Ten years ago there was a revolution in Alfa Romeo. The presentation of the Mito meant a new attempt of the brand to grab a piece in the smaller segments, where Mini demonstrated that small and premium could be successful. As the European consumers were showing more interest in the premium cars, the demand soon started to move downwards in the segments. Audi, BMW and Mercedes launched their premium subcompacts and compacts.
The Mito was born following this market trend and making use of Fiat’s know-how with small cars. The company used the Punto’s platform to develop a premium subcompact that was supposed to be a challenging rival to the Mini. But the for several reasons, what started as an innovating product finished as one big flop for Alfa Romeo and Fiat Group. There are no reasons to celebrate the 10th birthday of the Alfa Mito.
Estimated data indicates that Alfa Romeo has sold around 285.000 units of the Mito since its launch. That is certainly a very low volume for a subcompact and the big plans the brand had in 2008. Unfortunately the top management (Luca De Meo and Sergio Marchionne) didn’t take into account two things that ruined their plans. The Mito arrived at a time when the drivers in Europe became more rational and the 3-door hatchbacks were not among their preferences anymore.
The Mito had another problem: it wanted to play in the premium category but featured the same perceived quality of the Punto, a mainstream protagonist. The small Alfa was more expensive than the Punto because it was supposed to be a rival to the Mini, and later to the Audi A1 and Citroen DS3. But it was available only with 3-doors and its interior didn’t correspond to a real premium subcompact.
In 2009, during its first full year in the market, Alfa Romeo sold around 65.000 units. Italy counted for 45% of the total. That was its sales peak because soon the Mito was going to face tough times in Europe. Sales didn’t stop falling since 2010, when global volume totaled 54.000 units. In 2011, as the European economy entered in a recession period, the Mito got a new threat: the B-SUVs were born. In 2013, when Europe was living the worst part of the crisis, a total of 20.000 Mitos were sold.
It was clear that the Mito was playing in the wrong segment as the shift from small hatchbacks to small SUVs was clear. Meanwhile the company didn’t do much to revert the negative trend as it never launched a restyling. Last year Alfa Romeo sold between 12.000 and 13.000 units, or the lowest annual result ever, which lead us to think that there won’t be any successor, but a small SUV that is supposed to hit the market in 2020. After 10 years in the market, 285.000 units sold and no successor in the pipeline, Alfa Romeo can’t celebrate.