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Alfa Romeo gears up for huge 2017

Big Italian: The Stelvio SUV will be the next Alfa model released as part of its global product rollout.

Giulia leads product rollout as Alfa Romeo looks to take sales from the Germans

12 Dec 2016

ALFA Romeo Australia’s new chief says the brand will once again be a success Down Under thanks to the roll-out of an all-new and expansive product line-up, a standalone dealer network and a focus on its storied heritage.

The iconic Italian brand will essentially relaunch in Australia early next year with the arrival of the Giulia mid-size sedan that will spearhead an all-new product portfolio of at least six models by the end of the decade.

Following the Giulia, which goes on sale in February, will be the mechanically related Stelvio SUV in 2018, followed by a full-size large sedan, two more SUVs a pair of speciality cars – likely to be sportscars – and a hatchback to replace the ageing Giulietta, all by 2020.

Speaking with journalists in Melbourne, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia president and CEO Steve Zanlunghi said the company would highlight Alfa’s heritage in rebuilding the brand Down Under.

“We are going to play on the brand’s values and pillars – passion, emotion and Italian heritage,” he said. “We’ve heard (FCA CEO) Sergio Marchionne say that no Alfas will be built outside of Italy while he is CEO. That’s something he has stayed true to.

“What we would like to do is we want the product to stand for itself because we believe in this product so much, we have taken our time to make sure that when we come to market it is the right product.

“When we created this new-generation Alfa Romeo, we sequestered off the best of the best within the organisation across Fiat, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari. In fact two lead product engineers came from Ferrari and we pulled them away from the regular machine called Fiat Chrysler and this (Giulia) is the output of it. We are going to play off that.

“We are looking to appeal to that whole range of the 40-something (buyer) all the way up to the old Alfistis that have been with us forever that really know where it is.”

 center imageLeft: FCA Australia president and CEO Steve Zanlunghi.Mr Zanlunghi acknowledged that it would be a challenge attracting rusted on buyers of the big three premium German brands – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – but said the quality of the new product would be a major selling point.

“The closing factor is going to be getting into the car and actually driving the vehicle. The key is getting the car in front of the customers and daring them to compare our cars. (Daring) Anyone intending on buying a typical German safe car to look at us. I’m fairly confident if we get customers into our vehicles that they will be impressed.

“The quality and the design features and what you are seeing on this car is like something you haven’t seen on Alfa Romeo before.”

Mr Zanlunghi was coy on sales targets for Alfa Romeo in Australia, suggesting that company was not chasing huge volumes.

“We are not looking to take over the world with Alfa Romeo. We want sustained growth, we know that there are other established premium brands out there, and we do have internal targets that we want to hit and continue to hit to make a business case, then if we start exceeding them, then we can start adding in the aspirations on top.”

In recent times FCA Australia has had to contend with a dwindling Alfa line-up, a result of uncertainty following the global financial crisis.

Following the demise of the 159 mid-sizer in 2012, Alfa has only offered the Giulietta hatch, the MiTo light hatchback that was discontinued earlier this year and the limited production 4C sportscar.

As previously reported, FCA Australia will roll out a standalone dealer network for the Alfa brand in Australia, but until there is sufficient product to fill a showroom it is likely that some dealerships will include the Fiat and Abarth brands as well.

Mr Zanlunghi confirmed that there will be 18 Alfa Romeo dealerships operating in Australia by the end of next year.

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