Alfa Romeo Isn't Going to Meet Its 2017 Sales Targets - Blame China

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Alfa Romeo is on track to sell between 130,000 and 140,000 vehicles around the globe in calendar year 2017, a far cry from the 170,000-unit performance Sergio Marchionne expected Alfa to put together.

U.S. sales remain predictably low by the standards of rival brands but are rising quickly now that the Stelvio SUV is in action. But on the other side of the Pacific, new rules that limit automobile manufacturers from forcing dealers to accept stock, Automotive News Europe reports, has sorely limited sales in China. Thus, rather than the 2,666 Alfa Romeo Stelvios shipped to China in July, only 227 landed in China in August.

The result? Alfa Romeo is cutting back production of the Stelvio and Giulia in Cassino, Italy.

Alfa Romeo was already decreasing Stelvio and Giulia production in September 2017 with production stops on Fridays. Now the vehicles-built-per-shift has been cut 12 percent to 265. This essentially ends, or at the very least suspends, Alfa Romeo’s goals of selling 170,000 vehicles annually. That 170,000-unit sales goal, of course, was actually the far more realistic goal after Marchionne said in 2014 that Alfa Romeo would sell 400,000 vehicles annually by 2018.

Key to that forecast, at least in the mind of Alfa Romeo executives, was the U.S. incursion. Sure, Alfa Romeo sold only 74,000 vehicles in 2013, but that was without any effort in the U.S. market and without the RWD-based lineup that would surely spur demand.

Sales in the United States have by no means been profoundly low, but the ramp-up of what is essentially a new-to-America brand (for most buyers) takes a long time. Naturally, the Alfa Romeo Giulia doesn’t sell remotely as well as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series, or Audi A4. But Alfa Romeo is now averaging more than 900 U.S. sales per month, easily outselling the Jaguar XE over the last six months and nearly matching the pace of indirect domestic competition such as the Lincoln Continental and Cadillac CTS.

Yet with only 1,268 total sales in September, Alfa Romeo’s best month since arriving back in America, FCA’s middle Italian child hardly appears primed to produce the level of demand needed for the Cassino assembly plant to ignite a higher rate of production. China may be to blame for Alfa Romeo’s recent production downturn, but America’s luxury car buyers are hardly lending a helping hand.

[Images: Alfa Romeo]

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

Timothy Cain
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  • MGV001 MGV001 on Oct 20, 2017

    I'd help them with one sale, if it came with a 6 speed manual gearbox.

  • JohnnyHonda JohnnyHonda on Nov 29, 2017

    Have any of you guys ever owned an Alfa? You all seem to be such experts on the brand. Some of the comments are Really Stupid, you know who you are. I have an Alfa GT which I bought in '04 and I love the car. I put up a high mileage using it for my job for eight years and despite some local comments similar to their US cousins on this site, the car never let me down. Yes, I've had many different car brands as company cars over the years but the Alfa is special to drive. My son had a 156 which he liked as well. Please, comment on cars from your own experiences and not schoolyard drivel.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.