfa Romeo race cars and sports cars of the past, even as it represents the future directions of the company. Lightweight and encompassing cutting-edge technology, the 4C was presented at the Geneva Auto Show in 2011 and almost immediately was prepared for production. Australians were pleased to hear that though production was limited, some of the special Launch Edition and the regular production models are planned for Australian distribution.
Now that its arrival here is imminent, interested buyers still have basic questions about price, availability, and timing. At this point, although Alfa is targeting the cars for mid-year distribution (hopefully in May 2014), some other specifics are still being worked out by the company.
Even though the market for sports cars is not as broad as those for family cars and utility vehicles, there is still a strong market in many areas of the world. The Alfa Romeo company knew that the number of 4Cs available would never satisfy the pent-up demand for this type of product. This sexy car was always intended to be a limited production vehicle, due to assembly costs and materials.
Materials, Labour Costs Compound Price Debate
The much-heralded carbon fibre chassis for the car requires an ever-broadening supply of this material at a reasonable price. At this point, prices are increasing, as supply is limited. In addition, the 4C is very focused on quality, and boasts that much of the assembly is lovingly and carefully done by hand, rather than on a more economical assembly line. In addition, there will be over 400 measurements, over 300 in-plant quality tests, and a road test that each car will have to pass before being released for sale. These two variables make price an issue that Alfa has to consider carefully in order to offer a good value yet still make a profit.
Trying To Meet Demand Fairly
As the company debates price, they want to properly divvy up the number of available cars to world markets. They plan to ship about a third of the cars to Europe, a proven market, while planning a third of their distribution to the United States, where the car has not been on the market since 1995, and where they want to re-establish the brand. The rest of the cars are destined for the rest of the world, with about 500 coming to the Asian Pacific region, which includes Australia.
To gauge demand for the car, Alfa allowed pre-ordering in Europe and Australia that was secured by a large cash deposit. The company has stopped taking orders until the numbers are firmed up, but in Australia, over 100 sports car lovers pulled out their wallets in the hope of getting one of the new 4Cs. Alfa does not want to disappoint those who put money down on this dream car.
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