Alfa in America

How the brand will move forward in an important market

By Gary S. Vasilash

Alfa Romeo has been around since June 24, 1910, or for 111 years (as of then).

The brand, especially in Europe, has been widely known for its performance vehicles, performance not like a Dodge Charger Hellcat, but as something that is more at home powering through twists and turns.

There are solid enthusiasts for the brand—the “Alfisti”—with some two million active on Facebook and Instragram, lauding what it stands for and what it produces.

In the U.S., however, the numbers of sales aren’t particularly large. In the bizarre pandemic year of 2020 Alfa sold a total 18,586 vehicles in the U.S., which is just a couple thousand more than the number of Chrysler 300s sold—16,653—but realize that that car is 10 years old.

Still, Alfa’s 2020 U.S. sales were up 2%–and that it the only brand in the Stellantis lineup with a plus sign in front of its sales in 2020 vs. 2019, which is saying something.

For Q1 2021 Alfa is showing considerable strength (relatively speaking, of course), which a gain of 25% compared with Q1 2020, with 4,646 sold.

Giulia Quadrifoglio (Image: Stelllantis)

So if it is a good year, and if there is availability of product, then the brand is probably looking at sales of about 20,000 vehicles, primarily the Stelvio crossover, the Giulia sedan, and a smattering of Alfa 4C sportscars.

Larry Dominique was named senior vice president, Alfa Romeo Brand – North America in March 2021. He’s the guy in charge in the U.S. (as well as Canada and Mexico).

Prior to that he was the president and CEO of PSA in North America. In that role he didn’t bring Peugeots to the streets. But he helped launch Free2Move, a carsharing service that originally launched in Washington, DC, and has expanded to Portland, Oregon.

Dominique had been the president of ALG, the company that is largely responsible for establishing residual values for vehicles. And during that same period—2011 to 2015—he was the executive vice president of OEM, Data and Analytics for TrueCar.

His most notable stint, from 1989 to 2011, was at Nissan. His last position there was as vice president for Product Planning. While at Nissan he met Carlos Tavares, who was with the Renault-Nissan Alliance at the time—and who is now the first CEO of Stellantis.

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Dominique spends the hour talking Alfa with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Joe White of Reuters and me.

He talks about the challenges and opportunities of the brand.

One of the things that he emphasizes—a thing that is highly important not only for vehicle brands but for brands of any type—is that they have a clear understanding of what Alfa is—and what it isn’t.

He explains that his brief is not only to protect what “Alfa” is, but also to grow the brand without sacrificing that identity.

Dominique, who has a degree in engineering, is very methodical in his approach to boosting the brand.

But what is absolutely evident that he, too, has a passion for Alfa Romeo, which an important complement as he helps move it forward.

And you can see the show here.

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