The Fatal Flaw In Stellantis' Plan For Alfa Romeo
10 Years To Prove Themselves Is Plenty Of Time IF Stellantis Solve This
Recently, the automotive giants of PSA and FCA merged to form Stellantis. This new super manufacturer has recently released a plan for two of its least selling brands: Alfa Romeo and Chrysler, this plans dictates that these two companies have 10 years to prove their worth.
This article will be specifically focusing on Alfa Romeo's side to this. This is because there is a fatal flaw to the Stellantis plan: Alfa Romeo has the power of two of the largest car manufacturers combined to help them but these two manufacturers need to support them, and potentially won't (again). Alfa can't be selling like Toyota or Mazda overnight, over 10 years it is possible, but they need this support. "Well, just give them the support they need" you might say, but Alfa has been in situations like this before and FCA were actually taking away support rather than providing it.
Firstly, in 2015 Alfa Romeo was set to join forces with Mazda to create the next generation of sports cars. The Alfa would be called Spider and the Mazda MX5. They would have different stylings and a few other small tweaks but overall they would share most components, this had the car world's ears pricked because it was going to be the best of both worlds: Alfa Romeo styling and dynamics with Mazda quality and reliability. However, FCA stuck their nose in these plans decided that it would be a FIAT/Abarth project with Mazda, rather than Alfa Romeo. This lead to the creation of the new 124 and MX5.
This was a great opportunity for Alfa Romeo to rebuild its reputation as a sporty, interesting brand, but FCA ruined these plans and decided to help FIAT's image by handing the project over to them. Personally, I think Alfa needed their badge on this project more.
Secondly, Alfa Romeo released their new road map in 2019. It featured a smaller-than-Stelvio SUV, a new 8C and GTV and a larger-than-Stelvio SUV, nearly all of these were cancelled in 2020 as a result of "pairing back the range". The larger SUV was cancelled completely and so was the 8C and GTV, or so we thought. Months later, Maserati unveiled plans to make a new 600 horsepower, hybrid V6 supercar called the MC20. Funnily enough, these were the exact figures the Alfa GTV was set to have before its cancellation, this makes it obvious that FCA handed Alfa's plans over to Maserati. After this shakeup, Maserati has received a new supercar and plans for a new range of saloons and Alfa got a new small SUV.
Thirdly, Alfa Romeo recently announced the ending of the billion dollar Giorgio platform. This rear drive, front engined platform was set to turn the companies fortunes around and be the rebirth of Alfa Romeo in 2017. Now, 4 years later Stellantis have killed the platform and intend for most of Alfa's future models to be based on the electric STLA Large and Medium platforms which currently underpin Peugeot's electric models. Alfa Romeo’s CEO, Jean-Phillppe Imparato, confirmed: “We are working on the large platform of Stellantis and we will no longer use the Giorgio. We must take advantage of the volumes to take all possible opportunities and bring an EV range to Alfa Romeo, but always with the touch of Alfa Romeo.”
Maserati's new small SUV the Grecale, which is designed to rival the likes of the Porsche Macan, will be based on a modified version of the Giorgio platform but will use an engine from the MC20 that has been detuned. Other large models under the Stellantis brand will use this modified version of Giorgio, but it is not a long term solution. Interestingly, Stellantis have taken Alfa's own platform, modified it and given it to other brands, whilst Alfa is left with underpinnings from Peugeot.
Finally, Alfa is now using a more cost effective solution to the future, but one that will hinder its appeal to petrol heads. This suggests that Stellantis are sending Alfa Romeo into a direction where they will be primarily appealing to non car enthusiasts. This is a good way to earn sales, however, if they keep passing around plans, platforms and ideas like a game of hot potato, Alfa will end up in a total mess. Surely, if anyone knows how to run Alfa Romeo it is Alfa Romeo themselves (Sergio Marchionne in particular). Stellantis have the power to kick start a new era for Alfa Romeo, but they need to learn from the past mistakes made by FCA if they truly want Alfa to survive.
We have seen what can happen to a brand if their parent company gives them support: Maserati went from making a GT car and two saloons (all of which were outdated) to now selling supercars, SUVs and overall being a much more respected brand with an impeccable image. Just concentrate on what you think of when I say "Maserati", personally, I think of dark blue, chrome, tastefulness, luxury and excitement. All these things have been created from pretty much nothing!
If Stellantis give Alfa Romeo the boost Maserati received, they can have a brand that sells well to the average Joe and gives petrol heads a fluttery heart. As well as giving this boost, they need to leave Alfa too it and provide them with the resources they need, rather than interfering with everything, let alone cmd deleting their plans.