Alfa Romeo Really Needs The Stelvio SUV To Be A Huge Hit

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Returning to profitability depends on Stelvio sales.

Despite all of the many rave reviews for the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Giulia Quadrifoglio, the automaker has sold 18,908 Giulias in Europe since May 2016. In the US, 1,600 Giulias were sold in the first four months of this year, according to Automotive News. Point is that that figures aren't exactly fantastic, especially since FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne predicted annual global sales of 75,000 to 100,000 units. With global demand dwindling for sedans, it's more important than ever for Alfa Romeo's latest model, the Stelvio, to be a major hit.

Fortunately, the Stelvio's launch is coming at a time when demand for crossovers, especially luxury crossovers, continues to rise. The Stelvio is also critical to Alfa's return to profitability, which Marchionne predicted will happen in 2018. Even though both the Stelvio and Giulia share a platform, the Giulia has not met sales expectations, so that leaves the Stelvio in a critical position. A good sign of things to come is that the Stelvio's main competition, such as the BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace and Mercedes-Benz GLC, all experienced a US sales increase last year. In fact, the premium crossover segment as a whole increased 32 percent in 2016.

But what happens if, for one reason or another, the Stelvio fails to meet sales expectations? Backup will arrive in the near future as Alfa plans to launch compact small and large crossovers to complement the Stelvio and better position the Italian brand to against its German rivals. However, neither of these so far unnamed crossovers will arrive until 2019 at the earliest (and Alfa is known for delays), so it'll be up to the Stelvio to be the sales leader in order to meet that 2018 profitability goal.

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