The Fiat-Chrysler partnership has been brewing since well before the economic meltdown and federal loan bonanza of late 2008, but it's still taking shape as the automakers find ways to work to their mutual benefit. The combined companies’ new CEO Sergio Marchionne is set to reveal the future plans for both Fiat and Chrysler in just a week’s time but we already have much of the details on hand.

According to people briefed on the plans, Alfa Romeo is set to return as a volume player in 2012. Fiat will be here too, although the only model planned is the 500 minicar, which should in early 2011.

Don’t feel too bad Fiat isn’t coming here in full force. Chrysler will introduce several new models that rely on Fiat platforms and technology. The first of these will be a new mid-sized sedan from Chrysler based on Fiat’s C-Evo platform, followed by new hatchback and a compact Jeep. There will also be redesigned versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 arriving as early as next year.

Several models will be dropped from Chrysler’s U.S. lineup as well. These will include a number of Dodge models, such as the Caliber, Nitro, Avenger, and several Jeep models, too, such as the Commander, Compass, and Patriot. Other vehicles getting the axe include Chrysler’s PT Cruiser and Sebring.

Instead, we’ll get to enjoy several new Alfa Romeos. In the pipeline are the MiTo and Milano hatchbacks as well as the replacement for the current 159, the Giulia mid-sized sedan. All three models are due after 2012 and are destined for production in North America.

All will depend on how Chrysler copes with the next two years as the struggling automaker will have to rely mostly on its current model range. Chrysler’s U.S. market share dipped to 8.3% in September, down from 11.1% the year before, and with next-to-no models in the small car segments this figure is likely to deteriorate further.

[Wall Street Journal]