By on November 11, 2019

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]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

26 Comments on “Sustainability: Manley and Alfa Romeo Think Small...”


  • avatar
    ravenuer

    “…….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….”.

    What are these people smoking when they come up with these predictions?

    • 0 avatar

      Sergio was a chain cigarette smoker and also coffee Espresso addict.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve203

      >>What are these people smoking when they come up with these predictions?<<

      It's boardroom groupthink. In retrospect, the sales projections for Edsel were delusional too.

      "Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome."

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Last week I was walking the dog and saw a Alfa Stelvio parked on the street. A dozen houses down from that was a Giulia parked in a driveway. I thought to myself: what are the chances of two Alfa vehicles on the same street? One in a million?

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      At the moment there are four Alfa Romeo dealers listed in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Two of them are less than 17 miles apart in Northern Virginia and the other two are at the opposite ends of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. The dealer inventories are full of sedans and hatchbacks that are AWD automatic compacts powered by Chicom-compliant low-reving two liter heat pumps and priced between forty-six and fifty-six thousand dollars. They’re either targeting very specific customers or they’re complete buffoons.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    That picture: Horse collar grille is on its way out; ox yoke grille is on the rise. (Look carefully and you’ll see what I mean.)

  • avatar
    Mnemic

    Somebody clearly got sick of them blowing the bank account on silly pet projects while the bread and butter rotted on the table. I’d expect a similar reeling in of Maseratiturd soon as well. Should have sold Alfa when VW was asking – they’d just be re-skinned Audis but its not like any buyers would really care, and it would be a complete line up too. FCA never could afford to do this properly and I am glad they are finally waking up.

    • 0 avatar
      Serpens

      There won’t be any reeling in of Maserati; as a matter of fact, the sports cars culled from Alfa will be presenting themselves with Maserati badges.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Maserati should have been combined with and sold with Ferrari. Instead of increasing Ferrari production ,it should have been kept exclusive, with Maserati providing volume. The connection with Ferrari (and a few hand-me-down engines) would have given Maserati enough status to give the combined company enough volume to remain profitable.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    An illustrative story: my daughter bought her first new car, a Hyundai Elantra GT, and the store shares space (rather bizarrely) with an Alfa/Fiat store. While she was finishing up the paperwork on her car, I checked out the “Alfa half.” It was completely unmanned, and the lights were off at six o’clock on a Wednesday night. The lady who handled my daughter’s sale said the last Alfa-only salesman switched to Hyundai months ago and she can’t even recall the last time they sold an Alfa.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      That’s a sad thing. The Giulia has some very interesting things about it. There are just so many “headwinds” keeping it down. The main one being the reliability concerns. I would like to see the brand stay around and improve its quality and make its way back to being considered a respectable choice in the US market. That idea is definitely in peril, to say the least.

      Another sad thing is that I don’t think all of Alfa’s problems are even their own fault. The idea of driving something imported, with a foreign character, is supposed to be a selling point for a brand like Alfa. But somehow, I think that idea feels more scary than desirable in the year 2019. Maybe it has always been that way, but I think there is a sub-conscious belt-tightening going on, and it’s hitting this type of brand harder than others.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “ I would like to see the brand stay around”

        Then buy one. Oh, you won’t? You’ll just sit back and complain that other people aren’t buying them so you can talk about them on the internet?

        • 0 avatar
          SPPPP

          “Then buy one. Oh, you won’t? You’ll just sit back and complain that other people aren’t buying them so you can talk about them on the internet?”

          You can’t buy them all, JimZ.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve203

      >> I checked out the “Alfa half.” It was completely unmanned, and the lights were off at six o’clock on a Wednesday night.<<

      When the Fiat stores were originally set up in the US, existing CDJR stores were required to set up a separate showroom for Fiat. Last summer, I was at a dealer to check out a new 500C. The Fiat showroom was on the opposite side of the entrance to the CDJR service department. The Fiat badge was still on the side of the building, but what had been Fiat showroom space had been given over to desks for the used car salesmen. The lone Fiat salesman's desk was in a back corner of the space.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    >>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.<<

    That entire discussion of Alfa and the Giorgio was odd in the conference call. They talked about how the Giorgio's suspension and electrics have been revised to allow for electrification, and how the heavy rework required the write-off. He was talking about how there are actually few platforms across the industry and the revised Giorgio could have applications elsewhere.

    Then there was the discussion of new and electrified product for Maserati, and the comment that, as we have deduced over the last couple years, FCA is prioritizing profit margin over volume.

    In the back of my mind is the thought that Alfa is being wound down and the products under development will be badged as Masers, at a higher ATP and higher margin.

    Let's see if, next year, the Alfa Formula 1 team is renamed Maserati.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I wonder how many Ram trucks and Jeeps have to be sold to make up the losses on one Alfa?

  • avatar
    IBx1

    They only make automatics; I couldn’t care less what happens to them.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Umm, they only sell automatics in the US because Americans typically only buy automatics. You can get manual equipped Alfas in other parts of the world where folks buy them. Own any manuals built this decade? If not, perhaps that look in the mirror is in order.

  • avatar
    robc123

    I have the ti version of the stelvio and it’s great. 22000km on the clock and not a single problem. It’s super fun to drive I’ve never taken a vehicle on so many road trips.

    When the lease is up its a toss up between the bently and the V6 quadrofollio. Don’t get me wrong, the 4-cylinder has plenty of power, is leagues better than the Macan,Audi, VW, BMW range/land rover.

    But I think everybody is tech-heavy these days, and the interior is great but a touch lower end than it should be. But I don’t really care about that stuff. The adaptive cruise is great in the Alfa though.

    Driving wise, this car is by far the best out of all of them I test drove them all. It’s a driver’s car. I still think the nav is better than the alpha than the Porsche.

    it’s too bad they’re not selling more plus you can get great deals on them unlike Porsche.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve203

      >>When the lease is up its a toss up between the bently and the V6 quadrofollio. <<

      FCA writing off the platform under the present Giulia and Stelvio implies those models will not live long enough to amortize the platform. However, comments on the conference call imply that the revised, electric-compatible, platform will be available, with a Maserati badge pasted on it, at a significantly higher price.

  • avatar
    Morea

    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.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    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.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • mjg82: Last night I tried logging on the site and got a ‘Jetpack has blocked your IP for suspicious...
  • MRF 95 T-Bird: I have a soft spot for the X-type wagon. Just to be different at the local garden supply. They only...
  • Hummer: “ but then “more solid axles” – how in god’s green earth is that going to increase sales? With notable but...
  • Windy: Why has no automaker made true Vertical integration work? Ford made the strongest run at it last century with...
  • DenverMike: The marketplace sets the price/transactional, but labor is a relatively small expense, and sweatshop...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States