• Jul 27th 2009 at 2:28PM
  • 67
Alfa Romeo MiTo - Click above for a high-res image gallery

Small cars have historically struggled in the land of the free, home of the brave. Typically regarded as an afterthought by Detroit, our current domestic crop (Focus, Aveo, Caliber) needs more fertilizer. Imported "penalty boxes" fair somewhat better, but for every Honda Fit there's a Daihatsu Charade. Long story short, profit margins are slim and Americans are big people with big families that drive big distances. However, BMW's new Mini made serious and surprising inroads by giving small car buyers lots of content and high style (and a high price tag). BMW's sold 1.5 million of them, and given the Mini's success, it seems like a no brainer that Alfa Romeo (maybe via Chrysler) would bring the sexy little MiTo to our shores. Italian styling, sporty handling and high MPGs seem like a winning combo. Sadly, no -- maybe.

According to Alfa Romeo CEO Sergio Cravero, the MiTo is, "probably too small for today's U.S. market." In case you're wondering, the MiTo is the size of a Honda Fit. He goes on to say that, "A preliminary product assessment for a sporty three-door small hatchback showed potential volumes in the U.S. right now are roughly 20,000 units a year. That is not enough to make it a viable business case." Worrying about business cases in the U.S. is definitely a new paradigm for Alfa. But we're not going to fret too much, as Alfa Romeos will be making their way to American dealerships sometime in 2011. The first of which will probably be the Milano, a five-door mid-sized hatchback that we'll see at the Geneva Motor Show. Still, regarding the apparent no-show of the MiTo, we're a little bummed.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      mother f*ckers! I'm so sick of this big Americans and their big families on their big highways. America =/= California goddamn it. Has a single European automobile manufacturer ever been to New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia? Roads are not straight, cities are old with narrow streets, highways don't just connect to other highways. It kind of resembles *gasp* Europe!

      ohh, and i'm 6' (183cm) and I weigh 175 lbs (79kg, 12.5st). Married with no kids and plans for two at most.

      AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Jesus H. Christ on a pogo-stick.
        • 6 Years Ago
        That is not an attack on California. I love the state, but it seems like Europeans look at LA and think "all of America is like that". Kind of like how Europeans think all Americans assume Europe is a just a big cobble-stoned medieval city.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "America =/= California goddamn it. "

        Amen to that. But as a Californian, I have to say, with as crowded as our roads are, and as I'm looking to retire my '99 SV650 from being a daily commuter, I want one of these. In both the LA/SD and bay area, smaller cars = more parking. Give me a MiTO!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Have you ever been to ny, Pennsylvania and virginia? Outside the occasional mountain path(and I've been around these same paths in a minivan with no issue) our highways are damn straight. Not texas hypnotically straight, but straight enough.

        Our city and town streets are gargantuan with every city having it's fair share of avenues and 4 lane byways and the city streets tend to be fairly straight and pretty well designed for big cars to drive around. NYC in particular is really car friendly(minus the traffic).

        I've never been to europe, but I have been to puerto rico and old san juan which is a much more similar to that environment. The difference is HUGE. Whenever I get back to from puerto rico the standard sized roads, hell even the small ones, look huge by comparison.

        You are correct in saying that everything is near by though. The north east isn't like out west where you have to drive half an hour to get anywhere. You can't go 10 minutes on the highway without hitting a town in NY,NJ,PA,CT, and etc.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Respectfully, you're wrong on location: Manufacturers know full well that cars like this would sell great in California but not elsewhere. It's the rest of the country (minus east coast) that is the mass-market problem they face:

        Straight line roads, cheap gas and abnormally fat people have (in the past) made it tough to market efficient premium handlers like Alfas.

        Having just driven from SF to LA via Hwy 1/101 yesterday, I can tell you that California is NOT straight-line highways or cheap gas, at all. That's Texas. Or Mississippi. Or Oklahoma. The fattest people in the world live in those states and they drive thirsty trucks.

        But just wait: This will change inside of 24 months.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Dear Signore Sergio Cravero,

      Please bring the MiTo to the US, as it is a perfect size for us. I saw the MiTo on the streets on my trip in Europe, and it has all the makings of an attractive, brilliant compact car in the United States market. Not only does it have unrivaled Italian styling that we crave, but it also delivers fuel economy that competes with the latest US and Japanese offerings. Please do not hold out on us. I'm personally waiting to buy this car.

      Albert Lin
      • 6 Years Ago
      What are those pencil pushers smoking?
      Priced right this would sell !!!!!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      The thing about the Mini, (and also the 500) is that it has this "iconic-ness" that is almost unmatched with any other car. The classic Mini being voted one of the top-five cars of the century, second only to the Ford Model-T doesn't hurt either. The Mini is up there with Big Ben, the Queen, and the red phone booth, all items that are distinctly, historically British and that's ironically attractive to Americans. Americans think of Alfa Romeo, and they think of little open top roadsters that broke down a lot, they think of the one movie (The Graduate) that they've seen them in, and that's it. Would I buy an Alfa? Hell freaking yes. But I'm hardly the average American consumer.

      I personally own a Mini, and I have yet to run into one person that hates my car. Sure there are people who "wouldn't buy one", but it's damn lovable. The Mini never would have sold if it weren't for it's great iconic image, marketing, and the fact that it's fun as hell. The car isn't comfortable, isn't well equipped, and isn't cheap. But I love the crap out of it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think you have it.

        The divisions between car sizes are different. Nobody in Europe would be choosing between a Fit and Mito; they occupy different categories. One is utility (it's a very good car), the other is style, performance and heritage - and fun. And don't forget, the Fit is Japanese and for many people that is the end of it - by which I mean they'll have it for its perceived reliability, or they won't be seen dead in it. Alfa's heritage is ancient and magnificent and, as you say, largely unknown in America - or, in truth, to a lot of younger Europeans.

        The MINI has nothing to do with the original car, except stylistically; in fact it is the antithesis of what Issigonis (the designer) was attempting to do. And the MINI is not a small car. It is as wide as cars in categories (European) two sizes up. It was designed, like many Japanese cars, for the American as well as the European markets, which I beleive the 500 wasn't. In fact many people have a problem with the MINI that Americans are unaware of, and that is to do with its cynicism; but this is a big subject and rightly irrelevant in the US.

        For Americans these are all just small cars; for Europeans the 500 is small, the MINI and Mito are a category up, and the Fit and Yaris are Japanese. Worthy and very useful, but ultimately dull and not bought by the same people at all.

        So; as icons go, the Mito is an Alfa (just!), the 500 is a true Fiat (made by the same company that made the original - and that matters to some) and MINI is very fashionable but as much German as anything to do with Britain. Non-Brits will have different perceptions, but it is these emotions that the car companies depend on to shift product.

        The Fit is probably better than the Ford Fiesa by the way, but don't tell anyone over there.

      • 6 Years Ago
      I never comment on autoblog...

      But, I must say, If the MiTo is a no show stateside I am really going to be upset.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't understand this either. The Milano is a bit bigger, but no hugely so, and certainly not a (US) family car. And it has four doors, which not everyone likes.

      As somebody else said; something fishy here. But perhaps it really is the cost of meeting US regs?

      This is not the time for Fiat/Alfa to go all nervy about reintroducing itself to the American market.
        • 6 Years Ago
        While not everyone likes 4 doors, the U.S. market seems to like them a great deal more than they do 2 door/3 door cars. For example, from January to April this year, the Infinity G37 coupe sold 60% fewer units than its largely identical sedan counterpart.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Judging from the hungry heifers I saw getting into a Suburban at Walmart the other day or the 555 lb 14 year old on the news, it's no wonder Europeans are reluctant to bring tiny cars over here.

      As for anything Alfa Romeo, it's all sex on wheels.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "...our current domestic crop (Focus, Aveo, Caliber) needs more fertilizer."

      Our current domestic crop IS fertilizer!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      It can't be: not when the "smart" and MINI aren't too small in the USA.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The only cars I am interested in from Alfa are the 147 successor and a Spider - assuming they don't balloon them all up.

      The 8C is nice looking, but I wouldn't buy one even if I had the money. The larger cars from Alfa have been historically not as interesting anyway.

      Why merge with Chrysler if you are going to mirror their product line with the same large crap?
      • 6 Years Ago
      How is 20000 too small of a number for a "business case"? It seems the flaw is not with the car, but Fiat's production model (and possibly shipping costs.) Subaru made a "business case" for the WRX with a 10000 unit initial projection, why can't Fiat/Alfa?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yup, using that logic we should loose the following cars from north america asap:

        Audi A3, A5, A6, A8, Q5, Q7, TT, R8.

        if they can't sell them @ $15,000 and make a profit, then sell 20,000 at a margin which makes them viable, BMW charges ridiculous amounts for what you get with the Mini and they do fine. Alfa shouldn’t be the same as chrsyler, who in their right mind would expect them to sell on volume.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I would love to own one of these, or a Fiat 500. It is big enough for me.

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