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Alfa Romeo Is Stealing Customers From The Germans

Interview / Comments

And pulling people away from mainstream brands.

Alfa Romeo didn't have any new products to reveal at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show but the future still looks bright for the Italian luxury brand. We sat down with Ben Lyon, Head of Product Marketing for Alfa Romeo North America, to talk about how the company fared in 2018 and what the future holds.

Right off the bat, Lyon was quick to point out Alfa's sales of 23,800 vehicles in North America, which represented a 98% increase from 2017. At first, you may be quick to attribute this success to the Stelvio SUV when in fact, the Giulia sold 11,519 units in 2018 compared to 12,043 units for the Stelvio - this is much closer than we would have predicted.

Lyon explained "when you look at Giulia sales, it's almost 50-50 [with Stelvio]. Giulia sales are up 29% year-to-year while the premium sedan segment was down 12%. This shows us people are excited to have Alfa Romeo back in the United States after such a long absence." Surely the Giulia's sales success means Alfa will stay dedicated to the sedan segment, while many other automakers are starting to abandon it. Alfa Romeo has also been successful in drawing customers away from other luxury brands as well as mainstream ones.

"As far as conquest rates, we actually get about a 50-50 split from mainstream and premium. We are tied with Tesla in that regard," said Lyon. This is better than other luxury brands such as BMW, which only pull around 30% of their customers from mainstream brands. Lyon says the three main brands people have been trading in are Audi, BMW, and Mercedes but a lot of customers are "coming up from Jeep as well."

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The Giulia should be safe for the foreseeable future, though with the recent discontinuation of the 4C Coupe in North America, we wondered about the future of sports cars in the Alfa lineup. "We haven't announced any plans to alter, stop, or do anything with 4C," said Lyon. "We continue to go strong with that vehicle - it's selling very consistently in its volumes."

Lyon couldn't speak about future products like the publicly announced return of the 8C Supercar and the GTV but did say "we always need to have either a halo car or a high-performance vehicle, or something that speaks to the brand pillars with an exclamation point. Something that really stands out from the crowd that's is bright, fast, and sleek. We'll do that in the form of the 8C, the GTV, another Quadrifolio product, or something like that."

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