Alfa Romeo realigns product onslaught (again)

Restructuring Due To Slow Chinese Market, Desire To Strengthen Distribution Network

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After Sergio Marchionne announced an ambitious plan in May of 2014, Alfa Romeo has continued to struggle, pushing back launch dates and the debut of the models that would serve as the brand's new bedrock. And now it's happening again.

A new investor relations document reveals that Alfa won't complete the debut of its new lineup until the middle of the next decade, and that FCA will be scaling back the brand's research and development, manufacturing, and product investments through 2018. The move is partially down to "uncertainties" in China, which gels with what we reported back in December. Alfa also needs extra time to "guarantee proper global distribution network execution," the document claims.

As we've reported, the revised product cadence will still see the Giulia (pictured) and a new midsize utility vehicle hit dealers in 2016 and late 2016/early 2017, respectively. From there, Alfa is still aiming to flesh out its lineup with six more vehicles, including a fullsize sedan, two more utility vehicles, two "specialty" vehicles, and a hatchback.

This new product strategy differs from the original Marchionne strategy in a few key ways. First, all of these vehicles were supposed to have been launched between May 2014 and sometime in 2018. Since it's 2016 and we can't even buy a Giulia yet, it's pretty clear that plan isn't going to happen. Instead, the six vehicles that will follow the Giulia and midsize CUV won't start arriving until 2017, with debuts continuing until at least 2020.

The new product strategy also better reflects today's market. Gone are the two compact cars, and in their place is a single hatchback, arriving at the tail end of the brand's new product offensive. That might explain why the MiTo was given a stay of execution. It's no surprise to see a second utility vehicle in Alfa's plan, considering the way the segment has exploded in the past few years, while enthusiasts will likely welcome the idea of a second "specialty" vehicle. The brand's second midsize sedan has been pushed out, though, so the only Alfa four-door following the Giulia will be a fullsizer.

As for Maserati, the investor relations PDF didn't list nearly as many specifics. As we've reported, FCA still expects the Levante CUV to be a growth leader for the brand by 2018. The performance brand's fortunes will also be bolstered by pairing its dealerships with those of Alfa Romeo.

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