Survivial. One word, a word that will be seen linked to a few carmakers over the next decade as they try to survive in a fast paced automotive world. With the rise of the electric car, not to mention the possibility of hydrogen in the future, these are testing times for the industry, to not just stay ahead of the rest but in many cases catch up.
Alfa Romeo for all it’s glorious past and despite having in my humble opinion the best cars in it’s class currently (the Giulia matches and betters the BMW 3 series in most cases), the companies Stelvio is a superb SUV, better than the Jaguar, Audi & Co versions. However despite this, sales figures remain low and Alfa Romeo must be scratching their heads wondering what to do. The forthcoming Tonale will bring another model to the line up, taking on the likes of the BMW X1 & Audi Q3, another SUV but despite these being seen as ‘cash cows’ by the industry, an SUV isn’t the answer to Alfa Romeo’s problems.
Many will point at parent company FCA’s mis-managemet of the brand over the recent years, indeed it could be easy to do so, whilst others will also say the forthcoming merger with PSA might be the answer, bringing with it a cash injection for Alfa Romeo.
However what I think the brand needs is a new hatchback, the stepping stone onto the brand, that entry level car (even Ferrari has an entry level car with the Roma!). As good as the Giulia & Stelvio are, to get into they are not cheap, you’re talking middle management kind of salary to get one, be it on lease or finance. By which stage many people who like to drive a nice car have already bought into those familiar German brands, be it BMW, Mercedes or Audi. All of these carmakers provide that entry level car to entice buyers into the brand, the 1 series, A Class and A3, none of which are particularly great, the 1 series is rather brash, the A3 is so boring is should come with beige trousers to wear as standard, the pick of the bunch is probably the A-Class, but it hardly sets your pants on fire wanting to drive one.
But these brands, and a few others, do offer these entry level cars, which means by the time it’s buyers are moving up that car ladder earning 3 series, C Class salaries, they have already bought into and committed to the brand, few of these buyers will go looking elsewhere, despite the likes of the Giulia being available.
The current outgoing Giulietta is still a good looking hatchback, but never quite carried the prestigious badge of it’s German counterparts, an old platform didn’t help, never the less it was a good car, I still run one, 9 years old with over 120k on the clock and hasn’t missed a beat, it’s been a solid family work horse.
FCA needs to drop it’s Tipo, let Fiat do what it does best, build funky cool small cars and give Alfa a quick cash injection to sort a new entry line model, a new Giulietta, get those customers in who are just starting out on their career ladder with their disposable incomes to buy into the brand sooner with an exciting, prestigious, stylish hatchback before they have gone elsewhere!
Despite the changes ahead for the industry, a simple move like this would help Alfa Romeo to grow it’s customer base and loyalty, which in turn would help secure it’s future for a brand we all love.