Exploring Alfa Romeo's Big 'Sales Surge' in 2017

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
exploring alfa romeos big 8216 sales surge in 2017

Alfa Romeo “outperformed all others in U.S. sales last year,” posting astronomical year-over-year gains. At least, that’s how Bloomberg frames it in a recent news article. By that logic, infants everywhere outperformed long-distance runners by taking their first steps last year.

As Fiat Chrysler’s sexiest brand, Alfa has only recently made its return to the North American market. Therefore, referencing a large improvement in overall sales isn’t quite so impressive, considering the borderline mainstream Giulia has only just been added to the product lineup. Prior to 2017, the brand’s singular offering in the United States was the mid-engined 4C sports car.

In 2016, Alfa Romeo only shipped 516 cars inside the United States — which was actually a modest decrease from 2015. However, adding the sedan to the lineup yielded 12,031 deliveries in 2017. While that’s all well and good for the company, the vast majority of those can be attributed to the Giulia, and that model was trounced by the Audi A4, BMW 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and most other vehicles in the entry-level Euro luxury segment. Even outliers like the Jaguar XE managed to beat the Giulia by a few hundred cars.

That’s not to say the Alfa isn’t deserving of a place in the market. Despite some questionable reliability issues, the Giulia has been exceptionally well received by automotive enthusiasts. FCA definitely delivered on the brand’s historic charms (and faults). But it’s still too early to call Alfa Romeo an American success story.

This year will give us a much better sense of where the brand is heading, and whether or not FCA is ready to move more volume. The Stelvio crossover arrives in larger numbers in 2018 (FCA moved 997 of them in December) and Alfa has admitted it needs to work on figuring out what the market wants from it.

Carlock Motor Cars in Nashville told Bloomberg it had trouble keeping desirable Giulias in stock. Buyers are looking for a particular version — the souped-up TI Sport package, typically in a bright color. “It was a little counterintuitive for us,” sales manager Mitchell Sherwood explained. “They’re definitely not buying it in silver with black interior and trying to blend in.”

Picky customers haven’t crippled sales, but Alfa Romeo will still need to tweak its supply to ensure the most tempting offerings populate dealer showrooms. Even still, it’s a long climb to the top and the brand is still on the bottom rung of the ladder. “We want to make sure we earn our position in the segment,” said Pieter Hogeveen, Alfa’s director in North America. “It’s not just chasing sales numbers for us.”

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Bd2 Bd2 on Jan 06, 2018

    Not surprising that Giulia buyers are looking for the higher performance models in brighter colors as it is the type of vehicle/brand that appeals to enthusiasts. As for the rest of the luxury sedan buyers, the vast majority don't care about the Giulia's handling prowess and/or scared off by Alfa's quality woes.

  • Akear Akear on Jan 07, 2018

    Every Cadillac model outsells the Giulia. It is probably one of the slowest selling luxury cars in North America.

  • MaintenanceCosts Gorgeous, even if the W124 coupe is even better. Too bad about that paint color, though.
  • Fred I don't know about those big screens. Is there a way to minimize the display, so it's not so distracting? Especially at night the glow doesn't make it easy for me.
  • Arthur Dailey Toronto Blue Jays' games are only available on AM radio. As I am 'on the road' quite often when the Jays play that is my only option for listening to the game. So an AM radio is something of a 'must have' for me.
  • JMII My brother tracked one of these for several years... it will embarrass other sports cars. He sold it to someone who still rips it around on track days. Given my previous VW experience I wouldn't touch it but these are surprising quick and handle well for hatchback credit going to a decent AWD system. $16k seems crazy, but Rs aren't that common and this one appears to be in great condition and seems well sorted.
  • Arthur Dailey I meant the grille and the profile along the passenger area. Look closely and it is reminiscent of the Journey.