Discussion in 'Mopar / FCA News' started by Beentherebefore, Dec 28, 2019.
The only thing in common between Mustang and Mach E is the name.
This is what happens when the prolific Asians flood the market with a sea of look alike forgettable identical and soulless CUVs. The boredom is so palpable that when I am assaulted by the constantly running Hyundai/Kia ads I on cable TV I have to get up and leave the room. They have blanketed the market with needless duplication and they are all lacking in any kind of individual style and Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Subaru are all just as bad, tho I forgive ONLY Subaru because they build (But never advertise) the BRZ (Toyota '86' is the same car).
When people ask me what my next vehicle will be after hopping out of their faceless CUV, I say "well, it has to have a Hemi to start, and be fun and loud". These kids you speak of get it. A lot of others are content to be numbed into a nether world of boredom when they drive, I am NOT.
It has some of the styling from Mustang as well, but it doesn’t have much else in common with Mustang OR Focus...it’s only based on a heavily reworked platform that underpins Focus, so that’s where the similarity ends there as well. Still, as I said, attaching it to the Mustang name is better than attaching it to the much more lackluster Focus.
Granted, none of this has anything to do with whether or not Alfa can be saved, so I digress.....
They're still more popular than I'd care for them to be. I often see long queues of them on my commutes in the South Hills area (Mt. Lebanon/Bethel Park/Upper St. Clair).
Part of the problem is the Japanese manufacturers have become very risk-averse since their economic bubble broke. If you look at their lineups from the late 80s/early 90s, they have much more variety, plus their home market had offerings that were very unique (Autozam AZ-1, Toyota Sera). And since Japan has lead the way in automotive trends since the 70s, everyone else follows suit, making what's easy to sell and little else. I'm sure there are shareholders that'd be thrilled if FCA shuttered Dodge and Chrysler so they could focus even more on Jeep and Ram.
Alfa's problem is they aimed too high. They should've aimed to be the Italian Buick/Acura before trying to be the Italian BMW/Lexus. They could have given us a refreshed Mito/Giulietta/159/Spyder lineup as a stopgap while using the money from sales of those models to build their way up to cars like the Giulia/Stelvio. But no, the long game is too slow for modern shareholder-focused business. ROI now!
Dave Z said: "Alfa Romeo seemed to have been design
LOL. True. Ford has been itching to do a four door Mustang for decades. They turned the 71-73 into a mini LTD, why not ?
The four door T-Bird, Cougar wagon, how many other ways can we exploit a name?
They've destroyed the Focus name with that Power S**t transmission. Burned entry level buyers, singles, the elderly, parents buying their kids their first car and continued to do it for 9-10 years with that garbage transmission. And introduced it knowing it was bad. For that alone I will never own a Ford. Think I want to take a chance with an electric cash grab ? Like I'd trust GM after that ignition switch scandal to sell me an elkectric anything.
Now they're on their way to destroying the Mustang name. Keep up the good work Ford. This one's going to come back and burn ya,big time.
Packard 120 and 110 come to mind when cheapening and exploiting a name. Fairmont and the Focus itself, record breaking recall queens. Go for it.
Oh yeah. And a sweet one too, early '00s.
Where there's a will, there's a relative
Unfortunately, the required “brand prestige” that helps buyers justify paying the price premium for a luxury brand trickles down from top to bottom, not the other way around. In fact, this is the only area I know of where “trickle down” actually works
This is the reason Lexus launched with the LS400 first, and then added ES, RX, etc. Acura did the same a few years before when it launched Legend first; Integra later. Infinity did the same: it launched with the flagship sedan first; then added volume models. Just like S-Class and 7-Series long defined Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
In luxury, the flagship vehicle sets the ceiling for the price premium that the brand can command. Once that ceiling is set, it becomes relatively easy to add vehicles below, but it becomes nearly impossible to add models above. For instance, Mercedes can easily sell E-Classes and C-Classes, but to this day struggles to sell Maybachs, Pullmans, or anything above S-Class.
Because FCA was re-launching Alfa Romeo, their initial vehicle launches had to hit the top of the price scale where they expected Alfa Romeo to operate.
The problem with Alfa Romeo, IMO, is that regardless of being a great effort for FCA, it didn’t offer anything that was sufficiently better than what the competition already offered. The name Alfa Romeo, through its storied past, had retained enough cachet over the years to grab the attention of affluent buyers. But the reality is that the name had also become associated with inconsistent, temperamental quality.
No doubt there was a group of buyers who had been waiting for Alfa Romeo to return with great anticipation. But for the vast majority of buyers that were needed to sustain sales beyond the first 24 months, their interest waned once reports started to come out that the new Alfas were as temperamental as the old ones. Once the word got out, that was it.
We only have one chance to make a first impression. Unfortunately, FCA blew it. Now it’s up to Tavares to figure out what to do with Alfa.
BTW, brands can be turned around. But an Alfa turn around at this point will take twice as long and cost twice as much than had FCA done it right the first time around. Whether Alfa is worth the investment is up to PSA now.
FWIW, Tavares has shown that he wants a premium brand in his portfolio. Whether Alfa Romeo gives him a better foundation than DS, is up to him to decide.
Alfa lacks products and good marketing. More dealers or better dealers will not come without more products. It's very simple.
That theory should really work for the Dodge brand then. Especially the more product part.
I would also argue there is almost too much choice in the market today. And BMW for example enjoys a continuous fan base (when it comes to those who love performance sedans) that Alfa just doesn't have here and that can't be built overnight. And if even BMW's 3 series sales are down and going to Tesla 3s and CUVs it is just really an uphill battle. And one has to wonder when even the auto industry CEOs seem to be confused these days where everything is going then how must consumers feel?
That is true.
However, the worrying part about Alfa Romeo sales is their trajectory: sales peaked in the first 24-30 months, and has been in double digit declines since then.
That is normally a sign that the brand relaunch spoke only to a small group of fans who had been waiting with anticipation. Once they got their fix, Alfa Romeo failed to convince anyone else.
In an ideal world, the product itself, the paid advertising, the third-party reviews and owners’ word of mouth should have worked together to help Alfa Romeo sustain sales beyond the initial push. The product and the paid ads alone are not sufficient to help a relaunched brand hit cruising altitude.
Unfortunately, without market momentum, it now becomes too expensive for FCA to sustain Alfa Romeo sales through rebates, incentives, promotions, and other activities that will now be required to prop up sales.
I always think you need to ask yourself what are you offering costumers that isn’t already offered. I think using the M3 as a benchmark was honorable but is that enough to entice regular sport sedans buyers to switch brands? Like what does a $45k Alfa offer that a 3 series does not? I don’t recall how quickly the original Lexus lineup grew. But what they got right was beating Mercedes at their own game (luxury and quality) while undercutting them by several thousands of dollars. And Audi originally differentiated itself with AWD back then. While Alfa offers Italian design that in itself was unfortunately not enough.
Yeah, struggling brands can be turned around, but at what point are there just too many brands and it becomes time to start shuttering some? As more makers enter the market from places like China, it’s only going to get more crowded, more competitive, and more difficult to obtain market share. At some point, those that can’t compete are gonna face some hard decisions. Natural selection, and all that....
It will be interesting to see how things develop, but I will note that in Indianapolis, there have been a megaton of construction projects focused on housing for Millenials, including several somewhat upscale high rise appartments on the near SE side (just inside the "Mile Square") notably the Artistry Apartments. Seems as sizable group of the kids fresh out of college these days want to live right smack-dab in the middle of the big city, and work walking-distance, not have a long commute, etc. Can't say I blame them. What remains to be seen is what the dynamic is when they get married, how long they wait to have kids, and where they want to live at that point. Of course, for the trend towards the urban to continue into parenthood, that requires more parks in some areas that didn't have a massive child population before.
I have to give Kudos to AR USA for their guerrilla marketing Giulia and Stelvio at Bimmerfest 2019, which made a big splash both at the event and in the automotive press. That was worth way more money than any ad campaign, since it got the cars into potential owner hands, and got free press.
This exactly: the driving experience that many BMW owners have been lamenting as missing in the brand that calls itself the "Ultimate Driving Machine." AR just royally screwed up the debut. I think they're on the right path now, but it's going to take consistency and effective marketing like crashing Bimmerfest 2019 to get where they need to be.
We could also add some cameo appearance in movies as well. Just imagine a good guy driving an Alfa chasing a bad guy in a BMW get an ending like that white Jaguar where the footage was used in various British tv series like the Saint, the Baron, the Champions, Department S, the Adventurer, the Persuaders, etc...and even used for a SNL skit titled Toonces the driving cat.
But here is my worry. Why don’t BMWs drive like they used to? Because they softened them to widen their audience. Most buyers seem to buy them for image to sit in traffic on the 405. Looking up their production numbers it shows 1.1M for 2005 and 2.1M for 2017. And when they established their reputation in the seventies and eighties I assume they made even a lot less vehicles. It seems at 2M BMW is still worried about their future. Now I get it that Alfa is only a part of FCA and doesn’t need to sell 2M units. Would it be enough if they captured all the driving enthusiasts that would have bought BMWs in the eighties? I guess that is the question...
Well, there are quite a few more affluent drivers in 2020, forty years later, especially given the expansion of the auto industry in places like China and India.
Lexus positioned itself as offering comparable luxury and comfort to Mercedes-Benz, while offering superior levels of reliability, fit-and-finish and customer service; all for less money. Back in those days, only the rich dressed in suits dared enter Mercedes and BMW dealerships; everyone else was stared down in disdain. Lexus redefined luxury by making it more approachable, and delivering unheard-of levels of customer service. As a result, Lexus tore down the walls that had existed around traditional definitions of luxury, and was rewarded with the loyalty of the Boomer generation. Lexus was the top luxury seller from the 1990s through the 2000s, and has remained a Top 3 seller for most of the past 30 years.
Since then, most luxury competitors have closed the lead Lexus enjoyed in fit-and-finish and customer service, and the Europeans in particular, have left the Japanese behind in product design and performance.
By comparison, the Alfa Romeo relaunch didn’t offer anything so revolutionary. Besides, just like with the Fiat relaunch, FCA chose to pretend any lingering doubts about Italian quality simply didn’t exist. The moment the media started reporting miscellaneous quality issues, it reminded everyone, however fairly or not, about the elephant in the room, undermining FCA’s efforts to establish Alfa Romeo’s return on solid footing.
I’d lump all paid marketing together, including cameo appearances. Product placement in movies, TV shows and special events comes from the same pockets that pay for traditional advertising, online advertising, guerrilla marketing, and everything else.
My point is, besides the factory-sponsored marketing, FCA needed Alfa Romeo to gain momentum of its own by generating positive word-of-mouth on the market.
Just like positive perceptions of “German engineering” fairly or unfairly benefit Audi, BMW and Mercedes, fairly or unfairly Italian automakers get penalized with the opposite. Ultimately, developing a launch strategy that pretends the problem doesn’t exist is not a formula for success.