A lot is riding on the compact car to be the model that returns Alfa back to prominence

Add Alfa Romeo to the list of automakers jumping into the autonomous driving bandwagon. Alfa and Maserati boss Harald Wester said as much in a recent conversation with Autocar. According to Wester, an Autopilot system in the vein of what Tesla is using on the Model S is currently being developed for the Alfa Romeo Giulia.

It figures that the Italian automaker would use the Giulia as the first model to get dibs on autonomous driving. Alfa has made it known that the Giulia is the measuring stick that will determine whether the Italian automaker returns to its once prominent status. Installing an autopilot system on the compact car should go a long way in adding some much-needed appeal to the model.

Wester didn’t pin down a specific timetable on when the Giulia would get the autopilot feature, but he did mention that there was an emphasis to establish the compact car with the technology despite the lengthier timetable of 2024 that parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has set to get its entire company up to speed with full autonomous technology.

That’s how important the Giulia is to Alfa Romeo and, by extension, FCA. The current trend of the industry also lends further credence to the significance of autonomous driving, especially for an urban car like the Giulia. Wester himself admitted that despite public reservations on how a tech like autonomous driving would ruin the driver-oriented image of Alfa, it’s something that the company can ill afford to get left behind in. “We all know the situation, whether you live in London or Milan,” the Alfa boss told Autocar. “You go to work in the morning and very quickly you find yourself in a sequence of stopping and starting, and it is a real waste of time and energy. In the future we will start to give you that time back so you can spend it better."

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

This is a good move for Alfa Romeo and it’s come at a time when there’s really no automaker other than Tesla that can claim to being on the verge of offering autonomous driving technology to the market. The race is still afoot you can be sure that Alfa Romeo, as its own company, will be diving into the development of this tech without any reservations.

Something about this news also drew me back to a separate piece of news a few weeks ago involving FCA striking a partnership with tech giant Google to develop autonomous driving technology. Granted, the FCA-Google partnership is still in its infancy, but you can connect the dots from that news to this one. FCA, after all, is the parent company of Alfa Romeo so the former has the latter’s best interests at heart. FCA wants Alfa Romeo to succeed for the exact same reason that every other auto conglomerate wants its brands to succeed. If that involves giving the Giulia the head-start when it comes to autonomous driving technology just to give the model more appeal in its own segment, I don’t think that’s something neither FCA nor Alfa Romeo will hesitate to do.

It’s easy to say all of these things now with the tech still far from being polished. But it does say something that Alfa Romeo is willing to bank on this tech to help the Giulia become the model that it hopes can bring Alfa Romeo back to prominence. There’s a lot at stake here and the company, having already spent billions in the development of the Giulia’s architecture, is showing that, if anything, nobody can fault it for trying to swing for the fences.

Alfa Romeo Giulia

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the Alfa Romeo Giulia here.

Source: AutoCar

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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