Since arriving in the late-2000s Alfa has not been the sales success it’s parent company Fiat Chrysler was expecting. After peaking in 2018 selling 23,800 vehicles sales are slipping. That’s in spite of having more models and more dealers. Alfa is on track to sell only 18,000 vehicles for all of 2019. Now, it looks like Alfa will ditch its sports cars-which it is known for, to concentrate on SUVs and crossovers.
“The volume segments are the ones that matter, as much as I love the specialty cars,” says Bob Broderdorf, who is the director of Alfa Romeo North America. Talking to Automotive News at the 2019 LA Auto Show this week, he said, “My core focus in the short term is products like the Tonale.”
Tonale SUV will arrive in mid-2020
The Tonale is Alfa’s small SUV set arrive in mid-2020. The concept version debuted in March at the Geneva Auto Show. Alfa has said the concept is very close to showing the production version of the Tonale. A number of Alfa executives have said the Tonale will become Alfa’s best-selling vehicle. So, Alfa has high hopes for the crossover aimed at the BMW X1.
Jeep’s Renegade platform is the basis for the Tonale. Power will be from the hybrid system used in the Renegade. A front 236 hp gasoline engine will be linked to a rear-mounted electric motor. Alfa head Tim Kuniskis says, “The Tonale will embrace our core brand principals: advanced engine technology, electrification, distance proportions, and stunning Italian design. We will not launch just another CUV-we will launch a CUV as only Alfa can.”
Alfa’s 400,000 sales target has been “reset”
A sales target of 400,000 Alfa products sold worldwide was its initial intent. The Tonale was to be a big part of that. But with sales for the brand sliding down, that has changed. “It was an overambitious estimation of how big the brand can grow,” says FCA CEO Mike Manley. “The plans have been reset to an extent, but there still has to be relatively strong sales.”
The Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV will be updated for 2021. The Tonale will launch in 2021 and a small SUV will be added in 2022. Many say that the styling of the Tonale is similar to the Stelvio.
Alfa is killing sports cars and sedans for SUVs like Tonale
Plans originally called for the Tonale and small SUV would be followed by a new GT4 coupe and an 8C sports car. Both the coupe and sports car have now been shelved after it was announced Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group would merge. With that merger imminent, it seems that there are a lot of crossover products between PSA and Alfa models. Might the newly formed company kill the Alfa brand?
According to Broderdorf, the answer is no, “The plan for Alfa Romeo is rock solid and we will continue to grow, one sale at a time, one consumer at a time.” So, as with many other manufacturers management is doubling down on SUVs and trucks to give it a better foundation for success.