Alfa Romeo looks to channel hype into U.S. sales

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Alfa Romeo is in the midst of a brand evolution that includes delving into electrification this year with the Tonale, its first plug-in hybrid and last new model with an internal combustion engine. The brand plans to go all-electric by 2027.

Its marketing leaders have described ad spending for the Tonale launch as unprecedented in a bid to expand the brand’s reach. That ad wave was accompanied by an elite performance in the 2023 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, which rated Alfa Romeo as the top premium brand and third overall in the industry.

The Stradale, with its rarefied status, is just the latest in a string of flattering headlines coming at a critical time.

Dominique said the Stradale reminds people of what Alfa Romeo can do and is a nod to its heritage.

“We’ve had periods of time in our history where we’ve done just amazing cars that were technology-changing or mind-changing or awareness-changing for the brand, and this does it for us,” Dominique told Automotive News. “We’re really focusing on getting back to really acting and behaving like a premium brand, and this reminds everybody of a little bit of the past and the beauty.”

Alfa Romeo will soon immerse itself in more racing events to gain exposure.

In October, the brand will have a presence at the Formula One race in Austin, Texas, before heading to Las Vegas in November for a Formula One street race. It’s the first Formula One event in Vegas since 1982.

Alfa Romeo is setting up shop in the Aria Resort & Casino in the days leading up to the racing spectacle, which will have the glittering Las Vegas Strip in the background.

Dominique said the brand’s Vegas display will include the Tonale and may have some “special cars” that he didn’t name. Alfa Romeo will have product experts onsite to talk about the lineup with potential customers.

The brand plans to run content on one of the Strip’s huge billboards, Dominique said. It’s also inviting some high-performing dealership salespeople to attend.

The last few years have been a time for Alfa Romeo to reset and build stability. After peaking at 23,800 in 2018, its U.S. sales hovered around 18,000 through 2021 before sliding 30 percent last year and 26 percent in the first half of 2023.

With the Tonale trickling into dealerships, Dominique said growth in volume and market share is in the cards. He noted that the brand’s average transaction price has risen 26 percent since 2021.

“Transaction prices are staying strong. You’ve seen where we’ve gone from a residual value point of view,” Dominique said. “If you look at where Stelvio and Giulia are now, we gained 10 and 11 points of residual value from the ’23 to ’24 model year.

“Tonale just got an extra five points of residual value with the September book, so we’re really focusing on that quality of business. Making sure we’re doing the rght things from a brand, we’re not pushing too much volume,” he said.

“It’s about finding that right customer, the right transaction price, competing head-to-head with the Mercedes and BMWs of the world and really putting Alfa in its rightful place in the market.”

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