Alfa Romeo's ever-shifting plans for a return to the North American market, which it left in 1995 after decades of pitiful sales, poor reliability and strained dealer relations, form a boulevard of broken dreams. The latest blueprint for Alfa's American resurrection calls for sales of the coming 4C sports coupe, a 2014 model, to begin here in the fall.
Distribution plans, dealerships and personnel have not been disclosed. Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Alfa's parent, the Fiat Group, said recently at the Detroit auto show that customers could pre-order the car starting this spring. But he did not say who would take the orders or what the car would cost.
The world will get a preview of the production version of the sporty 4C in March, when the car is officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. But there are no plans to present the 4C subsequently to an American audience at the New York auto show in late March, Richard Gadeselli, a Fiat spokesman, said in an e-mail on Wednesday.
Production of the 4C is to begin in May at a Maserati plant in Modena, Italy. The Alfa 8C Competizione, a $265,000 limited-edition sports car, and the 8C Spider, a convertible version with a $240,000 price tag, were made in batches of 500 each in 2007-10 at that plant. A few dozen 8C models were sold to Americans by special order.
The 4C, envisioned as a sports car with a price below $50,000, was introduced in concept form at the Geneva show in 2011.
The production 4C will be powered by a 1.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission. Acceleration from 0 to 60 m.p.h. is expected to take less than five seconds, and the car's top speed is likely to be about 155 m.p.h. Few other details are known.
Mr. Marchionne also said in Detroit that Fiat had entered into an agreement with Mazda, which is developing the next generation of its MX-5 Miata roadster, to produce an Alfa Romeo version. That car, which is likely to be a 2015 model and be priced some $5,000 above the Miata, might be considered an updated successor to the Alfa Romeo Spider, a two-seat roadster with a cult following that went out of production in the early 1990s.
"The Mazda-Alfa Spider has nothing to do with the 4C," Mr. Gadeselli wrote. "One is a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive compact roadster, the other (4C) a midengined coupe built around a carbon tub."
Other Alfa models may follow , including a Giulia sedan, a compact crossover utility vehicle and possibly the next generation of the compact MiTo coupe.
But, as with anything Alfa-related, plans are subject to change.
Not long after the brand left the American market in 1995, its return was rumored, promised and reneged upon. In March 2000, Fiat said Alfa could return to America as early as 2003, and the following January, General Motors and Fiat suggested that they were considering a plan for Saab and Cadillac dealers to distribute Alfas, starting in 2005.
In August 2002, Fiat reiterated its plan for a 2005 Alfa reintroduction, but the next month it pushed the date to 2007. That plan was canceled in December 2003.
In February 2005, G.M. said it would pay Fiat $2 billion to walk away from the companies' five-year-old partnership. By August 2006, Fiat revised its American plans for Alfa again: three models due in 2010 -- or perhaps 2011.
Mr. Marchionne said in March 2007 that Alfa could come to America in 2008. But in July 2007, Fiat suggested that Alfas could be sold in 2010 at BMW dealerships in the United States.
After Fiat reiterated in July 2009 its plan for a 2010 re-entry -- with the MiTo coupe -- the plan was revised a year later: the full Alfa line would arrive in 2012, Fiat said. Mr. Marchionne subsequently said, in early 2011, that Alfa wouldn't come until 2013. And that's where the matter stood until his recent comments in Detroit.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.