Among the automotive brands that trend toward technology, Alfa Romeo is pretty low in the rankings. Driver satisfaction and vehicular aesthetics traditionally characterize Alfa models more than the latest and greatest safety or convenience features.
That may soon change, though, as Autocar is reporting that the new Giulia sedan will receive an autonomous driving system, as noted by Alfa and Maserati head Harold Wester. The autopilot system will be modeled after the functionality of Tesla’s functionality in the Model S, Model X, and soon Model 3. Wester was quick to point out that we shouldn’t expect fully autonomous equipment in FCA products until at least 2024.
Not to shy from the Alfa Romeo brand’s main focus, Wester said self-driving technology would actually lead to a refocusing on driver’s cars, not an outright replacement of them.
“I am absolutely convinced that once fully autonomous vehicles are established, the more people will appreciate driving on a road free of traffic and enjoy driving their car again,” said Wester. “Then it will be as important as ever to produce a car which elicits a huge amount of driving emotions.”
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Wester went on to defend FCA’s actions to produce a self-driving model. “We all know the situation … You go to work in the morning and very quickly you find yourself in a sequence of stopping and starting, and it is a real waste of time and energy. In the future we will start to give you that time back so you can spend it better.”
While this might sound heinous to purists, Wester makes a strong case for self-driving technology. Whether it’s two separate vehicles — one for commuter, and one for driving pleasure — or one vehicle with dual characteristics, autonomous technology has the potential to make people appreciate driving more, especially when they don’t associate it with traffic.
In terms of the Giulia, Alfa Romeo put $1 billion into the platform’s development, a move that Wester says is a “make or break” opportunity to test semi-autonomous technology.
“We are going to spend many more billions to develop the rest. And obviously the credibility of the program depends very much on this car, the architecture, and its commercial success,” added Wester.