Alfa Romeo's new product strategy

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) recently unveiled a new product strategy for its Alfa Romeo brand, as outlined in the slide below:

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The slide makes clear that Alfa Romeo plans to launch 3 updated ('MCA', or 'Mid-Cycle Action') versions of existing models (Giulietta, Giulia, and Stelvio) along with 4 completely new models ('C UV', 'E UV', GTV and 8C). If we take the (admittedly unrealistic) assumption that the product lineup of competing brands will remain the same as today, how does Alfa Romeo compare?

This table should be treated as a guide only, rather than a holistic appraisal of market segments in the industry that are set in stone. Certain vehicles, such as the Range Rover Velar, straddle segments and are difficult to classify. Infiniti has not been included as it is popular only regionally (North American market), whilst Genesis is an emerging brand that is still in the process of rolling out a full product range. Ultimately, the focus should be on developing great cars rather than filling market segments just for the sake of having a complete vehicle range.

The table above demonstrates that were Alfa Romeo to produce the vehicles outlined in their 2022 strategy, they would merely be matching the product lineup of competitors today. Alfa Romeo's European competitors, along with Tesla, already have several plug-in hybrid options available. With several of these manufacturers planning to introduce more battery electric vehicles in the near future (such as BMW's iX3 and an electric Volvo XC40), Alfa Romeo should also ideally target producing a battery electric vehicle by 2022.

Electric vehicles and brand DNA

Alfa Romeo describes its brand DNA as follows:

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It's important to dispel the notion that battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are incompatible with Alfa Romeo's brand DNA, or that they represent a necessary dilution of the brand to meet ever-tightening emissions regulations. In fact, the opposite is true. Electric motors and plug-in hybrid technology represent the most advanced powertrain technology available today. The 'skateboard' vehicle chassis (commonly used in battery electric vehicles), with a long, flat rectangular battery, sandwiched at the bottom of the vehicle, offers better opportunities for a 50/50 weight distribution than a bulky combustion engine positioned at the front or rear of the car. Likewise, the packaging opportunities offered by such a chassis enable greater stylistic freedom for designers. Although battery electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model S weigh more than their combustion engine counterparts, forthcoming advances in battery technology, such as solid-state batteries, with higher energy densities, promise to reduce this disparity. Thus, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicle technology especially, can act as an enhancement, rather than a dilution, of Alfa Romeo's brand DNA.

  Above: The skateboard chassis used by Jaguar's i-Pace. Such a chassis incorporates a flat, long and rectangular battery pack at the bottom of the vehicle to lower the centre of gravity and optimise packaging and interior space.

Above: The skateboard chassis used by Jaguar's i-Pace. Such a chassis incorporates a flat, long and rectangular battery pack at the bottom of the vehicle to lower the centre of gravity and optimise packaging and interior space.