Because notwithstanding its legendary status as an icon of Italian style and speed, its sales are slipping, it struggles to go beyond 1% percent market share in its main European market, and it is losing money. Simply, the quality which was etched in the company’s name for a long time now isn’t selling.
To circumvent the bad luck, the automaker aims at young men hearts. The expanded car market could be the much-awaited antidote.
Albeit the maker of Alfa Romeo TZ 2 parts has had the reputation for motor-racing coursing through its valves and pistons since its introduction nearly a century ago, years of mediocre parts and services have stripped the company of the premium status enjoyed by VW’s Audi and BMW.
"While it tries to pitch itself as a premium brand, it doesn’t quite make it," said Jonathan Pusket, an analyst at J.D. Power.
When the Fiat group acquired Alfa in 1986, its factories were empty of ideas, with no investment in technology or product development.
Sergio Marchionne, Fiat’s chief executive, last year told analysts Alfa "is the hardest asset that we have that we have to work (on)".
Now rising to that challenge is Luca De Meo — at 40, the youngest executive within the Fiat industrial group — who brings a badge of success from overseeing the recovery of the Fiat brand.
Enzo Ferrari used to race Alfa Romeos before he started up his own company, Alfa won the first Formula One World Championship in 1950, and in its 1960s heyday, cameo appearances in movies such as "The Graduate" and "The Italian Job" showcased the soft sleekness of its design.
"People love it for its history," said Tiberio Santagatti, a director at Club Alfa Italia for aficionados. "It’s had so many racing victories."
"Alfa’s problem is that it sells too few cars," said JP Morgan analyst Philippe Houchois. He estimated Alfa had a trading loss of up to 100 million euros in 2007.
Will the new market strategy prosper? That’s for us to know…