And other sales news too. Alfa are trying hard to fill the shop window. There are still three models on sale, if you’re interested. Read on to see what they thought they’d be selling by now.
Not so many hours after I made up a slogan for Alfa “We’re still in business! 25% off a 2014 Giulia for an unlimited period” it turns out this is not far from the truth. This Alfa UK home page (above) is full of activity but not so full of cars, pretty much as it was when I posted this item.
If we take a look at the diagram for Alfa’s plans we see that two years ago the 159-replacement was due along with an SUV. And a Spider was due last year. There is no suggestion that there will be a 166-size car at any stage. So, we can say that it took a three decade fight, starting with the Alfa 6 in 1979 for Alfa to conclude a large car was never going to work out. And that there really is very little in the pipeline. Perhaps some of those Chryslers badged as Lancias can have Alfa Romeo badges applied instead.
While I am writing, the BBC posted a report that European Union car sales are still growing, with VW doing quite well. But the very same day Automotive News reports that Ford’s number one seller, the Fiesta is attracting less business. As a result the Cologne plant will be idled for 11 days in October and November. This is due to a slowdown in sales in some key regions for the Fiesta: Germany, France and Italy. On the plus side, Ford sales overall have improved by 15% in August.
And while the BBC puts a nice gloss on the recovery, Automotive News does not: sales are increasing but the rate of increase is slowing. “Peter Fuss, automotive expert at Ernst & Young, said it had been the second worst August in the past 12 years for car sales in the EU. “The tentative recovery in the European auto market seems to be running out of breath”.
The article goes on to distinguish between an increase in sales and increase in price levels. You can sell a car but not make so much money on it. Analysts don’t reckon on sales getting back to 2007 levels any time soon; 2020 they suggest. That leaves plenty of time for another crisis or two. The European seller’s market is dead, that’s for sure.
Does this slowing of sales imply something more unsettling is taking place in the European economy? A car is something you buy when you feel confident and have money. Why might it be that Europeans are lacking in one, other or both of these? The sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US started with a dramatic drop in plastic surgery business. In a similar way, does the slowing of car sales presage something worse?
12 thoughts on “Alfa’s Latest Offers: No Deposit Over Five Years, Have Another £750.”
There appears to be more than a few mixed messages emanating from FCA about Alfa’s planned new range. Autocar (28 August) reported the first sighting of a development mule for project 952, which they say will be a 3-Series rival. Meanwhile Automotive News’ Luca Ciferri (Sept 1) tells it differently, claiming this new model will rival the Audi A6 and will be partnered by a larger Audi A8 rival. No mention of a compact saloon at all, but suggestions of a Giulietta replacement.
Photos of the development mules show a car based on Maserati Ghibli underpinnings and outer panels, suggesting Ciferri has it right, but this makes a lie of FCA’s claim of a brand new platform.
What is abundantly clear is that Alfa’s cause would be far better served by a 3-Series rival than a larger car, both in Europe and in the US, but perhaps it is going to be another case of make do and mend. Given that the new model is due a reveal next year, it all should become a good deal clearer very soon.
As to the situation across Europe, the upward figures have been mostly incentive-driven. Behind this smokescreen, the European market remains essentially flat. There are exceptions – the Republic of Ireland is on a gentle upward swing, the UK remains exceptionally strong and although it has suffered a recent downturn, Germany remains reasonably healthy. Spain has gone down the scrappage route, and Italy continues on life-support. France is limping upwards but could easily fall back again. It would appear that little has really changed since the 2008 crash…
Let’s face it, the news out of FCA (now part-timing as the new financial regulator in the UK – hence the move of its head office to London) is disturbingly MGRover-a-like. We all hang on every word of every announcement in some kind of hope, but the hope never becomes reality and the “strategy” chops and changes every 18-12 months (at an every increasing rate of desparation) which means nothing is ever actually launched/ delivered. I give it 3 years maximum.
That seems about right. Curiously, Chrysler is doing quite well in the US. I think Marchionne is hoping that Chrysler will provide cash and a market. At the same time. the paltry rate at which new vehicles are being launched is a very bad sign, not unlike Rover´s dying days when plastic kit was added to some vehicles and others had their chrome sprayed black and were sold as MGs. I saw one of these recently and the paint is coming off. Things looked quite rosy around the time of the 156 and 147 but they blew it after that with the heavy 158; the 166 died unreplaced; the GTV and Spider disappointed and that´s it, isn´t it? The Mito seems the wrong car for Alfa and the GIualia is too heavy and over-worked. I still like the 147s a lot: that was a very nice bit of work.
You forgot the Brera. Nice looking car but again too heavy.
I quite like the Mito personally but you’re right in dubbing it the wrong car as it’s simply not good or special enough to have any positive impact on Alfa’s fortunes.
Just realised that for GTV and Spider you probably meant the Brera, in which case the one you missed is the GT. I seem to remember that got pretty good reviews at the time.
The GT deserved to sell better: inside and out it had special written all over it. The Spider, Brera and GT went out of production in 2010. The 159 was discontinued in 2011.
A Brera or 159 with RWD proportions would rank among the most desirable cars of the last cedace in my book – with the Brera concept being the last great Giugiaro design, full stop.
But the ’90s Alfas also still appeal, even though the ageing process does belie their humble components. Right at the beginning of the millennium, Alfa had every chance to “do an Audi” and ascend the automotive ladder, albeit with a 15 year delay. It wouldn’t have been 10% of the uphill struggle Marchionne’s current plans have to face today.
“The Last Cedace” – The new novel by Nicholas Sparks
That range that had 147, 156, 166, Spider and GTV in it was rather gorgeous. I loved the 147, but the 156 still rates as the best looking mid-range saloon ever in my books. I also like the later 159, and it still looks fresh today, but the 156 was just perfect. WdS at his very best – although I note he has said he feels the A5 (not the 5 door) is his favourite car?!
Sam the Eagle: please look in your work mail to see why your new article has disappeared. It will be back at 12.00 tomorrow!
many recent auto reports I have read have talked of the next 5 series rival which was the 166 size as being named alfetta with top of the range models having the twin turbo v6 500bhp+ maserati/alfa engine and presumably a front engine and rear transaxle like the previous 116 alfetta so I would say there will be a 166 replacement because it competed with the 5 series and for that there is an expected replacement. The 166 in my opinion was never a 7 series rival.
Oh and regarding alfa plans previously in recent years Fiat talked up the brand with grand plans but without the cash necessary to implement said plans. However with the success it has made of chrysler in the USA it has made sufficient funding to develop the talked of new range of cars at Alfa….separate from Fiat engineering under the new skunkworks headed by ex ferrari managers…..i remain optimistic this will produce interesting cars, the first of which is the 4C which is the first sports car at its price point to use a carbon fibre tub….though it still needs some development to make that car great.
Hi Minerva: thanks for stopping by. I would agree with you about the 166 as more of a 5-series rival than 7-series. The mystery was why more people didn´t go for it, especially in its later and very handsome form with the revised lights and deep grille. Inside and out it was a very characterful car and, in 2.0 litre guises, was nicely balanced. I look forward to seeing a replacement if that is indeed in the pipeline. These days the 5-series class is very much reduced as so many competitors have died: Opel Omega, Ford Granada/Scorpio, Lancia Thesis, Citroen C6, Chrysler 300 and so on, The choices are limited and rather samey now, though I admit the three remaining stars of this class are all very competent and thoroughly developed machines.
I hope the 166 replacement is not solely a wildly engined car. My beef with all these cars is their unhandy size and strangely overworked interiors.