No, Seriously, I Have A Plan: Alfa Romeo’s Question Marks Plotted Out In Detail

The news today is that after the launch of the new Giulia, Alfa Romeo promises, no really promises – and they mean it this time – to launch a new model every six months.

2016 FCA Product Plan: image from Automotive News
2016 FCA Product Plan: image from Automotive News

The table above holds a lot of question marks as soon as it reaches the dim future time known as 2018. The following year’s plan is hard to read because there is a car pasted into the image. Fiat’s plans are rather flimsy. In 2016 and 2017 Fiat dealers will have ‘refreshed’ versions of the 500 and 500L. Did you know that by 2016 the 500 will have been on sale since the death of William Gladstone. It is older than the hills.

You can take a look at an old product plan here to see that since 2014 the new Spider and new D-class SUV were supposed to have been on sale. What value this new product plan?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

8 thoughts on “No, Seriously, I Have A Plan: Alfa Romeo’s Question Marks Plotted Out In Detail”

  1. I think that a consortium of magazine publishers should buy FCA, with the company’s business plans decided by editorial committee. Summer 2016 – Alfa Romeo Returns! issues in all performance driving titles; Lancia retrospective in classic car titles; Dodge customisation in aftermarket tuning titles; Chrysler 300 facelift in business titles; Jeep Wrangler replacement in travel and outdoors titles. Fall 2016 – New Ferrari… But is it good enough? Winter 2016/17: Jeep & snowsports tie-in across extreme sports media platforms; Spring 2017: New Fiat crossover in wedding and parenting titles; Lancia supermini tie-in with Fashion Week; What’s Sergio’s next move? In business and industry titles and on it goes.

  2. I am surprised that journalists have not taken to hooting with derision at each new press conference. Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo customers have the broken countenance of a battered spouse.

  3. According to this revised schedule, the Giulia is scheduled to launch during the latter half of 2016 – a full 12-months after being revealed. And this is merely the Cloverleaf model – one assumes the mainstream models will be later still. I fear that unless the fragrant Ms. Barra capitulates to Sergio’s increasingly creepy advances, any chance of a credibile Alfa Romeo Renaissance will remain an increasingly implausible thought experiment.

    How about this for an unthinkable future? Mary gets a restraining order and barricades herself into her ivory tower. Sergio overplays his hand and any putative deal falls through. Alfa is curtains and in desperation, FCA restyles the Giulia as an entry level Maserati in a desperate attempt to both amortise the platform and salvage Maserati’s falling volumes. Within five years, Maserati becomes FCA’s volume ‘premium’ brand. Most of its output is diesel-powered.

    Alfa Romeo is quietly buried in an unmarked grave alongside the mummified corpse of Lancia.

  4. You can find the current Fiat plan (including successors to the Bravo and Punto due next year) here, you will see what you discuss is the USA-only planning (do check slide 70): http://www.fcagroup.com/investorday/PresentationList/fiat_Brand.pdf. I live in Turin and judging by the prototypes driving around here the plan is on shedule. The 500 will soldier on for another couple of years, why not? It is printing money for Fiat and its design is quite timeless (remember the original Twingo?).

    The Alfa-Romeo plan can be found here: http://www.fcagroup.com/investorday/PresentationList/alfa_Brand.pdf. It is less precise than the Fiat plan, but again: the products seem to be on shedule and deliver to the promises that were made.

    I also don’t understand your earlier critism to the launch of the Giulia QV. It makes perfect sense to launch the QV first. Volvo did the same thing with the new XC90, start with the top of the line model to clearly make a statement (the Giulia QV is supposed to be better than the BMW M3, the Nürburgring lap time seems to confirm this). In the mean time, ramp up to production is simplified. I imagine: the first weeks only one version (one powertrain, one trim level) on the production line This has some advantages I think, certainly with a car that is all-new.

    Another thing; since last week we know that the platform that Alfa developed for the Giulia will be utilised for Chrysler/Dodge products also (adding volume, reducing the risk if the Alfa plan goes wrong).

    Sincerely, I find the criticism about the plans being unclear beyond 2018 quite stupid. It takes about 3 years to develop a car, so probably decisions are still being made about precise timing for the models that are concerned (anyway, what companies do communicate about plans more than 3 years in advance?). Marchionne said this week that it is still possible to abort some Alfa plans, which makes perefect business sense. Imagine that if the Giulia doesn’t perform on the market th first year, the future larger sedan will be cancelled.

    It is a shame there is so little trust in Marchionne since he certainly has achieved some things no-one believed possible:
    (1) save Fiat in 2003-2004 and get money from GM
    (2) survive the 2008-2014 crisis – actually thanks to the fact that Marchionne cancelled all new products (like the Alfa SUV you refer to). The most important market for Fiat, the Italian market, collapsed completely during the crisis and is only starting to recover now.
    Any new model during the crisis would have been a disastrous waste of the scarse money that Fiat has. Hmm… The Italian market is recovering now and … surprise … the new models are arriving (Renegade, 500X, Alfa Giulia and SUV next year).
    Also: no factories closed (except for the one on Sicily, because that location made no business sense)
    (3) catch Chrysler and actually make money with it. I remember the Cerberus times.

    (4) Is it really impossible to sell more than 250 000 Alfa’s in a couple of years, knowing that they still manage to sell 60000/year with two main products (out of which one, the Mito, is really quite terrible) and presence only in EU. With the Giulia and SUV (if they are good products) and the added presence in US and China, sales should at least double or triple if possible.

    One thing I agree on: a merger with GM would be a disaster. Because I believe that GM is still a bureaucratic nightmare.

  5. Your Reader From Torino : Welcome and many thanks for your considered comment. We have a long history of Marchionne-bashing on this site and, of course, it can’t all be justified. He’s obviously no fool and many of the business decisions he’s made will have been sensible. But he seems to have a blind-spot in that all-important area, product.

    The 500 has been a huge success which seems to be leading Fiat to creating a group of cars of varying sizes and aesthetic appeal and calling them 500. That is marketing at its most crass. As they show in their manifesto, Fiat has a long tradition of leading the way, but there is no sign of them doing this in their current planning. Apart from becoming a stand-alone brand, as DS has for Citroen, there is only so much mileage you can get from 500. It’s a fashion item, and people are fickle for fashion.

    As for the Giulia, I strongly disagree that the aggressive, boy-racer QV is the best way to launch the car. For the people who find that car impressive, the lesser versions will be a disappointment, for those of us who might like to see a more subtle car, in the vein of past Alfas, the QV is most certainly not it.

    I wish it were not so, but the feeling I get is that Fiat lacks confidence in itself and that Marchionne’s ever changing plans and ambiguous utterances do not help that situation. I fully realise that, as enthusiasts, we here have somewhat different ambitions from Sergio. He wants to see a company that carries on doing whatever it has to do to turn a profit and provide employment. We want to see a company that makes interesting cars that you’d want to own for more reasons than price or fashion. Unfortunately these two ambitions probably don’t lead down the same path.

  6. Just to follow on from Sean’s comment, (and hello to your reader from Torino), I would point out that as well as throwing a few over-ripe vegetables Sergio’s way, we have on DTW given him, FCA and their plan a good deal of airtime and I would suggest, a degree of benefit of the doubt.
    In fact, if you read our previous posts on the subject, a sizeable amount of serious-minded analysis has been directed Marchionne-wards. I would also say there is (from my end at least) a lot of good-will for FCA and their attempts to right their leaky vessel.

    Having said that, it isn’t today or yesterday that Fiat got itself into this mess and Marchionne, for all his deft plate-spinning lacks credibility. This endless leakage of facts, figures and promises, endlessly chopped and changed according to whether the markets or Sandford P Bernstein like what they’re hearing, simply doesn’t present a picture of someone on top of their brief. That just isn’t my opinion either, it’s the view of analysts who actually get paid for this sort of thing.

    Our Turin-based reader points out the Fiat 500 is selling well and is of course quite correct. Both it and its Panda sibling are top sellers throughout Europe. Pity then they aren’t making FCA any money. Why? Because the European market recovery appears to be built entirely on massive incentives from both government and the manufacturers themselves. That’s before you consider the fact that margins on these small cars are tiny anyway. FCA are perilously under-represented in the Northern European mid-market where the Alfa Giulietta seems the sole representative – a thoroughly decent car, but one that has failed to deliver on the oft-quoted marque values of Marchionne and Wester. (For whatever that’s worth).

    I can understand anyone with a strong desire to see FCA succeed, because I’d like to see that too. But nothing I’ve seen from them over the past five years gives me cause for optimism. I’m afriad the choices facing Marchionne are stark. Either shrink the business substantially and go high-end, or get even bigger. Catch 22 in other words.

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