The 4C is here… and then?

4c 5Alfa Romeo will finally start the deliveries of its 4C in September. The waiting has been too long since the release of the Concept back in Geneva 2011. Hence, it is perhaps one of the brand’s most awaited launches over the last 20 years, as it incorporates the latest performance technologic features and will be the car that will open the doors to the brand in USA. The company expects to sell 600 units this year, and 3.000 in 2014. These numbers confirm that the 4C didn’t arrive to add volume to Alfa sales, but to create a better image among Europeans, Americans and Asians. The car will be able not only in Europe and USA, but in Japan, China (as a premiere of the brand), the Middle East, and maybe Russia. Based on the comments of the public, the good pre launch marketing campaign, and the extraordinary characteristics of this car, it is quite clear that the 4C is going to be a success from all points of view, no matter its price (58.000 – 60.000 euro). This super sport car proves that Alfa Romeo can do the best when it works hard.

Alfa Romeo 4C InteriorBut after the 4C what is going to happen? in the best of the cases this model will add 3.000 units to the brand’s annual registrations (and a lot of profits), but it won’t solve the Alfa’s main problem: the lack of a big range of products. In June the brand introduced the MiTo MY 2013, while the Giulietta MY will arrive later this year. However no other big launch is expected to arrive in 2014 so the question is whether the 4C will be able to capture the attention of the public for another year, or the brand will have to anticipate the launch of the new coming models. Last year Alfa Romeo sold 100.000 units, and this year it will sell around 64.000, as it struggles to stop the sales fall in Italy and all European markets. If no other new product arrives before 2015, then next year the brand will sell around 59.000 units, which would be one of the worst result of the last 40 years.

4C headlightsThe 4C is fantastic, is an awesome car, but is not enough. Alfa Romeo needs more products and now. Its plans of selling 300.000 by 2016 seem to be just an unreachable goal when looking at its current situation. The Duetto should arrive by 2015, and if there are no problems, the Giulia should be presented by that year as well. Then, in 2016 the E-Sedan and the C-SUV should make their debut. But, where is the strategic planning of the company? why after creating the amazing 4C, Alfa Romeo isn’t ready for the next step? again, the company could make use of the strong image of the 4C not only to boost its Giulietta and MiTo sales, but to bring more products and benefit from the press, media, and opinion awareness that the supercar is generating now. Sooner or later, the attention brought by the 4C will end and then Alfa Romeo will be in the same situation of before. A pity.

Advertisements

34 responses to “The 4C is here… and then?

  1. The 4C is great but why did they change the front lights? This strange arrangement puts me off a bit.
    Yes it’s a halo car but given the current problems, low and falling sales and two model range, wouldn’t they have been better putting the resources into something more important?!

  2. It’s the ‘.. and then?’ i’m worried about also. Alfa has been promising it’s return for too long, fewer and fewer people are believing it. The products following the 4c will be the proof, if and when they come.. Alfa can’t afford to wait much longer.

  3. Marchionne is using all Fiat’s for buying new Chrysler’s share.
    He is trying to make money with finance, not trying to build and sell new cars.

  4. The 4C is a replay of the 8C, the re-birth of Alfa. The 8C was followed by very little quality product, the Mito is an abomination, while the Giulietta struggles on as the sole half decent product. The Mito update is a joke of epic proportions while the Giulietta may suffer a similar lack of interest from the Fiat masters in its update. If they are saying 2015 is the next lot of product, you can be sure it will be 2016 at the earliest, but by then the marque will be irrelevant. Alfa is now virtually a non-entity in Europe and I doubt that many US buyers wanting a premium priced car will opt for an Alfa over the established German and Japanese brands. The sales failure of the Dodge Dart pretty much sums up the type of obstacles Alfa will face. Almost 30 years of Fiat mismanagement and neglect can’t be overcome in 12 months like Marchionne seems to think.

  5. With Marchionne the mismanagement of the Fiat as a car manufacturer continues.

  6. Its quite funny why every one here talks about delay and failures, including that of Dart (while it is still too early to say), but doesnt want to acknowledge the strong sales achieved by FIAT in America\Canada and the 500L in Europe. Its best to take time but ensure the product delivered is right for the brand. It seems to me that with FIAT 500L, Maserati Ghible and now Alfa 4C FIAT is getting it rathr right that wrong..

    • I agree, the 500L is doing very good, and the new Ghibli and 4C are excellent products. But sometimes having the right product doesn’t mean to be right: you must be on time as well.

    • The 500 is a success, no doubt. But so far Fiat has not been able to build on that to create other successful mass-market models. The Dart is undermined by the 200 discounting, and for the 500L it’s still too early to tell.

  7. No sense to launch a big product like 4c with long waiting list without another new product that can be sold parallely at the dealers in big numbers. This new arrival will make tickle to the main competitors that are thanking Alfa Romeo for such suicide commercial policy. When you lose a customer for Audi, Bmw or Mercedes 99% of Times you lost it forever. I’m extremely sorry. To say what I’m saying because I love Alfa brand 😦

  8. Patience please! It looks like everyone here thinks that it is the easiest thing in the world to re-launch a brand with decades of poor management and continuous losses. Everyone’s favourite pass time seems to be to blame the present Fiat management. What about the former Fiat management who devalued the brand by launching cars with very poor build quality, wrong cars (fwd for D-segment) and refusing to sort out factory faults, neglecting the dealers to an extent where they were called “worst in the world”. What about the management of Alfa Romeo in the 70’s and 80’s before the Fiat take over? Did they make profits then? Did they have a full range? Did they make cars with acceptable quality? The answer is a big NO for all questions. So all you arm-chair CEOs please take a deep breath and relax. It’s easy to have great ideas and not easy to execute them….. From all the rumours around it looks like the E-segment car will be launched next year, given that the Ghibli is now on sale. So I don’t know where the 2016 date came from. If that launch is on time and the Spider, Giulia and SUV arrive in 2015, I am very confident that 300k won’t be a big number. As I have said before, you only have to look at the the success of the Fiat 500 in the US market. It’s a mini hatch back which is not a big % of US sales and yet they sell close to 50k a year! BMW, Merc and Audi sell close 750,000 cars a year in the US. Lexus, Acura and Infiniti sell another 500,000 units a year. Cadillac and JLR sell another 200k. How could Alfa Romeo with the Chrysler dealer network fail to sell 200,000 sedans and SUVs? With a full range (new Mito and Giulietta) Europe will contribute at least 150,000 cars. And if those to go to the US then it will be even bigger. And if they start assembling in Asia? Also as you know to relaunch (especially a troubled) brand it takes a load of money. Fiat without Chrysler would be tiny. So priority must be to swallow Chrysler fully. Only then will be have the resources to fully unleash Alfa, and not in a half baked way like many times before. I think that for the first time in the recent history of the brand, now it is in the hands of proper management that will see it to success.

    • Seriously, I think you’re almost as deluded as Sergio and his minions. Sergio was thinking about 200K Dodge darts per annum, yet the numbers a half that at best. You might think the Dodge Dart argument is irrelevant, but let’s face it, it’s Dodge trying to re-enter the largest car segment (does not include the trucks) in the US. after an absence of 10 years. This sector is millions per annum, yet the Dodge has failed as a new product even though Dodge is a known brand. The problem is Dodge is synonymous with poor quality, exactly the same attribute that afflicts Alfa and Fiat. You mention the good start in sales for the Ghibili, 500L and 4c – well Alfa’s history under Fiat is littered with products that start off well in sales but then fall in a heap from the second year on market- Giulietta, 156 and 147 are recent examples. The original popularity is from the true believers, brand loyalists and first timers giving Alfa a go, the problem is that the products fail to live up to expectations with plummeting sales from the second year on market. The way I see it, Alfa products under Fiat are of below average engineering and amongst the lowest build quality in the automotive world, trying to pass as being premium. By contrast, under Alfa management in the 60s, 70s and 80s, they were well engineered vehicles with the worst build quality known. Under Fiat, they kept the worst elements of Alfas of the era and then dumbed them down by taking away the only redeeming feature, the above average engineering.
      Marchionne is somehow escaping proper scrutiny about his ability to build up Alfa. In the 10 years that he has been in charge of Fiat he has managed to bring Alfa to its knees with its lowest number of sales in decades – and he hasn’t finished destroying it. Lancia lead the way down the path that Alfa is now treading.
      Marchionne’s grand plans always sound great, but in the end being lots of waffle with little substance. Sure the 4c built by Maserati may be good, but it’s 2500 vehicles per year not tens of thousands. In the end it purports to represent the high end engineering that will be a hallmark of future Alfas. Sure, let’s all believe Marchionne will release a range of significant high quality new product in 2015, after all it’s the utterances he was making after the 8C. Difference this time is that Chrysler is providing the engineering basis for the cars instead of Fiat – Chrysler the epitome of high engineering – LOL!

      • Ha ha good one Varela. If I am deluded then you are totally ill-informed and are making baseless claims. :D. Go back and check on the sales growth of the Dodge brand. It’s been a extremely healthy 36 months of often double digit growth! The factories are bursting at the seams. “Dodge is synonymous with poor quality,” is utter BS. It’s not a premium brand but it’s far from one with poor quality now. It is on par with other US brands. I think you should study the Fiat-Chrysler deal closely before making assumptions. The Dart NEEDED to get to the market by a certain date for Fiat to earn a % of Chrysler shares. Did you forget that? Therefore they were COMPELLED to launch it with the drive-trains readily available. The 1.4 MA and the 2.0 Tigershark with 6-speed autos and the TCT. But have no fear the 9-speed autos and newer engine options are on their way. The 2.4 GT is already open for ordering. I did not mention the “good start in sales for the Ghibili, 500L and 4c” Pls read my post again. I mentioned the success of the Fiat 500 in it’s 2nd year. After a shaky start it is outselling the MINI which is an established car. Why the 156 and 146 sales fell is because of their inherent timing belt problems and other quality issues such a premature wear of ball joints of the suspension as they were upside down and could not hold lubricants, MAF failures, rust on the roof etc. When the local agents called Italy about the timing belt issue they did not want to answer the phone! It was a customer service and PR disaster. Still the cars sold on their beauty and driving appeal. If you think that the Giulietta is below average then I don’t know what to say to you. IMO it’s up their with the class best. Marchionne is not under scrutiny because the rest of the board knows that his plans are greater than what is seen by outsiders. When RESOURCES ARE LIMITED one must invest wisely. You cannot throw money in a plummeting market. You rather invest in growth markets like North and South America. Freezing new model launches were the only way to save money to swallow Chrysler. You are right about Fiat losing the best elements of Alfa Romeo of the 60s. But to say that 1970s and 80’s Alfas were well engineered vehicles. How come they kept rusting and having electrical fires and generally falling apart. BTW I own a 1977 Alfetta GTV among 4 other Alfa Romeos. In the 80’s the transaxle platform was old and desperately needed upgrading. However they did not have money to do so. Why? Poor management. Only now is Ferrari resources trickling down to the lower brands. The new 1.8 Tbi is said to be good for 300 bhp! Is that class-leading or what?? Chrysler is not proving basis for Fiats at all. They will only use common platforms which is more or less a set of dimensions which is the way of the industry. Suspension, Engines etc will be completely different. It is like the relationship between the 300C and the Ghibli. Which is a lot more acceptable than say a Pheaton and a Bentley!

      • Don’t forget that Marchionne and his team saved Fiat from bankruptcy back in 2005, and the 500, the best example of how Fiat can be successful, was developed and boosted under his commands. Don’t forget also that Marchionne’s estimations aren’t that bad as you say: he said Fiat was going to sell 50.000 units of the 500 in North America, and guess how many they sold last year? don’t forget also the enormous success of the brand in Brazil, and the good demand the 500L is having. And don’t forget that Marchionne saved Chrysler.

    • I agree with you and I personally think that Marchionne is really good. The plans for Alfa Romeo are awesome and the 4C is the best example of what they can do when they do it. The problem is that it should be the first product of a group of new cars to come, but it seems that the new Giulia, Duetto, SUV, E-Sedan won’t arrive before 2015. That’s my point: the brand should make use of the enormous halo of the 4C to continue impressing the market with more products.

  9. Actually Fiat Panda (2002) and Fiat Punto (2005) saved Fiat, not Marchionne.
    Other designed and engineered these cars.

    • You do have a point there, but those successful products would probably not have been enough if the Fiat organization had imploded.

      Perhaps if it weren’t for Marchionne, Fiat would have been Chinese now and Alfa Romeo sold to Volkswagen – now that would have been a disaster.

      • Perhaps.
        Or perhaps a different CEO would have skipped the Chrysler opportunity and instead invested in new product for Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia. End result, better market share in Europe, but no US presence. Better or worse? Maybe worse for the company, but it might be better for the enthusiasts.

      • @thysi: It wouldn’t have been better if Fiat went bankrupt because the new model range didn’t generate enough money to keep Fiat afloat. Because then Fiat would have been a candidate for a takeover from another auto manufacturer (presumably a Chinese one), and Volkswagen could have had the opportunity to pick up Alfa Romeo and transform it into Audi Romeo, which would have been a disaster for Alfa enthusiasts (even though non-enthusiasts will tell you a different story).

      • @Q, new products would have provided better results in both Europe and Brazil, maybe even China. Fiat might have a credible Lancia and/or Alfa Romeo model line now.

        It’s a different strategy, and it could have worked (it worked for Ford). But we’ll never know for certain because Marchionne to a different approach, turning off the R&D taps and investing in Chrysler instead.

  10. One has only compare the Fiat strategy with the PSA strategy to see how far-sighted Marchionne’s plan was. Today Fiat is about to become the No. 7 car maker in the world with profits after reducing EU losses. PSA is down on it’s knees and bleeding badly. Why? because they continued with their new model launches investing billions while Fiat scaled down everything. After the Fiat-Chrysler merger the new company could even buy what remains of PSA! PSA is worth so little they could do it now I guess.

  11. Wow Argt21, Dodge not a poor quality product. Better check the most recent JD Power survey for the US. It’s the one with Fiat at the bottom and Dodge and Jeep also in the bottom 5 or thereabouts. No matter, time will tell, but the June production numbers out of the US factories show that the Dart production is being dropped because of large number of unsold inventory. Allpar.com suggests in the order of 40K sitting in car lots out of a total circa 110K produced in 12 months. The issues contributing to their weak sales were known at planning stage ie, motors and transmissions unsuited to American tastes. So, despite being aware of these factors, Marchionne still had sales targets of about 200K per annum – in that case he’s not deluded, just plain stupid. By the way, the Fiat 500 production numbers in Mexico are lower than last year, so again the traditional market drop off, although in this case probably attributable to the introduction of the 500L.
    I have a new Giulietta which is reasonable but nothing special. Sales numbers throughout the world would support that the Giulietta is average, after all, if it was fantastic as you want to believe, it would be selling by the hundreds of thousands. Alas, beauty is not enough. As a driver’s car, I much preferred my Alfasud sprint of the early 80s even though the Sprint had magnificent engineering (boxer engine, inboard discs) but woeful construction.
    In terms of the 2015 products arriving on time, let’s consider the consequences of Dart sales half of what was expected and a final buyout for the remaining Chrysler portion being delayed by over 6 months. Expected cash flow for Fiat way down, resulting in funds for product development withheld and consequent delays to product development for the Giulia and others – 2015 now 2016. Personally I would love Marchionne’s plans to work out as stated, but after totally believing his hype for 5 years, it became apparent his wildly unrealistic sales numbers were ignoring the market realities. He’s lowered his expectations somewhat for Alfa, but 300K sales in 2016 – seriously!

    • I am quite aware of the results and you must understand that the bulk of the current Dodge range is old stuff from the Daimler Chrysler days, no? Also one needs to take some of these “satisfaction” surveys with a pinch of salt as it’s more to do with functionality dislikes than poor quality. – http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/best-cars-blog/2013/06/GM_Improves_Rank_in_JD_Power_Initial_Quality_Study/ Pls read the 4th para.
      Don’t forget the good of the Dart – http://www.allpar.com/forums/topic/150498-an-dart-fiat-among-kbbs-10-coolest-cars/
      Pls also try understand that the Dart range is not complete. You saw the first years sales of the 500 did you not? It’s struggled for the same reasons – No Auto, No Abarth. However once again I must remind you since you seem to have forgotten that they HAD to launch the 500 and the Dart bang on those deadlines to gain more ownership of Chrysler. It is a question of what is Urgent vs what is Important. It’s important to have a full range at launch but it is urgent to get the car out on time to get ownership which in the end is more important. Other models will roll out slowly. Don’t forget Chrysler is struggling for capacity. They probably would not have expected the 200 and Avenger to rock the charts like they are doing right now. Hence the delay with the new 200.

      Aha so sales numbers can show us if a car is good or bad? How do you explain the success of the Kias, Hyundais and Toyotas? Those are the average cars. Read this review and tell me that the Giulietta is an average car – http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/first-drives/alfa-romeo-giulietta-20-jtdm-tct
      I have driven 3 1.4 MA’s and they are great. Better than a Golf (the so called bench mark) for sure. The Sud Sprint is an amazing car and I currently own 1980 Veloce too 🙂

      Don’t lose hope things are harder than it seems but they are on the right track despite the delays. And everyday poses a new challenge – http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130710/COPY01/307109971/u-s-serbia-could-benefit-if-fiat-shifts-production-from-italy#axzz2YeG3yYT2
      Read the part that says “Alfa, Maserati crucial”. Fiat really cannot afford to lose Alfa.
      I know it’s frustrating for us Alfisti because the brand is close to our hearts, but one must face reality.

  12. The JD Power and Consumer Reports studies are increasingly meaningless and irrelevant. The Chrysler products achieve reliability figures that are 300% better than Toyota was broadcasting itself as world leading quality only a few years ago.

    The differences between cars for sale in America are now so minute. At one time in 70s and 80s, when downsizing started, American cars had 750 defects per hundred; and Toyota had 350 per hundred, half as much. Now they compare each other, at just slightly more than 100 defects per hundred.

    In other words there is likely only one defect per car, on average, for all auto makers. Still that is much better than when Toyota was bragging about only having 3.5 defects per car, on average.

  13. I am quite aware of the results and you must understand that the bulk of the current Dodge range is old stuff from the Daimler Chrysler days, no? Also one needs to take some of these “satisfaction” surveys with a pinch of salt as it’s more to do with functionality dislikes than poor quality. – http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/best-cars-blog/2013/06/GM_Improves_Rank_in_JD_Power_Initial_Quality_Study/ Pls read the 4th para.
    Don’t forget the good of the Dart – http://www.allpar.com/forums/topic/150498-an-dart-fiat-among-kbbs-10-coolest-cars/
    Pls also try understand that the Dart range is not complete. You saw the first years sales of the 500 did you not? It’s struggled for the same reasons – No Auto, No Abarth. However once again I must remind you since you seem to have forgotten that they HAD to launch the 500 and the Dart bang on those deadlines to gain more ownership of Chrysler. It is a question of what is Urgent vs what is Important. It’s important to have a full range at launch but it is urgent to get the car out on time to get ownership which in the end is more important. Other models will roll out slowly. Don’t forget Chrysler is struggling for capacity. They probably would not have expected the 200 and Avenger to rock the charts like they are doing right now. Hence the delay with the new 200.

    Aha so sales numbers can show us if a car is good or bad? How do you explain the success of the Kias, Hyundais and Toyotas? Those are the average cars. Read this review and tell me that the Giulietta is an average car – http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/first-drives/alfa-romeo-giulietta-20-jtdm-tct
    I have driven 3 1.4 MA’s and they are great. Better than a Golf (the so called bench mark) for sure. The Sud Sprint is an amazing car and I currently own 1980 Veloce too 🙂

    Don’t lose hope things are harder than it seems but they are on the right track despite the delays. And everyday poses a new challenge – http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130710/COPY01/307109971/u-s-serbia-could-benefit-if-fiat-shifts-production-from-italy#axzz2YeG3yYT2
    Read the part that says “Alfa, Maserati crucial”. Fiat really cannot afford to lose Alfa.
    I know it’s frustrating for us Alfisti because the brand is close to our hearts, but one must face reality.

  14. there is again an abysmal lack of SERIOUSLY THOUGHT OUT PRODUCTS in the Fiat group, most are “best effort” and completely lack the positioning in the respective market segments that should actually be the the first thong to do if you need to re-launch a brand. What they DESPERATELY need to do is a “Giulietta Berlina/Wagon” … a Sedan , to cater for the people who would like a “Giulia” like product NOW – Waiting until 2015-16 for Giulia is COMPANY SUICIDE as the market ecosystem will be occupied by lots and lots of competitors…And another thing.. Henry Ford used to tip his hal in respect when seeing Alfas… because they had the most refined, well designed and luxurious but not ostentatious design.. this continued until the late sixties… when quality brutally collapsed… maybe it is time to look back and use it !!!!

  15. After 4C nothing, because there isn’t the money and the will to do anything.

  16. According to CAR magazine online today the Mito and Giulietta are to be killed off and Alfa will concentrate on larger cars, although a BMW X1 rival might be an indirect replacement for the Giulietta. It says to me all new Alfa’s must be global models. As long as the cars don’t become too American or Asia specific then its maybe not a bad plan – but I do feel if these cars came along the Giulietta would do much better and leaving this market when all the other premium brands are entering it due to downsizing is madness!

  17. Thought some more about this. Killing the Giulietta would be crazy! I like the Mito and have previously thought killing it would be bad too, however Fiat’s 500 models and hot Abarth versions fill this space already there isn’t a high tech up market small platform for a new Mito and the existing car while funky and charming isn’t as class competitive as it might be. The Giulietta however is a very competitive product that is close to the best cars in the C-segment. The up coming mild updates will keep it fresh for another two maybe three years. The Quadrifoglio Verde has been criticised a little by the UK press for its handling due to the extra weight of the engine over the front wheels (they prefer the 1.4 Multiair models!), but the 4C engine is aluminimum and lighter so fitted to the Giulietta I would assume that this issue would be resolved. It won’t be cheap to do but VW Golf style update in late 2016 making small but necessary updates all over the car would leave Alfa with a fantastic entry level model and would benefit the other Fiat/Chrysler cars in this segment such as the Dart and Viaggio. On this one point I hope the car article is wrong!

      • Some of it does seem unlikely. Another UK magazine Autocar has published an update today in their magazine (will probably published online in a few days time) on the plans, which differ quite a lot from the Car story and includes quotes from the head of Alfa in the UK (who may not know everything of course and also want to keep sales of the current range strong by saying they have a future). They say that the Alfetta will be based on the Ghibli and there will be one SUV based on the Jeep Cherokee (as originally thought). However information on the Giulia is less detailed and it says the SUV is to reach the UK first according to the boss of Alfa UK. They also say that the Alfetta may arrive before the Ghibli too. The Alfa UK boss seems to suggest there will continue to be a B segment Alfa in the future but that before this arrives there will be a major overhaul of the Giulietta. The SUV is to arrive next year allegedly.

        Really liking the sound of the new Spider though. Only 40% common parts with the MX5 and it will be powered by the 1.4 Multiair engine rather than the engine from the 4C but as a former GTV and current MX5 owner I have high hopes for this car!

  18. The latest two articles are now available on Autocar.co.uk. The one about the Spider includes few surprises – but some of the content about the new product plan is interesting and very different to what has been reported by Car!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s