Critics closely eyeing sales reports have made much of the fact that the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s early sales figures are way behind those of key German rivals like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. But Reid Bigland, global head of Alfa Romeo, says that’s only to be expected from a newly returning brand selling a new product.
“I’m not going to sell 4,000 Giulias a month,” he said. “It’s just too early.”
So far in 2017, the Giulia has sold 2,482 units in the U.S.
However, Bigland said the Italian brand isn’t overly concerned with monthly sales because it's still a newcomer to the market.
“I’ll be the first one to say it. At Alfa Romeo, we’re really not out to win any sales crowns,” he said. “We’re out to re-establish a legendary brand around the world, and we’re looking at a number of indicators to gauge our success and gauge our progress.”
Those include online search traffic and interest, lease rates, and residual-value awards. In terms of leasing, only 42 percent of Giulia sales are leases, whereas Bigland said that the segment in general averages a 69-percent lease penetration. And he said early data from ALG shows that the Giulia will have a higher three-year residual value than a 3 Series or a C-Class.
“We feel we’re at a pretty good place right now, not only in North America but also around the world,” Bigland said.
He also notes that in May, the Giulia outsold the Jaguar XE, another newcomer in the premium-sedan segment.
Speaking more broadly, Bigland said that response from customers and fans to the reintroduction of Alfa Romeo to the U.S. is starting to resonate with potential buyers in a big way.
“Interest in the brand has really exceeded my expectations,” he said. “It’s absolutely phenomenal just how much people are interested in the return of Alfa Romeo to North America.”
The bigger challenge for Alfa to continue to grow sales, though, will be to grow the brand’s dealer network. Currently Alfa Romeo has 168 showrooms in the U.S., and 184 in the U.S. and Canada, of which 57 are combined Maserati-Alfa Romeo dealers. By the end of this year, Alfa hopes to grow that number to a total of 215 dealerships.