GENEVA – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne says the re-launch of the Alfa Romeo brand, underpinned by its return to the U.S., requires a “severe rethinking” of the brand and he does not see a day when its products will be built outside of Italy.

“I can tell you (that) from the Detroit auto show we have made significant progress, in terms of some of the architectural choices involved and some of the key technical elements of what Alfa will be going forward,” Marchionne tells journalists at the Geneva auto show.

Marchionne previously planned to tie up with Mazda and use the rear-wheel-drive architecture for the next MX-5 roadster for the first of the next-generation Alfa models. But plans to keep Alfa production in Italy – because some regions deserve to own certain brands, he says – puts that collaboration in doubt.

Marchionne’s plan for turning around Fiat’s loss-making fortunes in Europe depend on a stronger, more consistently executed Alfa brand harkening back to its roots as a solidly sporty, attractively styled and powerful nameplate with a strong racing reputation.

A return to the U.S. also will be necessary, he says, and Alfa will enter other global markets with a vehicle in production in Italy by the end of next year.

Today in Geneva, Alfa Romeo showed the 4C Spider Concept, which the FCA chief says reflects the level of creativity and ingenuity the brand demands. “It went from what appeared to be fundamentally a go-kart to a hell of a car,” Marchionne says.

But bringing it market will be no easy task, he adds.

“Do not underestimate the amount of technical complexity related to this,” Marchionne says. “It is a complete rethink of what we have done.”

Suppliers, for example, must be committed to bringing to market technologies not presently there, the FCA CEO says. “So we are taking chances not only in the product offering but even in terms of the component elements of the architecture.”

More details of the plan for Alfa Romeo will be outlined in May, Marchionne says.

However, do not expect future Alfa Romeo models to be built outside of Italy. With 100 years of history in Milan, future cars, as well as components, must be assembled there, he says, “because there are some things that belong to a place.”

Any other approach would be a gross mistake, he says. “Not on my watch.”

jamend@wardsauto.com