They say any publicity is good publicity. It's true in the case of Alfa Romeo's new crossover. Company CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato says the website crashed following the controversy surrounding the initial name chosen for the firm's first EV: "We had an unprecedented number of visits to the online configurator, causing the website to crash for a couple hours."

The new Junior was supposed to be called Milano, but Italian authorities were not happy with the name. The smallest Alfa isn't going to be made in Milan but rather in Poland at the Tychy factory where sister models Jeep Avenger and Fiat 600 are built as well. The Ministry of Enterprises and Made in Italy criticized Alfa Romeo for choosing Milano for a product made nearly 800 miles away in a different country.

The opposition expressed by the Italian government came right after the Milano's unveiling on April 10. However, Alfa Romeo announced the model's name on December 13, 2023. It's unclear whether the automaker was notified internally about the problematic moniker during these four months. One would argue the company's legal team should've been aware of the potential negative ramifications of the chosen name. Reuters cites Italy's industry minister Adolfo Urso saying:

"A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is forbidden by Italian law. This law stipulates that you cannot give indications that mislead consumers. So a car called Milano must be produced in Italy. Otherwise, it gives a misleading indication which is not allowed under Italian law."

Alfa Romeo's boss begs to differ: "We decided to change the name, even though we know that we are not required to do so because we want to preserve the positive emotion that our products have always generated and avoid any type of controversy."

Since production of the new Milano hasn't started yet, Imparato said during a conference that the financial impact following the name change is minimal. He went on to mention only a few marketing materials will have to be updated to reflect the switch to Junior. Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares declared last week that the crossover would have cost nearly $11,000 more had it been made in Italy instead of Poland.

The name change is not without precedent. In 2009, Alfa Romeo originally intended to use Milano for the 147 replacement. However, that wasn't meant to be either as Giulietta was ultimately used instead. Automotive News reported back then that the decision to rename the car was taken at the last minute. Although embargoed assets had already been sent to media outlets with photos of the Milano-branded hatchback, magazines were asked not to publish them. Why? Due to "organization matters."

The reasoning provided by Alfa Romeo was rather vague. The issue didn't stem from something bureaucratic as is the case now but from a dispute between the Italian automaker and workers from that region. Parent company Fiat decided to relocate designers and engineers from Milan to Turin to "increase efficiency and save costs."

To avoid the ongoing rift from escalating even further, the Alfa Romeo Milano became the Giulietta when it was unveiled on December 5, 2009. The original plan was to show the Volkswagen Golf rival several days before, on November 30.

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