Sustainability: Manley and Alfa Romeo Think Small

sustainability manley and alfa romeo think small

As we told you last week, the Alfa Romeo brand’s near-term future contains far less excitement than initially thought. In Fiat Chrysler’s third-quarter earnings report, the automaker revealed a severely pared-down product portfolio for the struggling Italian brand. Gone are plans for a new 8C and GTV.

As the product picture becomes clear, it seems Alfa has even fewer items to dole out than once believed — which might be just the thing for a brand that’s struggling to leave the launch pad.

As reported by several media sources, the third model available in North America, the 4C, has ended production. No successor is in the works, and there’ll certainly not be a returning 8C in the coming five-year window. Overseas, the Giulietta could disappear in the coming year, union sources tell Automotive News.

The previous version of the company’s five-year plan called for seven models and sales of 400,000 vehicles per year; in the first nine months of 2019, global Alfa sales totalled just over 67,000 vehicles, JATO Dynamics data reveals. That’s a year-to-date decline of 31 percent.

The about-face leaves the Giulia sedan, Stelvio SUV, and a smaller utility vehicle bound for the compact class. That model, due for 2021, will feature an available plug-in hybrid powerplant, with a B-segment utility arriving the following year. Expect a battery-electric version.

According to FCA CEO Mike Manley, the long-wheelbase versions of the Giulia and Stelvio once planned for the Chinese market will not make it off the drawing board. Once-promised plug-in versions of the two models are nowhere to be seen.

“I fundamentally believe in the brand but we must make sure that any investments that we make generate an appropriate return,” Manley said in an earnings call. “We will also maintain the brand’s premium position.”

While Alfa’s foreseeable future is far more modest than previously planned, the idea of introducing splashy models with high development costs amid falling sales clearly rubbed FCA brass the wrong way. With the new plan, the automaker hopes to grow the brand in a much more structured manner. Slowly, yes, but perhaps more surely.

Manley claims the Giulia and Stelvio’s Giorgio platform has been updated to allow for plug-in variants when the company feels taking that plunge. It could also prove a useful piece of architecture for PSA Groupe, with which FCA plans to merge.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Morea Morea on Nov 11, 2019

    Since the 1960s the Spider has always been the best selling Alfa Romeo in the USA. When Americans think Alfa they think Spider (e.g., The Graduate). The new Fiat 124 Spider should have been branded as an Alfa Romeo as originally intended. Calłing it a Fiat was a marketing mistake but was likely a sop to struggling Fiat dealers. Also, the Alfa 4c was always intended to be built only for a limited time. It was likely a loss leader for FCA. Of course, it will eventually become a sought-after collector's item like the Alfa 8c is today.

  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Nov 12, 2019

    Like most of the B&B , Alfa needs to go after purists.A manual coupe 4 cyl. version priced under 50k should stir some interest or a rebadged PSA hot hatch under the Alfa badge could too.

  • Kurkosdr Someone should tell the Alfa Romeo people that they are a badge owned by a French company now.The main reason PSA bought FiatChrysler is that PSA has the technology to enter the luxury market but customers don't want a French luxury car for psychological/mindshare reasons. FiatChrysler has the opposite problem: they have lots of still-respected brands but not always the technology to make good cars. Not to say that if FCA has a good platform, it won't be used in a PSA car.In other words, if those Alfa Romeo buds think that they will remain a silo with their own bespoke platforms and exclusive sheet metal, they are in for a shock. This is just the start.
  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.