Alfa Romeo’s Pursuit Of More SUVs Could Make Or Break The Company
It goes without saying that the Stelvio has a lot to live up toby Kirby, on
You might say that Alfa Romeo has regained some of its footing in the auto industry after releasing the Giulia sedan and the Stelvio SUV. Both have been well-received across the board. You might even say that it’s back with a vengeance, words that I don’t take any particular issue with. But the truth is that Alfa Romeo still has a lot of work to do before we can say that it’s ready to compete against its more established rivals. The Giulia, for all of the rave reviews it has received, has posted disappointing sales numbers so far. If sales of the sedan don’t pick up anytime soon, the pressure now shifts to the Stelvio to be as good as the hype says it is and the two upcoming SUVs that Alfa Romeo has on the docket.
The two SUV models will occupy two different markets with the first one – the Kabal – setting up residence in the compact SUV segment. The other SUV – the Castello – will be much bigger than both the Stelvio and the Kabal as it joins the seven-seater SUV segment. Neither of the two SUVs have been officially confirmed, so plans could still shift depending on how successful the Stelvio is. For now, it looks like the Stelvio will have a go in the SUV market by itself, and the pressure is now on the SUV to be successful from the get-go, something that the Giulia sedan has struggled with.
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All eyes are on the Alfa Romeo Stelvio
|Alfa Romeo Giulia||Alfa Romeo Stelvio|
The silver lining here is that the Giulia is still in its first year run of production. Sales will eventually pick up as more and more people get used to seeing the sedan.
Here’s the concerning news for Alfa Romeo. FCA boss Sergio Marchionne thinks that sales of the Giulia would at least reach 75,000 units annually. It’s an ambitious number but the early returns have so far been worrisome. For example, European sales of the sedan have amounted to just over 20,000 in its first full year in the market there. U.S. sales have also been lower than expected, with only 2,483 models sold through the first five months of the year. The silver lining here is that the Giulia is still in its first year run of production. Sales will eventually pick up as more and more people get used to seeing the sedan. You can even make an argument that the upward trajectory of sales in the U.S. is very encouraging. So while its initial sales aren’t as fantastic as Alfa Romeo had hoped for, it’s too early to say if the Giulia is going to be a flop.
But the fact that it hasn’t been gotten off the gate in a blaze of glory puts even more pressure on the Stelvio to pick up the slack. Sales of the SUV is expected to start later this year and you can be sure that there will be a lot of people who will carefully monitor its sales volume from the start. As far as timing goes, the Stelvio is coming in at the right time since demand for luxury crossovers and SUVs have never been higher than where it is today. That’s a rich and fertile market that the Stelvio is coming into so it’s not entirely unreasonable to think that Alfa Romeo will immediately sell more Stelvio units than the Giulia. How successful it is though will be the determining factor on whether Alfa Romeo goes forward with its planned SUV expansion.
A compact crossover and a large seven-seater SUV would give Alfa Romeo a rounded family of models that provides plenty of room for choices among would-be customers.
On the surface, the rationale for more SUVs appears to be a slam dunk for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned. If Alfa really wants to bring its name back to the spotlight, it might need to double down, or in this case, triple down, on the segment that’s bringing in more sales than any other market in the industry today. A compact crossover and a large seven-seater SUV would give Alfa Romeo a rounded family of models that provides plenty of room for choices among would-be customers.
A lot of things can be reduced to a matter of perspective as far as where Alfa Romeo is at this point. Sales of the Giulia can be approached with either glass-half-full or glass-half-empty rhetoric and neither of them would be wrong assessments. But the Stelvio is different because it’s an SUV. If it falls short of expectations in sales, Alfa Romeo is going to be in deep trouble. If it proves to be as good as advertised and that translates to impressive sales numbers, the Italian automaker will have the green light to go all-in on the market. I’m hoping for the latter scenario, because like everybody else, I want Alfa Romeo to succeed. The industry is much better if the company is a force to be reckoned with once again.
Read our full review on the Alfa Romeo Stelvio here.