Alfa Romeo is set for a rough couple of years. The carmaker is on the verge of relaunching in the U.S. and to make matters worse the boss of its parent company, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, has laid down the challenge of doubling Alfa’s sales and turning around the carmaker’s fortunes before its centenary in June 2010. This gives Alfa Romeo’s new CEO Luca De Meo roughly 1,000 days to set things right.

Alfa Romeo still has a lot of problems on its hands. The carmaker has been losing more than €200 million per year, and its volume 159 compact sedan is selling far below expectations. Worst of all, its cars perform poorly in customer satisfaction rankings in most major European markets. For example, Alfas were rated second-to-last in last year’s J.D. Power’s survey for the UK.

If anyone is capable of improving Alfa, it’s De Meo. The Italian exec is credited with turning around Fiat’s performance during the 1990s and he’s also dabbled with the Lancia brand as well. Unfortunately, with Alfa’s rather narrow and aged model lineup, and the main Pomigliano d’Arco plant shut down for two months, De Meo will have a tough time meeting the 300,000 unit target by 2010, reports Automotive News Europe.

Two strategies should help Alfa boost sales by 125,000 units in the middle term: the long rumored Junior subcompact hatchback, to be released in September, and the brand’s return to the U.S. market after 14 years of absence. Fiat’s new model rollout, however, including cars like the 147 and 166 replacements, the 149 five-door compact hatchback and the 169 mid-size sedan, have been delayed to either 2009 and 2010, and crossover fans will have to wait even more to buy anything like the five-year old Kamal concept.

One key feature of all future Alfa’s will be that designers will focus on saving weight during the development phase. Combined with a push for RWD platforms as well as the carmaker’s trademark gorgeous styling, we’re in store for some good looking and strong performance cars.