Stellantis honcho Carlos Tavares proved adept in the round. GM lost money on its European Opel/Vauxhall unit for two decades before Tavares took the reins at Peugeot-Citroen (PSA) and bought GM’s European arm. Tavares restored Opel/Vauxhall’s profits within a year. Within 18 months of the “merger” of PSA and Fiat-Chrysler becoming official, we’re no longer hearing doomsday stories from some of the perennially troubled brands under the new umbrella. All the Italians – Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Fiat, Lancia, Maserati – say they’re doing well, Alfa Romeo is back on its feet, designing a range that’s more accessible and fun. Having established that Tavares has mastered the basics, we have yet to find out if he knows how to transform a brand, which is what every Italian automaker needs. At Alfa Romeo, the North Americans are at the forefront He told Automotive news that the foundations of a revolution are still being laid. This makes the brand look more like the premium automaker it has longed to be since its 2008 comeback.
Vincent Noirbent, Alfa Romeo’s vice president of product design and transformation on this continent, said the automaker is working on a 10-year plan to bring Stellantis under Maserati’s full luxury brand as a global premium brand. We don’t know how this will work with Lancia in Europe, but we don’t get Lancia, so any clash is out of our control. Autonews Noirbent’s message was: “Customer satisfaction and vehicle quality are arguably ‘more important’ to the brand than sales as it builds momentum in the US.” He also said it was more important to build a “proper business” built around the brand’s strengths. the brand and it’s not about incentives. A Miami dealer described Alfa Romeo’s North American boss Larry Dominque’s comments as saying “he wants to fix the cars first, [ownership] get better experiences and increase brand value so that someone pays an extra $100 a month.”
In an interview from Pebble Beach, Dominique said that luxury service experience and experiential marketing will also be involved. That includes “concierge service, pick-up and drop-off service for the test drive,” and when you visit a dealer, “it’s the kind of thing where you can not only look at beautiful cars, but also have Italian cooking lessons and wine tastings.”
All work takes time. Light updates for 2023 don’t hide the fact that the Giulia sedan is seven years old, the Stelvio SUV is six years old, and the more accessible Tonale isn’t here yet, which may explain why the brand’s sales in the U.S. are down. per year from roughly 18,300 average units for each of the past three years. Alfa Romeo climbed to 27th out of 33 brands in JD Powers 2022 initial quality survey, one place above its 2021 ranking. However, the automaker ranked first among premium brands in the 2022 JD Power Sales Satisfaction Index, a measure of customer satisfaction with the dealer experience, ahead of Porsche, Lexus, Cadillac and Infiniti. Noirbent said of the accolade: “Now that you’re in first place, there’s only one way [to go], so it is infinite. We need to make sure we do it again next year. We need to make sure we perfect our processes.”