Will the storied Italian marque thrive or dwindle under the merged FCA-PSA group?
Once the merger goes through, the joint FCA-PSA will become one of the largest automakers in the world, with a vast portfolio of brands to trade on. And Alfa Romeo could be the most valuable – but its value might only be realized if its growing parent company invests in its future, and invests heavily.
"Alfa Romeo fills a profitable niche that FCA needs. However, the billions it will take to round out its whole lineup would probably be too much for FCA to handle on its own," AutoForecast Solutions analyst Sam Fiorani, told the Detroit Free Press.
"Possibly with the support of PSA, Alfa Romeo could remain in the market long enough to become a near-luxury alternative to the more established brands," concluded Fiorani. However, "If the new company needs to reduce expenses, Alfa Romeo could be among the first things cut."
The brand's fortunes have dipped and risen over recent years. After years of planning, delays, and false starts, Alfa Romeo started its revitalization (and its return to the North American market) with 2015's introduction of the Giulia sedan and the Stelvio crossover the following year. Following initially promising sales, however, Alfa's market performance in the US has taken a 27 percent hit towards the tail end of 2019.
Now FCA is planning on rolling out a couple of new crossovers, and updating the Giulia and Stelvio, while winding down the 4C and canceling plans for a new halo sports car.
Alfa Romeo is "a brand that has been fundamentally absent from the U.S. for well over 20 years, and there's still many people that have never heard of Alfa Romeo … and it just takes time, it takes time," said Reid Bigland, then head of the brand, told journalists in 2017. "We're looking to build great vehicles, great experience and be patient and not get into brand-eroding or vehicle-eroding value practices."
At the time, Alfa Romeo was touted as one of four core global brands for Fiat Chrysler, alongside Jeep, Ram, and Maserati. But the Freep notes that Alfa has since fallen from that position as FCA tries to find place for it as sales dwindle and the parent company considers the brand's future and the investment it would take.
Another analyst suggests that the key to Alfa's success could be in simplifying its product portfolio "and focus on understanding its target market," said Carla Bailo, head of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here's hoping that whatever the joint leadership of FCA and PSA decide to do with Alfa Romeo, it'll be for the best.