After a nearly 20-year absence, Italian car maker Alfa Romeo is returning to the U.S. market.
Alfa CEO Harald Wester said Wednesday the company plans to ship around 100 4C sports cars to the U.S. this June.
Alfa expects to ship a total of 800 cars to the U.S. this year, including 500 limited edition 4C models. Wester expects 4C shipments will grow to 1,200 to 1,300 per year in 2015 and beyond.
"It's just an appetizer," Wester said at the New York auto show, where the 4C is displayed next to its sister Italian luxury brand, Maserati. Wester is also the head of Maserati.
Wester won't yet say which U.S. dealers will sell Alfas, or how customers can order them. Alfa's parent company, Italian automaker Fiat SpA, will release more details next month.
Alfa Romeo, founded in Milan, Italy, a little more than 100 years ago, was sold in the U.S. for around 40 years until 1995, when it retreated due to quality issues and falling sales. U.S. Alfa sales peaked at 8,200 in 1986. The sporty Spider was the company's best seller here.
Wester calls the 4C an "affordable supercar" which will start around $54,000 (or $70,000 for the limited edition model). It's handmade in Modena, Italy, in limited numbers, partly because of its carbon-fiber components. It has a 1.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 240 horsepower.
Wester said Alfa sold 85,000 cars in Europe last year, which is by far its largest market. It also sells limited numbers of cars in South America, Australia, Japan and the Middle East.