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Alfa Romeo says it’s here to stay in Australia as Tonale SUV lands


Despite posting its lowest sales this century in Australia, Alfa Romeo remains determined to prove it has longevity and can meet the survival mandate of Stellantis chief Carlos Tavares

Alfa Romeo Australia will be relying heavily on the sales success of the all-new Tonale premium small SUV and facelifted MY23 Giulia/Stelvio in its attempt to turn around its lowest sale volume in this country for 25 years.

While Alfa Romeo’s situation in Europe is starting to improve – during the first quarter of 2023, it doubled its European market share and increased sales by 136 percent (though didn’t quote actual numbers) – its Australian tally of just 100 sales over the same period seems particularly dire.

Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce 2023 badge
Alfa Romeo is betting on the Tonale being a big success

That’s 38 percent down on the same period in 2022 – a year that ranked as its lowest sales performance since 1998 (when, prior to the 156 launching, it sold just 311 cars in a full year).

Globally, during 2023’s first quarter, Alfa Romeo volume grew 64 percent compared to the same period in 2022. But the delayed arrival of the facelifted MY23 Giulia/Stelvio and the all-new Tonale to Australia means that a similar achievement is yet to be realised here – at least in the short term.

Stellantis’s Australian outfit has made a substantial investment in attempting to arrest this seemingly inexorable slide – commissioning billboards on busy freeways, airports and shopping centres to raise awareness of the new Tonale, as well as instigating social-media campaigns with Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to try and attract a new audience to the brand beyond traditional Alfisti.

2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce rear 3/4 driving
The facelifted Stelvio could also draw more buyers

Stellantis chief Carlos Tavares has previously stated that every brand in the group (which includes Fiat, Jeep, Peugeot, Citroen and Opel/Vauxhall, among others) has 10 years to prove that it is viable profitability-wise, so Alfa Romeo is hoping that the Tonale premium small SUV heralds an immediate sales ‘metamorphosis’, despite years of failed attempts.

Alfa Romeo’s best Australian sales performance in recent times was in 2002 when it managed 2513 sales, followed by 2013 (2373 sales) and 2014 (2498 sales). In 2018, despite the launch of the Stelvio SUV, Alfa achieved 1279 sales in Australia (compared to 23,800 sales in the US), and since then has consistently dipped below 1000 units a year, managing just 571 sales in 2022.

Yet according to Stellantis Australia’s corporate communications manager Alison Van Den Dungen, “at this point in time there’s absolutely no reason to be walking away from Alfa Romeo in Australia. We’re bringing out some really exciting product and that’s really going to revitalise the brand here, if anything.

2023 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce side front
Alfa Romeo is looking to attract more than just its diehard fans

“I definitely don’t think that now is the right time to be talking about us leaving,” she said.

Alfa Romeo has already begun the process of rapidly transitioning to widespread electrification, with the next-generation Giulia and Stelvio finally embracing the technology instigated by the Tonale Hybrid and forthcoming Tonale PHEV plug-in hybrid.

And with so much effort being expended in ensuring this iconic Italian brand has a future, Alfa Romeo’s Australian team remains ebullient that its sales train wreck can be salvaged.

“It’s a really exciting time for not only Alfa Romeo but all of the Stellantis brands here in Australia and around the world, as we embark on this new journey, this new venture towards EV across every single vehicle in the entire family,” said Ms Van Den Dungen.

“There’s so much exciting product coming out. They’re obviously looking at every single product across the board and where that fits and where its future lies [but] it’s a really exciting time for us,” she said.

How many Alfa Romeos have been sold in Australia each year?

  • 2022 – 571 sales
  • 2021 – 618
  • 2020 – 734
  • 2019 – 891
  • 2018 – 1279
  • 2017 – 1057
  • 2016 – 711
  • 2015 – 1577
  • 2014 – 2498
  • 2013 – 2373
  • 2012 – 906
  • 2011 – 1091
  • 2010 – 914
  • 2009 – 1236
  • 2008 – 1203
  • 2007 – 1866
  • 2006 – 1646
  • 2005 – 1572
  • 2004 – 1800
  • 2003 – 2006
  • 2002 – 2513
  • 2001 – 2023
  • 2000 – 1744
  • 1999 – 1502
  • 1998 – 311