In a universe where Volkswagen owns Alfa Romeo, the brand might not be in such a bad positionby Robert Moore, on
Alfa Romeo, as a brand has been dying for years, and it seems that no matter what happens, things just keep getting worse. The move from bad to worse seems to have started right around the time that the revival of both the 8C and GTV nameplates was cancelled, right around the same time that FCA – before the Stellantis merger, of course – started skinning it to the bone as the 4C Spider landed on the chopping block. By 2020, the Giulietta was discontinued and we were promised a new compact electric SUV in 2020. Now, under new leadership, Alfa Romeo is discontinuing the Giorgio platform, and more recently announced a plan that included delaying models like the Tonale and raising prices – a weird move for a company that can’t sell vehicles to save its life. Things could have been a lot different if FCA sold Alfa to Volkswagen. In fact, the opportunity was there twice in the same decade.
Volkswagen Had a HUGE Plan for Alfa Romeo in 2011
You know Alfa Romeo’s story today. It’s struggling to keep the lights on, and things don’t seem to be getting any better. But, back in 2011, Ferdinand Piëch, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen Group from 2002-2015 used the Geneva Motor Show as a platform to explain just what VW could do for the Volkswagen brand.
According to him at the time, Alfa Romeo would have seen its sale quadruple to 400,000 cars within five years.
It was quite the bold move, but the story doesn’t stop there. A couple of weeks later, Volkswagen made the claim that under its ownership, Alfa Romeo would receive Porsche engines, with the frontrunner being the new turbo flat-four that was eventually revaled in the 2016 718 Boxster and Cayman. At this time, a spokesperson for the company told Autocar “We shut the door in their [VW’s] faces, and now they are trying to get into the window.”
Looking back, however, had Volkswagen really been able to live up to quadrupling Alfa’s sales, it would have been a very good move. Assuming VW was successful, Alfa would have been able to sell some 400,000 cars in 2016. In 2018, under the FCA brand, it managed to move just 122,533 cars globally. Needless to say, VW’s methods might have worked better. Interestingly enough, the story doesn’t end here because Alfa Romeo had another chance at a better life just as recent as 2018.
2018 Could Have Brought A Huge Shift in Fate for Alfa Romeo
A new report from Autocar has exposed the truth behind a second offer for Volkswagen to snatch up the then very troubled Alfa Romeo brand. According to the outlet, VW’s big boss, Herbert Diess, tried to do what Piëch couldn’t – convince FCA to sell Alfa Romeo to Volkswagen. See, it was Piëch’s long-standing dream to see Alfa Romeo under VW’s ownership, so Diess apparently sat down to chat with FCA’s then-CEO Mike Manley. As the story goes, Manley wasn’t interested in offloading Alfa at any cost, but Diess “considered it his duty to follow through on Piëch’s request,” so he did the best he could.
Alfa Could Have Been In A Completely Different Place
Today, Alfa Romeo is still struggling, with its newest model, the Tonale, delayed and new CEO, Jean-Phillippe Imparato thinking that Alfa’s are just as good as cars built by Mercedes, BMW, and Audi, so the secret to saving the company is to raise prices. Of course, one could argue that a failing company raising prices is the wrong move, but hey, perhaps there’s something we don’t know. According to Alfa’s current owner, Stellantis, Alfa Romeo along with all its new sister companies will be the subject of investments over the next 10 years. Essentially, this shoots down any hope that any brands under Stellantis will go up for sale anytime soon.
With that said, imagine what the Alfa Romeo brand is like in another universe. Under VAG ownership, perhaps Alfa Romeo’s cars would truly be as premium as Imparato thinks they are. Perhaps, Alfa Romeo would benefit from a lot of Porsche powertrain advancements and even technology. Perhaps, it would have become the poor man’s Porsche, but even if that was the case, something tells me that it would be in a much better position than it is right this moment.