Alfa Romeo has made promises about its future before and sales have been up and sales have been down. Now under the stewardship of mega-group Stellantis which also owns brands as varied as Maserati, Peugeot, Chrysler, Jeep and Vauxhall, Alfa Romeo has put a 10-year plan in place to ensure the survival of the classic Italian badge.
In charge of Alfa Romeo since the start of the year, CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato has now set in stone his plans to save the brand including five new models in the next five years.
The 10-year plan splits into two halves.
“The five year plan is coming, it is completely locked, validated and funded,” said Imparato.
“We will launch one car per year in the coming five years because this brand needs to refuel, to feed the business.”
Alfa Romeo currently sells two models; the Giulia saloon and the Stelvio SUV. It has already revealed it will start selling a smaller SUV called Tonale next year – likely to arrive in late spring.
Imparato believes a wider range of cars will appeal to a wider audience particularly a “younger, more female, more family oriented” community.
The Tonale will be Alfa Romeo’s first to be offered with a plug-in hybrid option. Alfa’s first fully electric car will come in 2024 with a second in 2025. And by 2027, according to Imparato, all models will be “100% electric”.
After the first five years, he said he will then finalise the second five year plan. This second plan will depending on the first’s success, but depending on how successful it is this could include “dream” cars that sell in smaller volumes such as sports cars.
However, Imparato doesn’t shy away from Alfa Romeo’s troubled past: “Before 1950 we were a luxury brand. In the 70s, 80s, 90s and '20, we jumped into the generalist world. We've had poor quality and a very discounted [range]. And then one day in 2015, we jumped into the luxury premium [segment] and pricing goes above €53,000. That's the story of Alfa Romeo over past 40 years.”
This leaves two questions, said Imaprato: “The first is on [product] quality and the second based on the quality of the business.”
Recognising that building cars that don’t have customers causes a problem with used car pricing – in turn pushing new car monthly payments higher because of significant depreciation – Imparato is also looking to control this by not setting himself a sales target.
His theory is that if supply matches demand then Alfa Romeos will have better residual values.
He claimed that at the start of 2021 only 38% of cars produced had a customer waiting, and that he had already worked on this to get that figure to 72% now. He added that he was looking to get this to 90% by the end of 2022.
This demand-led approach, which he calls a “pull strategy” means that Alfa Romeo will aim for pricing that’s in line with the equivalent BMW.
To help this aim, Alfa Romeo will also change the way it sells its cars by moving to a fixed price, no-haggle arrangement. This is set to be in place by mid-way through 2023.
Looking at the types of car Alfa Romeo will build in future, Imparato said the brand would operate in the biggest selling segments of the market that would include superminis and supermini-based SUVs.
“I'm absolutely convinced that the premium-ness of the brand is not linked to the size. I'm convinced that if I want to put Alfa Romeo on the safe side in terms of profit for the coming 10 years, I must be in the biggest segments of the world.”
For the all-electric cars he said these must be capable of the fastest charging, rather than having the longest range so that a lighter, more agile, better driving car is possible.
“I want to be electrically agile, that is completely consistent with the story and the DNA of Alfa Romeo. I would put the inertia more on fast charging than on range. Because if you are able to charge in 15, 20 minutes, it's another story. You don't have, anymore, to find the way to put too much battery in the car,” he said.
Commenting on the possible cars coming in the second five years of this 10-year plan, Imparato said he needed to “dream on top because Alfa Romeo must dream”.
And added: “I would dream of a Spider for 2028.”
What he didn’t say is if the next Spider would be electric, but given its position in the new product plan, you’d have to assume it will be.