Alfa Romeo’s return to rear-wheel drive is not being so easy as it was supposed to be. According to a report from suppliers to Automotive News, the Giulia has failed to meet internal crash test standards, what has delayed its market introduction. We confess we have not heard any deadlines for this car to be presented. Alfa Romeo only said it would be launched in 2016, but not at which point of 2016. But many things are simultaneously happening in order for us to ignore that Alfa Romeo may be really troubled.
First, the company has announced a change of its business plans. The alleged reason is “uncertainties in China”. Giulia is still predicted to 2016, but the SUV is expected to 2017. Other car presentations, such as the full-size sedan (replacement for the 166), two new SUVs, a hatchback (probably a Giulietta replacement) and two new specialty vehicles (possibly to show the 4C Coupé and Roadster the end of the line) are foreseen for 2017 until mid-2020. And then comes the catch: R&D, product and manufacturing investments will be reduced through 2018.
The next suspect move is that the chief of Giulia’s development, Philippe Krief, has allegedly left the company. He will be replaced by Roberto Fedeli, considered as a master in fixing troubled cars. Giulia, anyone? If everything with the car was ok, why would Krief leave before unveiling it? Alfa Romeo denies any problems with the car, but now that the reports have emerged, its response is simply obvious. Who would like to buy a luxury sedan with confirmed crash test and handling problems? Yes, there are also reports on the car’s behavior.
Marchionne has recently said he would like to see Alfa Romeo get back in F1 with a team of its own, but this is probably aimed as a smokescreen for the bad news that have recently emerged. If Alfa Romeo really wants to prove the reports wrong, it will have to do something much more consistent that just denying them. Presenting the Giulia and the new SUV would be a great idea…