The brand's new chief demands changes.
The initial plan was to unveil the Alfa Romeo Tonale, a compact crossover the Italian brand desperately needs to help dramatically increase sales, sometime this summer. That launch has now been delayed by at least three months, an inside source informed Automotive News Europe. The reason reportedly has nothing to do with factory shutdowns or a semiconductor chip shortage, but rather because the brand's newly installed CEO, Jean-Phillippe Imparato, was not pleased by what he saw.
Previously in charge of Peugeot, he took over Alfa Romeo earlier this year following the FCA-PSA Groupe merger to create Stellantis. The Tonale's problem was the plug-in hybrid variant. Imparato wants performance improvements and those modifications will require additional time. Alfa Romeo declined to comment on the matter.
Based on the same platform as the Jeep Compass, the Tonale plug-in hybrid will be powered by a 1.3-liter turbocharged engine and a 60-hp electric motor located at the rear axle. A 11.4-kWh battery powers the latter motor. The new but still overseas-only Compass PHEV 4xe also shares this setup with up to 240 hp on hand and a 30-mile all-electric range.
Imparato believes these figures need to be better, especially for a luxury model. His time at Peugeot included the launch of the 3008 PHEV compact SUV which has a combined output of 300 hp, a 37-mile all-electric range (thanks to a bigger battery), and reduced emissions.
The Tonale concept debuted two years ago at Geneva though Alfa didn't admit a production version was planned at the time. Sales of its existing lineup clearly indicate the Tonale's importance. Sales of the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV have been less than stellar even though both are excellent vehicles. The Tonale's arrival will allow Alfa to compete in the highly profitable luxury compact SUV segment alongside the likes of the BMW X1, Audi Q3, and Range Rover Evoque.
Stellantis has been very clear that it's committed to Alfa Romeo's survival and getting the Tonale right from the get-go could prove to be critical. If there are no additional delays, the Tonale will go on sale in early 2022.