New Alfa Romeo Giulia Must Have The “Wow!” Factor.
“If the new Giulia isn’t absolutely stunning, all bets are off for Alfa”
Troubled Italian sports car maker Alfa Romeo will unveil its new Giulia sedan Wednesday in Italy and if it isn’t a big hit, it might well spell curtains for this famous brand and send shockwaves through its owner Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).
FCA has decided that Alfa will spearhead its drive to breach the virtual monopoly of BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Jaguar Land Rover in the premium and high profit margin sports sedan and SUV market.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has allocated $5.6 billion to fund Alfa Romeo’s renaissance and plans for annual sales to reach 400,000 in 2018 – up from a paltry 68,000 in 2014 – with 150,000 in the U.S. The plan envisages eight new models starting with the Giulia mid-size sedan, which will compete against the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Mercedes C-class and Jaguar XE. After the Giulia, Alfa is expected to announce a full-sized sedan, two SUVs, coupe and roadster versions of the Giulia and two little Giulettas.
If the new Giulia isn’t absolutely stunning, all bets are off for Alfa. Even if it is a magnificent machine, it will still have to seize sales from the incumbents; no easy task.
And not many experts think Alfa Romeo can succeed, with most reckoning it will be lucky to reach much over half the 400,000 total.
Professor Stefan Bratzel, from the Center of Automotive Management in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, thinks the plan is flawed, particularly as it focuses so much on North America, from where Alfa Romeo decamped in 1995.
“I don’t think the plan will fully succeed because it is too ambitious, especially in North America where there are not many people left who really know about Alfa Romeo and it will be really hard to re-establish the brand,” Bratzel said.
How will Marchionne find $5.6 billion in funding?
“Marchionne needs money to fund research and development of many projects in coming years especially when looking at alternative power trains. He’s been looking around for partners like GM and others. It’s really hard to find this kind of money,” Bratzel said.
“Marchionne is looking for partners, but nobody is really interested,” he said.
Marchionne has been openly seeking merger or alliance partners since saying the global auto industry was guilty of over-production and wasting money by duplicating research and development.
“This (Alfa Romeo) project is probably going to be a partial or total flop, depending on how the first one or two models are accepted in the market,” Bratzel said.
He did concede that Alfa Romeo had an interesting heritage, and that it was renowned for impressive interior and exterior design.
“That’s the reason why (former Volkswagen board chairman Ferdinand) Piech finds the brand interesting,” he said.
Piech has made no secret of the fact that he would like to buy Alfa Romeo and bring it into the VW fold.
“But there are some quite good competitors out there,” Bratzel said.
Alfa Romeo has done a great job keeping pictures of the new Giulia out of the media so that maximum impact will be made when the car is unveiled tomorrow in Italy.
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