A relaunch of considerable pomp and circumstance took place on June 24, 2015, when the late Sergio Marchionne organized a big event to finally unveil the production version of the long-awaited Alfa Romeo Giulia. Accompanied by the exceptional vocals of Andrea Bocelli, FCA not only presented a completely new model, but also made known to the world its plans to reboot Alfa Romeo.
Created in two years "by the company's best engineers, designers, and stylists," the Giulia was supposed to be the first of eight new models planned over the next three years. It was the opening salvo in an investment of 5 billion euros aimed at the relaunching of Alfa. And then the only other notable vehicle after the Giulia was the Stelvio in 2017.
Since its introduction in the first half of 2016, the Alfa Romeo Giulia has sold around 160,000 units mainly in Europe, North America, and some countries in Asia and the Middle East. Even if it never achieved its ambitious goals, the Biscione sedan proved to be a highly competitive product. But it was more than that.
It also contributed to opening more doors in the North American automotive market, which has been in Alfa's sights for years as part of a global expansion plan. The fact that a sedan was being launched just as demand was waning is another matter.
The questions that many people ask are: will there be a Giulia replacement and how quickly will Alfa Romeo continue to expand its range? As demand for sedans continues to decline (except in China) it's hard to imagine a new Giulia maintaining the current style.
Last year, 1.2 million premium D-segment sedans were sold worldwide, a decrease of 2 percent. Volumes increased by 5 percent in China, where they accounted for 43 percent of the global total. In the US and Canada it was up by 1 percent, and it fell by 25 percent in Europe, the world's third-largest market.
It seems that the brand is focusing on the SUV/crossover line. After the introduction of the Tonale in the second half of 2022, the company will present a smaller SUV to counter the likes of the Mini Countryman, Volkswagen T-Roc, etc. SUVs of this size can benefit sales: the Tonale accounted for 67 percent of the brand's new registrations in Europe between January and May this year, according to the latest data released by JATO Dynamics.
The Lessons Learned
The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a fantastic product. When it was presented, it featured cutting-edge engines and a modern platform. The design was and still is very eye-catching, and respects the brand identity without exaggeration. Over the years, the reviews from the press have been quite good, and in general, it is a sedan capable of competing with four-door competitors from Germany.
The timid commercial results must therefore be seen as something of an initial test that any brand competing in premium segments must face, trusting that the brand has understood the dynamics of customers and their changing preferences. Having said that, we can assume that Giulia will survive, though it may adopt another format going forward.
The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is an Automotive Industry Specialist at JATO Dynamics.