Alfa Romeo’s Slow Sales Limited By “Sporty Image” Says Spokesman For Brand With Abysmal Quality Reputation

Alfa Romeo’s Slow Sales Limited By “Sporty Image” Says Spokesman For Brand With Abysmal Quality Reputation

Alfa Romeo plans to double its sales by focusing less on being an emotional brand and instead appealing to a more mainstream audience, the company’s UK boss said.

Damian Dally told journalists at Autocar that the marque’s current British buyers were predominantly middle-aged men seduced by the performance image of Alfa Romeo’s cars, and this narrow appeal was limiting its sales performance.

“This is the challenge for Alfa, as we’re seen as a sporty brand,” said Dally, who thinks cars like the Tonale SUV, the company’s first hybrid, and its upcoming Brenero little brother, which will give Alfa its first EV, will help broaden its appeal to bring in more women and families. Hurt by the loss of the Giulietta hatch, Alfa sold just 25,964 vehicles globally in 2021, and only 18,250 in the U.S.

“I think we need to spread the Alfa story to a wider audience while still being pure to what we do,” Dally told Autocar.

Related: Will Dodge’s Move To Rebadge The Tonale Hurt Alfa Romeo’s Image In America?

Does that mean Alfa is turning its back on its sporty image altogether and planning a bunch of boring cars? Not necessarily, says the UK boss, who claimed the company still had faith in the traditional four-door sports sedan format that helped make Alfas popular in the second half of the 20th century, and is still alive and kicking on the current Giulia.

“The market may be moving away from saloon cars, but we still believe in them,” he said.

Specifically not referenced by Dally is Alfa’s reputation for unreliability and terrible dealer service, something that must surely be holding it back in the UK just as it is in the U.S., despite UK cars coming with a solid five-year warranty, one year longer than the cover offered in America.

Although Alfa scored well overall in Auto Express’s 2020 Driver Satisfaction survey of UK owners, when you take away the subjective rating and look purely at the number of cars that experienced a fault, almost 29 out of 100 Alfas had problems (only MG and Land Rover fared worse), compared with only 8 percent of Minis.

Meanwhile, America’s 2022 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey scored Alfa Romeo well below average, 26 places behind pole-sitter Buick, and one place behind Jaguar, though interestingly, Audi, Volkswagen and Volvo were even further down the list. But J.D. Power’s Customer Service Index study placed Alfa bottom of the premium brands, a damning indictment of the state of Alfa’s North American dealer network.

None of which is news to Alfa’s CEO, Jean-Philippe Imparato, who has instigated a range of measures to improve vehicle quality, while the U.S. dealer network has been overhauled, getting rid of some dead wood and polishing up what’s left. Is Alfa’s narrow product portfolio and “emotional” image stopping you buying one of the company’s cars? Leave a comment and let us know.

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