As Alfa Romeo Giulias Literally Lose Momentum, the Giulia's Market Momentum is Picking Up

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

We can’t call it The Big Mo. Medium Mo might also be too strong a term.

But Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Alfa Romeo division is beginning to pick up a measure of Giulia sales momentum in the United States. And with the launch of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Alfa’s first utility vehicle, occurring now, we should expect to see major improvements in the third and fourth-quarter of 2017.

But this big medium modest momentum comes as high-profile Alfa Romeo Giulias, the Giulias that land in the hands of the people who tell the world about the Giulia, fail with shocking regularity.

The latest failure? Last night, in the hands of a Jalopnik crew that lived to tell the tale.

Month after month after month, Alfa Romeo reports ever higher Giulia sales in the U.S. In fact, Giulia sales doubled between March and June. Sure, you expect to see sales ramp up during a launch phase, but doing so with an all-new car and a relatively unknown brand in a limited dealer network is no easy feat.

Is the Giulia a popular car? No. In June, the Giulia’s best month to date, the rapidly declining Volvo S60 outsold the Alfa. And the S60, you’ll recall, is not a popular car.

However, the climb to 992 sales last month — more than what the Jaguar XE has managed in each of the last three months — was fairly rapid. Month-over-month, Giulia sales rose 31 percent in April, 39 percent in May, and 12 percent in June, ending a second-quarter with 160-percent more sales than in 2017 Q1.

But that momentum is not going to be sustainable as word gets around that the cars Alfa Romeo is handing out to the press are failing at a rate that modern automotive journalists — and perhaps automotive journalists of any era — have never seen. I’ve tested around 250 different cars over the last half-decade and have yet to experience a failure beyond infotainment or power tailgate operation.

We’ve described Alfa’s situation in the past. Consumer Reports’ Giulia was spending so much time at the dealer that editors weren’t getting a chance to drive it. The Alfa Romeo Giulia that won a comparison test at Car And Driver couldn’t always keep its engine running. Motor Trend tested multiple failing Giulias; Jalopnik’s Quadrifoglio tester was a quality nightmare.

Then, in a PistonHeads video published last week, a Giulia Quadrifoglio died on track.

So we’re driving on I-87 and our Alfa Romeo Giulia just shat the bed

— Patrick George (@bypatrickgeorge) July 13, 2017

Last night, Jalopnik experienced exactly what we were all told we would experience with Alfa Romeo. With fewer than 2,000 miles under its belt, the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia “started shuddering,” Michael Ballaban writes.

“The throttle was barely working,” Ballaban says. “I’d give it a light brush, and the car would go into conniption fits, its gearbox bogging and its motor unable to provide acceleration.”

Today, Road And Track’s Sam Smith described a track test in which a Giulia, “couldn’t hold together long enough to give me one full lap.”

To be fair, not all Alfa Romeo Giulia press cars break down. Our own Chris Tonn spent a week with an Alfa Romeo Giulia that remained in operation, although it did struggle to tell temperature.

But the fact that we’re surprised to learn of an Alfa Romeo Giulia that doesn’t feel at some point during a week-long test does not bode well for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, nor for Alfa Romeo’s U.S. fortunes in toto. So far, FCA has found itself capable of finding more and more U.S. buyers for the clearly exceptional driver’s car that is the Alfa Romeo Giulia. For that momentum to continue, a much higher percentage of Alfa Romeo Giulias will need to maintain momentum on the road, as well.

[Image: FCA]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Bazza Bazza on Jul 14, 2017

    I'm not sure this is surprising enough to warrant a post. Who in their right mind thought this flashy POS was going to spend any less than half its service life in a dealer service bay?

  • Forty2 Forty2 on Jul 15, 2017

    I don't exactly live in the sticks and travel all over N. America for work and I still have yet to see a Giulia in the wild. I hope it looks better than photos where it invokes a melty Chrysler 200 aside from the shnoz.

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three