Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the Alfa Romeo 4C sports car will lead the brand's return to America, and he said bluntly the engine will be Italian.
"With all due respect to my American friends, it needs to be a *** engine," Marchionne told a group of international media assembled in a conference room Monday during the first day of the Detroit auto show, using a racial slur for Italians.
Marchionne, an Italian-Canadian, used the term to describe the engine for the 4C. Fiat also owns Italian brands Ferrari and Maserati, and he said Chrysler's engines wouldn't work for an Alfa sports car.
The brand's much-anticipated return to the United States has been delayed as it struggles to get the powertrain and other elements of a future Alfa portfolio in order. The 4C has been delayed, though it is being tested in the United States.
"The car is not where it needs to be," he said.
And neither is the rest of Alfa.
"This undertaking to bring Alfa back is a one-shot deal," he said. "We're not going to change our mind. We're not going to do it twice. We're not going to execute it poorly."
Marchionne did not give a timeline for Alfa's return.
"We need to be ready for Alfa," he said. "We are not ready."
He then added: "Alfa Romeo is coming. There's not a single doubt."
Alfa's delay has been partially due to outside forces, as European economic troubles and the emergence of Maserati has limited Fiat's resources. Maserati, however, has been a bright spot for the group, with the redesigned Quattroporte leading a product blitz that includes an E-segment sedan and an SUV.
Meanwhile, he also said Lancia will be largely supported by Chrysler products rebadged for Europe. It won't get individual programs anymore.
"As the products die off, they will be replaced by Chrysler," he said.