Alfa Romeo comes to China, but will it Sell?

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Alfa Romeo debuted as a brand on the Guangzhou Auto Show and they brought… only two cars, and a concept car. Those were the MiTo, the Giulietta and the 4C. Sales have to begin sometime in 2012. Fiat doesn’t have a working joint venture in China, production at the new Guangzhou-Fiat jv is still at least two years away, so all Alfa’s will be imported and therefore expensive. Will the Chinese buy them?

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Chinese car buyers are very much willing to pay a premium for an imported car, but only if it is a premium car. Is Alfa premium enough to get the extra money out of Chinese pockets? I think not. The Alfa Romeo brand might be famous in Europe but it is not in China. Fiat so has to start from zero to built the Alfa-brand in China. That takes time, a lot of time.

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The MiTo then. Not a chance. The only brands that can ask a premium for a small imported car are Mini, Volkswagen (Beetle) and Audi (A1). Volkswagen and Audi are strong and long established names in China and Mini is distributed through BMW’s dealer-network.

The Giulietta. Slightly bigger chance because it is a beautiful car. But it is even less premium than the MiTo, same problem with the unknown brand and there is no sedan, which you need in China, especially in the Giulietta’s segment.

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4C. Well, yes. Chinese car buyers love everything fast and expensive. Too bad the 4C does not yet exist, and knowing the way Fiat develops cars it won’t hit the market in at least two years.

Then there is the small problem of a dealer network. Fiat doesn’t really have one. They will likely use the Guangzhou Auto network for the time being. And that indeed, ain’t exactly premium either.

Conclusion: forget it, stay in Italy ’till the joint venture is running like a baby. To end this story and prove my point:

Yez you saw that right, those bad Chinese journalists are comparing the MiTo with a bloody rabbit. Not a good start…

Via: Autohome.

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  1. Alfa’s appeal stays on its european heritage of wonderful sportcars: in China there’s not enough automotive culture to make them attractive now, no matter how beautiful car they are or how good driving they have.

    Also the actual limited range, without any sedan, makes impossible any market penetration.

    Only a long-term strategy of communication, maybe based on the connection with “made in Italy” luxury on Fashion, and a propr model range may lead eventually the chinese customers to appreciate Alfa as a premium Brand.

    By the way,
    if the chinese journalist compare Mito’s front to a rabbit face, do they really like the fish-faced Mini or the Bulldog-like A1’s front end?
    Frankly speaking it seems to me just a matter of Bran perception…


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