The Slow Sad Demise Of Alfa Romeo Is Upon Us

In spite of having been a brand for 110 years, Alfa Romeo is withering away. Alfa’s assembly plant in Cassino, Italy, will stop producing the iconic Giulietta hatchback by the end of the month. The plant will be converted over to begin producing a Maserati SUV based on the Giorgio platform found under the Stelvio. It was expected that the slow-selling Giulietta would be killed off at some point, just not this soon. 

The new EV, 8C, and GTV formerly planned for 2021 have also been canceled. In addition, there are also rumors that the refresh of the Giulia and Stelvio scheduled for 2021 may be postponed. This might indicate those models may also be on their way to oblivion. Fiat Chrysler has not always been completely honest about its future product plans. Now, with the merger of the PSA Group completed by the end of the year, we may be on the verge of seeing more bad Alfa news.

Alfa Romeo has plans, it’s just unclear whether they make sense in this climate

The Paris Auto Show hosts a 2010 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider Roadster
The Paris Auto Show hosts a 2010 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider Roadster | Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Fiat Chrysler has a compact SUV planned for 2021. It will be based heavily on the Tonale concept from 2019. A smaller Alfa SUV in the B segment is supposed to debut in 2022. It will be offered in an EV version according to preliminary info. 

When the merger was first announced there was optimism directed at Maserati, but little revealed about the future of Alfa. Later Fiat Chrysler said it was cutting capital and adjusting Alfa’s future plans “to focus on current market strengths with reduced global reach and overlap with other group brands.” 

Everything that Alfa builds overlaps with other group brands

2019 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

In some ways everything that Alfa builds currently overlaps with other group brands. When you factor in the merged company with the additional PSA models there’s nothing but overlap. If Fiat Chrysler can’t make Alfa sales increase in the current climate it will be much harder to do in the crowded Fiat Chrysler/PSA structure. 

In the US Alfa saw a substantial drop in sales in 2019 of about 25%. It sold a little over 18,000 of all models, down from almost 24,000 in 2018. That is not enough sustained production to continue justification for being in the US. Fiat Chrysler might be throwing a bone to Alfa with the new SUVs to determine if there is any viability left. We won’t know what Alfa’s numbers are for 2020 until the end of the first quarter.

Alfa’s rollout into the US has gone like this; the 4C roadster first appeared here in 2013. Next came the Giulia sedan in 2015 and Stelvio SUV in 2017. With neither moving the meter much Fiat Chrysler is faced with billions of euros more to make a dent in the US market. It doesn’t have the capital or the time to invest in an uncertain brand.

There once was a time that Alfa was being groomed as a “near-luxury alternative”

Photo: FCA

Some within the company hoped to see Alfa remain in the market to establish it as a near-luxury alternative at some point. Right now it has no distinction to consumers. It’s a question mark as it has been out of the US for over 20 years. Many don’t know what it is or that it even exists. 

There will be many priorities for development capital once the merger is complete. It will be focussed on those brands and models that have substantial momentum. Brands like Jeep and Ram. Rather than trying to build its umpteenth brand it makes more sense for the combined manufacturer to instead double down on its winners. 

So long Alfa Romeo.