Alfa Romeos May Soon Be Singing “Born in the USA”
- Alfa CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato says a North American plant would be an important asset for global growth, and he sees the larger E-segment as a logical step for Alfa Romeo, especially in the US.
- Alfa Romeo is preparing to launch a B-segment crossover in 2024, offered as a battery-electric model and also as a mild hybrid with an internal-combustion engine. Another new BEV will launch in 2025, followed by another in 2026.
- He says the next Giulia, to be developed jointly by teams in Italy and North America and built in Cassino, Italy, will “be absolutely fantastic” and will offer 1000 hp as a BEV only, with no internal-combustion variant.
As Alfa Romeo prepares to launch its Tonale premium crossover in the US, the brand’s chief executive has set his sights on an ambitious strategy to open the first North American vehicle assembly plant for the 113-year-old brand.
Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato discloses the plan to North American journalists visiting Milan to drive the new Tonale, which slots in below the Stelvio crossover and will compete against the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Volvo XC40, and others in the popular small luxury crossover segment.
Imparato says a North American plant would be an important asset for Alfa Romeo’s global growth, beyond its two current Italian plants in Cassino (Giulia and Stelvio) and Pomigliano d’Arco (Tonale), and he sees the larger E-segment as a logical step for Alfa Romeo, especially in the US.
He doesn’t specify whether this all-electric E-segment vehicle would be a car or crossover—or whether a crossover might offer three rows of seating—but the Italian brand wants to compete more directly with the BMW X5 and perhaps the coupe-like X6, both of which are assembled at BMW’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for export worldwide.
“It could be a fantastic coupe, too,” Imparato says of the coming E-segment EV, potentially arriving in 2027 and riding on parent company Stellantis’ STLA platform for larger vehicles. He says the shape of this new vehicle will be decided by the end of this year.
“The first market in the world for E-segment is your market—the US. The second is China,” says Imparato, who sees significant growth potential for premium E-segment vehicles in Europe as well.
“If I want to be the global premium brand for Stellantis, I must be everywhere in the world in terms of sales,” Imparato says. “I must be at the top level in terms of satisfaction, in terms of customer satisfaction and customer experience. And I must plan for success for the future. That’s what we need.”
Where exactly Alfa Romeo would assemble vehicles in North America remains uncertain, but Imparato says he hopes it will be in the US.
Larry Dominique, senior vice president and head of Alfa Romeo and Fiat North America, says it would not be a greenfield plant in the US. He also noted the recent idling of the Stellantis assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois, perhaps hinting the facility could have new life building Alfa Romeos.
More immediately, Alfa is preparing to launch a B-segment crossover in 2024, offered as a battery-electric model and also as a mild hybrid with an internal-combustion engine. Imparato describes the vehicle as “a Mini Countryman killer, a perfect urban EV,” and says it’s Dominique’s decision whether to bring this vehicle to North America.
Another new BEV will launch in 2025, followed by another in 2026. By 2027, Alfa Romeo will sell only BEVs globally, which means the current Giulia sedan and Stelvio crossover would no longer offer internal-combustion powertrains. Because the new Tonale will be offered only as a plug-in hybrid in the US, Imparato says that model will reduce Alfa’s worldwide carbon-dioxide emissions as a brand by 40%. But the ultimate goal is zero emissions across the portfolio.
“I will go electric in Israel. I will go electric in Turkey. And they have the means to absorb the electric proposal in Turkey,” Imparato says. “I will be electric in Japan, in China, in the Middle East.”
And the product strategy is not focused solely on utilitarian crossovers but also on sleek sedans and coupes that have been core to Alfa Romeo’s existence.
Imparato says aerodynamics are crucial for extending the range of BEVs, and the taller profile of a crossover certainly hinders smooth airflow.
“So for me, electrification means the sedan is back. You will have an all-electric Giulia,” he promises. “In the coming weeks we will freeze the Giulia’s next-generation design… I will bring a sedan (EV) on the market and probably not only one.”
He says the next Giulia, to be developed jointly by teams in Italy and North America and built in Cassino, Italy, will “be absolutely fantastic” and will offer 1000 hp as a BEV only, with no internal-combustion variant.
As for the small luxury crossover segment, Alfa executives want the new Tonale to dig into the market share of the No.1 player, the Volvo XC40, which reached more than 6000 sales in the US in the first quarter of 2023, followed by the Mercedes GLA (4000 sales), Audi Q3 (3800), Lexus UX (3200), BMW X1 (3200), and Land Rover Evoque (1100).
Sales in the entire segment were up 8.2%, while SUVs were up only 4% and midsize luxury crossovers were up a whopping 15%, according to Wards Intelligence data.
Is Alfa Romeo arriving too late to the premium EV segment, or is there room for an iconic, reinvented Italian brand? Please comment below.