An Alfa Romeo renaissance: Italian brand to have 8 innovative models by 2018

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C

Today marked big news for the Chrysler Fiat (FCA) family, as CEO/dictator Sergio Marchionne announced the future of the brands.

The biggest news to American audiences was the retooling of the Dodge brand into what it should have been all a long, but lost in the shuffle is something that might actually be more interesting. The fate of the Alfa Romeo brand.

Alfa, one of motoring’s proudest, if least reputable brands, has been suffering neglected in the corner for more than 20 years. Marchionne says that is about to change, and he is prepared to spend $7,000,000,000 to see it happen.

Alfa chief Harald Wester (he comes from the German part of Italy) says that the makeover will mark a return to Alfa’s five core values: Advanced, innovative engines; perfect 50-50 weight distribution; a set of unique technical solutions; class exclusive power-to-weight ratios; and groundbreaking and distinctive Italian design.

The four year plan to make this happen (see it’s not a “five year plan” so you can’t call them Stalinists) will take Alfa from its current three car lineup to a full range of eight cars designed to enter the luxury segment fray, and take on the Germans. Crazy, right?

Crazy or not, FCA has a bold plan for Fiat. Beginning with the introduction of the 4C this year, Alfa will completely make over its lineup by 2016. The current MiTo and Giulietta, sold overseas, will be axed by 2015 and replaced with the midsize Giulia.

Over the following two years things will get really busy as Alfa plans to introduce two compacts, a midsize model, a full size luxury sedan, crossovers, and a specialty sports car; likely based on the same platform as the once-and -future Dodge Viper.

Though no officially confirmed details are forthcoming, it isn’t hard to guess that the large sedan will likely be a rebadged retuned Maserati Ghibli, and that the smaller Alfas will be going up against the likes of the Mercedes CLA, Audi A3 and BMW 2 Series. In fact Alfa Romeo will be directly aping the Germans with the introduction of clover leaf branded “Quadrifoglio” performance editions in the mold of AMG or M Sport.  

Oddly missing in all of this is the much anticipated Alfa Spyder which was to share a platform with the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. This doesn’t mean the car won’t be made, but that the convertible sports car will likely wind up under another FCA brand.

So what to make of all of this? On the one hand I am hopeful. Alfa has made some of the most beautiful and interesting cars that ever graced a showroom. But it has been a very long time since its offerings have been even close to competitive with the products coming out of Germany.

Spending seven billion is a good way to start making up that difference, but the problem is that Mercedes routinely finds that much money in its couch cushions. The automotive world is littered with the corpses of people and cars that have tried to take on the German luxury oligarchy. Even relative success stories like Cadillac still make up only around ten percent of market share.

In the end, Alfa may or may not succeed in approaching Teutonic levels of quality and success, but there is a silver lining in it for the rest of us.

Not only will be potentially get to enjoy Alfa’s renaissance we will get to enjoy the spillover from all of that spending into other FCA products, which might mean a resurgence for some American icons like the Viper. And that is good news no matter how you look at it. 


Can electric motors finally make three-wheeled cars great?

Every few years, someone tries to sell a three-wheeled vehicle to Americans. Historically, it hasn’t gone very well. We’ve got our suspicions about why people don’t buy trikes, and they boil down to this: a trike is just not a real…

Sibling rivalry: 2019 BMW Z4 takes on the 2020 Toyota Supra

BMW and Toyota forged an unlikely partnership when they set out to build a sports car platform together. Here, we examine the similarities and differences between the 2019 Z4 and the 2020 Supra.

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will appear later this year, Karma said, without offering other details.

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.

Driving Daimler’s 40-ton eCascadia big rig isn’t just fun, it’s electrifying

Daimler Trucks brought its all-electric eCascadia semi-truck to the 2019 CES, and invited us to take the wheel. What does it feel like to drive one? Simply electrifying, of course.

Tesla cuts workforce by 7 percent, ends referral program to trim costs

Tesla has announced plans to trim its workforce by seven percent, and it will end the referral program that rewards customers who help it sell cars. These measures are ways to cut costs and boost profits.

Lyft and Aptiv’s self-driving car program has come a long way (but not far enough)

Many companies talk about self-driving cars, but Lyft and Aptiv are already using a fleet of them to transport paying customers in Las Vegas. Hop in for a close look at the tech of autonomous cars, and the challenges they face.

Worried about commuting in winter weather? Nissan has the answer

The Nissan Altima midsize sedan is now available with all-wheel drive. To advertise that fact, Nissan's Canadian division slapped some tank-like tracks on an Altima to create a one-off show car.
Emerging Tech

Too buzzed to drive? Don’t worry — this autonomous car-bar will drive to you

It might just be the best or worst idea that we've ever heard: A self-driving robot bartender you can summon with an app, which promises to mix you the perfect drink wherever you happen to be.

Michigan OKs digital license plates with Rplate’s connected car platform

The state of Michigan approved the use of digital license plates on motor vehicles registered in the state. Reviver Auto, the manufacturer of the Rplate connected car platform, worked with Michigan's Department of State to pass the bill.

This Chevy Silverado pickup truck is made from more than 300,000 Lego bricks

To promote The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Lego and Chevrolet teamed up on a life-size replica of the automaker's Silverado pickup truck made from more than 300,000 plastic bricks.

Prices for using Tesla Supercharging just skyrocketed

Tesla is updating their Supercharging pricing based on local electricity rates and customer demand, which has lead to an increase in charging costs by as much as 33 percent in some regions.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Is Uber planning to put its self-driving tech into bikes and scooters?

Uber reportedly has its eye on building autonomous electric bikes and scooters that ride to a user when summoned by an app. The technology could also be used to make its two-wheelers safer with obstacle avoidance systems.