FCA’s premium brand is now selling around 600 of the new saloons every month, a roughly even split of rear and four-wheel drive models, through an expanding network of dealers that currently stands at 168 in the US, with a further 15 in Canada. For context, segment-leading Mercedes-Benz has more than twice as many dealers and sells ten times that number of C-Classes, so there’s work to do.
“We’re launching the Giulia but we’re also launching the brand and growing the dealer network,” acknowledges Pieter Hogeveen, a Dutchman who’s now director of Alfa Romeo North America. “We must be realistic with our volume expectations and not put the cart before the horse.”
Hogeveen speaks from experience, having spent 2004-06 reintroducing Cadillac and Corvette in Europe. He stresses the importance of getting the dealer network and customer service right, rather than getting caught up chasing volume too soon. At this point, nearly every Alfa Romeo customer is a conquest from one of the other premium brands; Hogeveen knows that keeping those customers – 70% of whom are on private lease deals – will be crucial if the brand is to avoid a false dawn of the type endured by the 156 in Europe. Every customer survey comes straight to his inbox.