Not even legendary Italian automaker Alfa Romeo is immune to regulatory pressure.
“I think alternative powertrain are a primary focus of all automotive manufacturers,” said Ben Lyon, head of product marketing at Alfa Romeo North America. “I believe every manufacturer is there and we’ll be included in that as well.”
In Europe, this prestigious FCA brand already offers diesel-powered versions of its Giulia sports sedan and Stelvio crossover, but do not expect any oil-burning love on this side of the Atlantic. “We don’t see [a] volume opportunity in the U.S. given the fact that we are still a growing brand,” admitted Lyon. “We don’t have enough buyers, we believe right now, to make diesel a value proposition for the United States. We’re focused right now on gasoline propulsion.”
But even in the old-world, compression-ignition’s popularity is waning as government regulation clamps down on tailpipe emissions. Still, Alfa Romeo is likely considering other propulsion options for future vehicles. This includes going all electric.
Lyon said a battery-powered Alfa is totally on the table as long as it’s in line with the brand’s core DNA. “So, I think No. 1 is our Italian roots. These vehicles are built, bred, designed, manufactured in Italy.” Beyond that, the company is absolutely focused on delivering products with best-in-segment driving dynamics.
“I don’t think it matters what’s under the hood. I think that you’re going to have your purists that say that, you know, ‘It’s got to burn gasoline and it’s got to be loud,’” Lyon said. “[But] as long as we’re staying true to our roots… we can deliver on that regardless of the type of propulsion.”
Currently, Alfa Romeo’s lineup is rather limited. The brand offers a sports sedan, one crossover and an exotically styled coupe, hardly a broad enough range to compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz or Audi, not that they necessarily need to. Still, this company is eyeing the ever-growing utility segment.
“When you look to the volume-growth opportunities in the premium markets… the opportunity really is there with utility vehicles,” noted Lyon, hinting at the C- and E-segments. He also added, “We’re obviously looking to the biggest and fastest-growing segments when we’re taking a look at future product opportunities.” This seems to indicate that Alfa Romeo is exploring crossover segments, models larger and smaller than the current Giulia.
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