Second Alfa Romeo SUV to lend Jeep Grand Cherokee underpinnings

Alfa Romeo looks set to add a second SUV based on the same underpinnings as the Jeep Grand Cherokee to its line-up as part of plans to re-enter the US market in 2013. Already hard at work on a compact SUV based on a four-wheel drive version of parent company Fiat's new C-segment platform to challenge the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK, the Italian car maker is also laying the foundations for a more upmarket SUV to go up against the Qudi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-class, according to the head of development, Harald Wester. Nothing has been made official just yet, but indications are the Alfa Romeo's future range topping model will sit on the same GC designated platform as the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee. 52-year-old Wester outlined the company's new model plans in a recent interview. "In 2012 we plan to launch a successor to the 159. At around the same time we'll introduce a compact SUV. A year later, in 2013, follows a new Spider and an even larger SUV." The big question is: will Wester look to the Jeep Grand Cherokee plant in Detroit to produce the large Alfa Romeo SUV or will it run down production lines at Magna in Austria? With BMW and Mercedes-Benz already producing the X5 and M-class in North America, the former scenario is not without precedent. Wester says Alfa Romeo's long term goal are global sales of 350,000 - up from just 120,000 in 2009.

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