You might not like the fact that Alfa Romeo is building an SUV–especially when it killed the Giulia wagon–but if you care about the brand, you better hope the Stelvio succeeds. It’s no exaggeration to say that Alfa Romeo’s future rests on the Stelvio’s shoulders, following the slow sales start of its new Giulia sedan. Automotive News reports that since going on sale last May, Alfa Romeo has sold under 19,000 Giulias in Europe and less than 1700 in the US since its December debut here.
Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne predicted Giulia sales to be around 75,000 to 100,000 units annually, so this new sedan is way off in its first year of sales. Marchionne aims for Alfa Romeo to sell 170,000 cars this year, and for the brand to become profitable for the first time in two decades next year. With the Giulia lagging behind expectations, the Stelvio has a lot of slack to pick up.
In spite of these less-than-ideal circumstances, we don’t need to give up all hope for Alfa just yet, since the Stelvio is arriving at the perfect time. Worldwide, there’s significantly larger demand for compact luxury crossovers than sedans, so it’s not unreasonable to expect the Stelvio to outsell the Giulia. Plus, Jaguar has had a huge hit in its first SUV, the F-Pace, so perhaps the Stelvio could mimic the Jag’s success.
Automotive News also reports that Alfa has two more crossovers in the works, though we’ll have to wait until 2019 to see either. One will be smaller than the Stelvio, while the other is larger, making it a competitor to the Audi Q7, BMW X5, and others.
While we’d love to see Alfa focus its attention on building more sedans and sports cars, the lukewarm reception to the 4C and Giulia proves that it’d be wise to put its resources behind more SUVs. With any hope, Alfa’s SUVs will be a hit, and then the company can keep building the sorts of cars it made its reputation on.