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

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
alfa romeo isnt going to meet its 2017 sales targets blame china

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.

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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.

  • Keith Maybe my market's different. but 4.5k whack. Plus mods like his are just donations for the next owner. I'd consider driving it as a fun but practical yet disposable work/airport car if it was priced right. Some VAG's (yep, even Audis) are capable, long lasting reliable cars despite what the haters preach. I can't lie I've done the same as this guy: I had a decently clean 4 Runner V8 with about the same miles- I put it up for sale around the same price as the lower mile examples. I heard crickets chirp until I dropped the price. Folks just don't want NYC cab miles.
  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.