In an odd turn, Volkswagen has reportedly told industry paper Automotive News Europe it is keen to buy Alfa Romeo from current owner Fiat. The reported comments come despite VW boss Martin Winterkorn confirming that his company is not planning to add more brands.
"There are some who knock at our door. Some really want to come under our roof as they see we're on a good path strategically. But we are satisfied with the current line-up. I don't see any need [for new deals]," Dr Winterkorn said.
According to the report, two "high-ranking" VW executives confirmed that Volkswagen is "seriously interested" in acquiring the Alfa brand.
Rumours for a Volkswagen acquisition of Alfa Romeo are born out of the German carmaker's problems with Seat, a Spanish brand that has failed to makes waves in Europe and pulled out of the Australian market in 1999.
Former VW CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder harboured well-known hopes to turn Seat into a sporting, emotional competitor for Alfa - and there is speculation that Volkswagen would now prefer to buy Alfa, retiring the Seat brand in the process.
Whatever hopes Volkswagen might allegedly hold for the Italian marque, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has confirmed in recent months that Alfa is an important part of his company's plans.
As part of a presentation to investors and the Italian Government earlier this year, Marchionne confirmed plans to turn Alfa into a brand with more than 500,000 annual sales - around five times its global sales of 2009.
"We need to work a lot harder on Alfa to make an intelligent decision that effectively preserves the highest possible value to Fiat," Marchionne said.
For now, Fiat clearly has big plans for the Alfa brand, with the upcoming Giulietta confirmed for 2011 and a 159-replacing Giulia reported to follow. Fiat has also commissioned design houses Bertone, Pininfarina and Italdesign Giugiaro to develop a new concept each for potential future Alfa models.
Ironically, Italdesign Giugiaro was recently purchased by Volkswagen.