The confirmation of the long-awaited Maserati Alfieri electrified supercar is the sort of model that manufacturers usually save for a major motor show, a dynamic online video or a bold, bespoke launch event. You know, the sort of event that involves lots of loud music, dramatic lighting and unhealthy amounts of dry ice.
Instead, the confirmation that the Alfieri will arrive by 2020 – and with a full EV version – came in the middle of a powerpoint slideshow during a presentation for financial analysts.
That study in contrasts encapsulates the surreal nature of the FCA Group’s Capital Markets Day, held at Alfa Romeo’s Bolocco Proving Ground not far from Milan. It was certainly one of the more unusual, yet fascinating, events I’ve covered as an automotive journalist.
The event was held for the bosses of the group’s various brands and divisions to present the latest five-year plan to investors and financial analysts. The previous version, as an aside, was held in 2014 – so yes, this five-year plan came four years after the last.
The investors and analysts gathered inside a building in the centre of Bolocco to hear from FCA’s management. It all looked very nice, with Alfa Romeo F1 cars and a whole line-up of Jeep products parked outside.
Well, it looked quite nice from the window of the media bus, as we were driven past it to a nearby workshop building, where we spent the day in a temporary press centre watching events from just across the road on a big screen. But don’t feel too sorry for us; they provided us with ample strong Italian coffee, and there were even ice creams available for post-lunch snacking.
Still, it was fascinating viewing. While skewed towards financials – there was lots of talk of revenues, profit margins, market capitalisation and establishing a Finco, whatever one of those is – the presentation was also packed with information on the various FCA brand’s model plans for the next five years.
Unlike at an event focused on new metal, little time was spent revelling in teasing details of the new models announced, such as horsepower or acceleration. Which explains why the confirmation of bold new supercars (hello Alfieri and Alfa Romeo 8C), returning favourites (the revived Fiat 500 Giardiniera), a host of electrified powertrains and – inevitably – lots and lots of SUVs came quite so thick and fast.
That said, it was fascinating stuff, particularly to see the way in which FCA is continuing to reshape its brands to fit the ever-changing automotive world.
Unlike the VW Group’s focus on positioning each brand of its mainstream brands at various levels of the market – from sporty, young Seat up to premium Audi – FCA is slotting its various brands into different market segments. So Jeep is the ‘authentic’ SUV brand, Alfa Romeo is the premium sporting brand, Maserati is the luxury brand – and Fiat itself, in Europe at least, is becoming an upmarket, retro-focused, electrified city car brand.
What the financial analysts and investors made of it all, I’m not sure. But the sheer volume and variety of new cars hidden inside the financial powerpoint presentations did show that the FCA Group has a plan for the future – and it will be exciting to watch that future played out when the actual new metal arrives over the next five years.
And when the actual Alfieri and other cars confirmed at the Capital Markets Day do arrive, they will presumably do so not in a follow-up powerpoint but with loud music, dramatic lighting - and unhealthy amounts of dry ice.