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Alfa Romeo Celebrates 110 Years While Struggling in the USA.

Alfa Romeo announced celebrations planned to mark the manufacturer’s 110th birthday. The celebrations will continue through the end of Sunday in Italy. But, here in the USA, the Alfa Romeo brand is hardly noticed, and certainly not celebrated in any major way. In fact, Alfa Romeo has been struggling to get its feet under the brand since it came back to the USA back in 2014.

Alfa Romeo's lineup | FCA
Alfa Romeo’s lineup | FCA

Birthday celebrations for Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo launched its birthday celebrations in a press release earlier this week. As part of the celebrations, the manufacturer has re-opened its historic museum in Arese, Italy. The museum holdings were previously concealed from public view. There are over 150 cars of significance related to the brand, as well as concept cars, prototypes, trophies, artwork, and engines. 

A red Alfa Romeo Spider from 1966 sites on a turntable in a museum.
1966 Alfa Romeo Spider Duetto 1600 | FCA

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The museum will also be unveiling a new display. The “Alfa Romeo in Uniform” exhibit will showcase cars of the Italian national police force. As the press release put it, 

“the museum’s new “Alfa in Uniform” section tells the story of the cars, the trims and the eras that have marked Italian history.”

In addition to the museum festivities, Alfa Romeo is also unveiling the new, limited edition, Giulia GTA to the public for the first time. About the new limited edition spec vehicle they offered, 

“The new Giulia GTA is based on the Giulia Quadrifoglio and is fitted with a more powerful version of the 2.9 V-6 bi-turbo engine with 540 hp. With its extensive use of ultra-light materials, it benefits from a weight reduction of 220 lbs (100 kg), achieving a best-in-class weight/power ratio of 6.2 lbs/hp (2.82 kg/hp).”

Celebrations for Alfa Romeo tempered in the USA

Celebrating 110 years is a huge achievement. The company has outlasted some other rivals. However, Alfa’s history here in the United States has been dotted. The company pulled out in the 1990s, only to return in 2014. The return was supposed to catapult the brand back into the consciousness of the American consumer. But, ask a potential customer right now about Alfa Romeo, and their typical response is a common question, are they still around?

The rear of a white Alfa Romeo 4C convertible sits on the coast at sunset.
2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider | FCA

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Alfa has made efforts to add models to raise brand awareness. In fact, the launch of the Guilia had a lot of fanfare. Ultimately, the model won the 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year award. The launch of the Stelvio, the brand’s SUV offering, was also well received by the press. But the press and the consumers opening their wallets are two different things, especially when the brand’s competition are the luxury brands of BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes. 

Merger delays are holding Alfa back

Alfa Romeo has another thing that is holding it back. The merger of FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and PSA (Peugeot Citroen) has caused the brands to look at possible overlapping products and related funds. There could conceivably be a loss of a model or two from its portfolio. But, the global COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the merger down. So, people are left scratching their heads, wondering what will happen. Rumors had suggested that the Alfa’s 8C model and another SUV that were planned were instead going to be axed. But, right now, it is a wait and see posture. It is difficult to say if that is true.

A blue Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan sits in a driveway.
2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia | FCA

Some had postulated that the whole Alfa brand itself might be shuttered but Carlos Tavares, PSA CEO, put those theories to bed when he said, 

“We love the history of car brands, it gives us a foundation on which we can project ourselves into the future. So today, I don’t see any need, if this deal is concluded, to remove brands because they all have their history and they all have their strengths.”

Citroen wants access the USA

Also part of the consideration for the future of the brand is that Alfa gives Citroen the in it needs to come to the United States. The established Alfa dealer network, indeed, the entire dealer network of FCA would be in Citroen’s hands for a launch into the US market. Citroen’s return to the USA is something that was considered prior to merger discussion even began.

In the meantime, Alfa Romeo deserves to celebrate its 110th birthday. It is a milestone few auto manufacturers reach. However, it is probably safe to say that the automaker’s future right now is a bit foggy in the United States. Until the merger business is solidified, no one really knows if Alfa will come out stronger, or if it will suffer some model losses. So, for the time being, consumers will probably continue to ask about the struggling automaker, are they still around?