Here's a Car Guaranteed Not to Boost Fiat Chrysler's Sales Numbers
No, it’s not a Fiat of any size or description — it’s the Alfa Romeo 4C. Specifically, a limited edition of an already scarce product, one that will only see 15 examples sent to the U.S. from the brand’s Modena, Italy factory.
Through this product intro, Fiat Chrysler revealed the 4C will linger on for the 2020 model year. While the 4C Spider Italia, priced five grand above a regular 4C Spider, doesn’t add a whole lot to the plate, it does give us an opportunity to look at Alfa’s sales health.
If you’re at all curious, the 2020 4C Spider Italia dons Misano Blue Metallic exterior paint and a piano black front intake and rear diffuser, plus graphics, special interior trim, and a numbered console plate. All yours for $5k above the Spider’s $68,495 (after destination) asking price. No doubt you’re on the phone with the bank already.
Of course, the 4C is not where Alfa Romeo draws its volume from. In 2018, just 238 Americans picked up a 4C — a 42 percent drop from the previous year, and less volume than the much-ignored Fiat 500X moved in January.
As sales of the two-seater decline, Alfa sales are picking up, though not to the levels once envisioned by the late Sergio Marchionne. Thank a longer-than-expected timeline for new vehicle introductions. Still, the Italian marque saw U.S. volume rise 98 percent in 2018, with the Stelvio SUV leading the way. Introduced in late 2016, the Stelvio sold 12,043 units last year, beating out the Giulia sedan. Some 11,519 Americans took home a Giulia in 2018.
Part of Alfa’s problem is a relative dearth of Alfa/Maserati dealerships in North America, with its Italian sister brand not doing much to help generate interest in FCA’s luxury portfolio. Concerns over quality can’t be ruled out, either.
Perusing the sales numbers, it’s clear Alfa needs new product to bolster its sales presence. The Giulia, for one, is a sedan, and no four-door is safe in today’s market. While Giulia sales rose 29 percent in 2018, it was only just coming online in early 2017, skewing the numbers a bit. Sales of the sedan sunk 14 percent in December, year over year, and 44 percent in January.
The Stelvio saw its sales sink 11 percent in January, which means little in the grand scheme of things. However, the struggling Jaguar brand provides ample evidence that one or two SUVs in a crowded market can’t always be counted on to boost a brand’s overall sales, though they do help margins (assuming the manufacturer doesn’t go wild with passenger car incentives).
Right now, the only new Alfa product on the horizon is a smaller SUV that reportedly borrows the Jeep Compass platform. The unnamed vehicle will appear with a plug-in hybrid option. While no doubt a volume-booster, forgive this author for not feeling the sexiness emanating from this mythical Compass-based hybrid crossover.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, © 2017 Chris Tonn/TTAC]
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