Alfa Romeo Milano Renamed ‘Junior’ to Satisfy Italian Law

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Following criticisms and potential legal actions stemming from the Italian Minister for Business, Alfa Romeo has opted to rename the recently revealed Milano crossover. The subcompact model will now be called the “Junior,” which sounds like the kind of name someone comes up with for a small car out of sheer desperation.

As previously mentioned, the issue is that the vehicle is being assembled in Poland. Italian Business Minster Adolfo Urso had claimed that the model using the Milano name would be banned due to preexisting legislation that forbids the existence of products stemming from outside the country being marketed as Italian. Since Milano is the name of Alfa’s hometown, giving it to a vehicle assembled in Poland may qualify as taboo.

To remedy the matter, Stellantis swiftly had Alfa Romeo change the name “ in the spirit of promoting mutual understanding.” However, the companies also stated that they believed the crossover’s name met all legal requirements — adding that “there are issues much more important than the name of a new car.”

In a press release, the company stated that it had plenty of great names to choose from and that it wasn’t really a big deal that it felt obligated to swap names. But if you believe that, you also probably believe that Alfa Romeo Junior sounds just as good as Alfa Romeo Milano.

“We are perfectly aware that this moment will remain engraved in the history of the brand. It's a great responsibility but at the same time it's an exciting moment. The choice of the name Alfa Romeo Junior is completely natural, as it is strongly linked to the history of the brand and has been among our favorites and among the public's favorites since the beginning,” Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato stated.

“As a team, we are choosing once again to share our passion for the brand and make the product and our customers the priority. We decided to change the name, even though we know that we are not required to do so, because we want to preserve the positive emotion that our products have always generated and avoid any type of controversy. The attention to our new sports compact that we’ve received the past few days is quite exciting as we had an unprecedented number of visits to the online configurator, causing the website to crash for a couple hours.”

However, your author doesn’t really know where the line is drawn on such things and it seems like there may be some gray space within the law itself. For example, loads of Italian automobile brands are presently owned by foreign parent companies. Alfa Romeo is owned by Stellantis — which is partially owned by the French government, the Dutch holding company Exor, and was the result of a merger between the Italian-American Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and France’s PSA Groupe. Lamborghini has likewise been owned by Volkswagen Group for ages and even shares platforms with German automobiles. Fiat, another iconic Italian brand under the Stellantis umbrella, has had facilities located in Eastern Europe churning out cars for decades.

Are those examples all fine under Italian law, provided production remains localized? It’s understandable that the nation wants to keep hold of its cultural impact on the world. But we’ve all been to the grocery store and bought products that appeared Italian, only to read the packaging and find out the truth. Pepperidge Farm Incorporated, headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut, sells Milano cookies. They are made in Pennsylvania, not under the Tuscan sun.

[Images: Stellantis]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 17 comments
  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Apr 17, 2024

    If Stellantis had any cojones, they'd have re-named it "Adolfo" after the Italian Business Minister. Let him argue that's an Italian name.

  • Akear Akear on Apr 18, 2024

    The front reminds me of the Pontiac Aztec, though it does look better than that infamous vehicle. I predict they will sell about 5,000 of these annually.

  • NJRide So this is an average age of car to be junked now and of course this is a lower end (and now semi-orphaned) product. But street examples seem to still be worth 2500? So are cars getting junked only coming in because of a traumatic repair? If not it seems a lot of cars being junked that would still possibly worth more than scrap.Also Murilee I remember your Taurus article way back what is the king of the junkyard in 2024?
  • AMcA I applaud Toyota for getting away from the TRD performance name. TuRD. This is another great example of "if they'd just thought to preview the name with a 13 year old boy."
  • Jeff Does this really surprise anyone? How about the shoes and the clothes you wear. Anything you can think of that is either directly made in China or has components made in China likely has some slave labor involved. The very smart phone, tablet, and laptop you are using probably has some component in it that is either mined or made by slave labor. Not endorsing slave labor just trying to be real.
  • Jeff Self-driving is still a far ways from being perfected. I would say at the present time if my car took over if I had a bad day I would have a much worse day. Would be better to get an Uber
  • 2manyvettes Time for me to take my 79 Corvette coupe out of the garage and drive if to foil the forces of evil. As long as I can get the 8 track player working...