Why I'm bullish on Alfa and Lancia after PSA/FCA became Stellantis

Hello, my name's Ale and I have an opinion

4w ago

I remember the instant I sat in the (then) new Alfa Giulia as if the moment was set in crystal, and I remember thinking, "who's ever gonna buy this?"

The Giulia was a commercial flop waiting to happen because it was a great car but a terrible product. It didn't really know what it was in terms of market positioning, it wasn't good enough as a daily to compete with German equivalents and too expensive to compete with everyone else. The interior was too spartan and the infotainment was shockingly bad. I know car people tend to scoff at this type of criticism but that's exactly the point.

Alfa was targeting mainstream buyers with a car made for car enthusiasts. Everybody loved it, but no one bought one. Consider this: in 2019, with only one model* sold in just one country, Lancia still outsold Alfa Romeo. Globally.

What now? Well, I'm sure financial analysts would tell me I'm wrong but I still think Stellantis is PSA incorporating FCA, and not a merger. How could it be? The CEO is Carlos Tavares, who will essentially retain the same position that he held at PSA. There are 11 members of the board and 6 of them come from PSA. And the French government, unlike the Italian government, will be involved.

Now, we can call it a merger as much as we like but the fact of the matter is, when push comes to shove, the ball's gonna be on the French court. So to speak. And that's a good thing because the fact of the matter is FCA, the short-lived partnership between Fiat and Chrysler formed in 2014, hasn't done much for any of its brands (apart from Jeep). Here we are, 7 years later, with Lancia and Alfa in worse shape than they were and Maserati, Dodge and Fiat still selling nothing but washed-up versions of old cars.

PSA, on the other hand, resurrected Opel and turned DS, a long-forgotten namesake from the golden era of motoring, into a standalone marque with a credible (and expanding) line up of cars and motorsport credentials. And they've also done a good job with Peugeot and Citroën, with both brands growing in terms of market share and cars that are getting better with each generation.

The bottom line is Alfa and Lancia need rebuilding. Apart from the styling, which is just about the only thing you can retain from the olden days (because of regulations), everything else has to be new. And it has to work. Some people hate to hear words like "practical" and "infotainment" but that's what sells these days.

We should never forget that the VW Group can build the Bugatti Bolide and the Lambo Sián because they sell a bunch a boring CUVs. Toyota can afford to build the Supra and not care if it doesn't sell because they sell a million Corollas (literally) every year. It goes on.

Stellantis can use brands like Peugeot, Chrysler and Citroën to make John and Jane Doe cars that sell. They can use Fiat to make cheap city cars. DS to build odd but stylish vehicles. They can do high-end performance with Maserati. Proper off-road credentials with Jeep and RAM. Muscle cars with Dodge. And that leaves them with (financial) room to do what they want with Alfa and Lancia.

*the Ypsilon, based on the Fiat 500, which is only available in Italy

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Comments (31)

  • "Alfa was targeting mainstream buyers with a car made for car enthusiasts. Everybody loved it, but no one bought one."

    That is an accurate assessment, but the general image of the brand and the ATROCIOUS marketing can't be disregarded as a factor contributing to poor sales; Stick a BMW badge on the Giulia and swap the scudetto for the kidneys and they'd sell like hotcakes, no one doubts that.

    Heck, people will be buying the new badger-toothed beemers - which begs the question, is something like a 3-Series a "car for the general public that enthusiasts like" or a "car for enthusiasts that the general public like"? Or more likely, "a good car that DECADES OF GREAT MARKETING makes into both a status symbol and an enthusiast's go-to choice?"

      1 month ago
    • car makers have to make sure their cars are bought, not liked. Look at the Renault Captur or the Nissan Qashqai (random examples). No one likes them, but they're best-sellers and once you have cars that sell, you can focus on cars that you...

      Read more
        1 month ago
    • The name is actually a double edged sword - a lot of ignoramuses simply identify it with "poor reliability". It's what I hear the most from non-car people - even the old tripe about "rust" still goes strong in pub talk.

      But yes - an...

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        1 month ago
  • Alfa Romeo would have a chance to being reinvigorated and compete amongst the domineering marques.

    Lancia on the other hand, is a difficult endeavor to reconnect the consumer market to the long diminished marque, some would argue the petrolheads will drive interest but those efforts might not translate to profitability for Stellantis.

      1 month ago
    • I've never seen a wider gap between car enthusiasts and the industry. Car makers know they need to cater to families and professional to shift units and grow and that's exactly what they're doing. Furthermore, and this is also a statistical...

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        1 month ago
    • I fear it’s not merely automotive brand agnosticism but the disconnection from the automotive market, most post-millennials have little aspirations for automobiles. The socio-economic inequality, geopolitical instability,...

      Read more
        1 month ago
  • The next Giulia will almost certainly be a Peugeot 508 with different body panels and that makes me sad

      1 month ago
    • I know, but it might save the brand

        1 month ago
    • "might" save the brand, might kill it once and for all - there is a definite risk to alienate the minute enthusiast crowd with a move like that, while also failing to attract the general public - who still go by the concept that "Alfa Romeos...

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        1 month ago
  • Side note: Citroën used to own Maserati. I think the problem, in Europe at least, is that they have a lot of brands that are all selling in the same space. VW has done a great job at differentiating its offerings, and Stellantis will have to do the same. Here's how I'd do it:

    * 500 should become its own brand, like MINI.

    * Peugeot should go up against the VW brand. Chrysler, Fiat, Opel and Vauxhall models should be derived from these vehicles.

    * Fiat should also be used for commercial vehicles.

    * Maserati should be competing with Bentley at a lower price point.

    * Abarth should be its own brand with an in-house successor to the 124 pitched at potential 718 buyers.

    * Citroën and DS should be competing with Audi / Audi RS.

    * Lancia should be competing with Škoda as the lower price point.

    * Dodge should be a performance only brand. Sell the MPVs as Chryslers.

    * RAM is doing fine as it is.

    * If Alfa can't attract BMW buyers, it should go after Seat buyers.

      28 days ago
    • I agree what all of it. And that's exactly what huge car groups have to do, it's part of the job

        28 days ago
  • Why I'm bullish on Alfa and Lancia after PSA/FCA became Stellantis @tribe

      1 month ago