Alfa Romeo, the Italian brand that's not seducing the Chinese

Alfa Romeo Shanghai dealership

For carmakers, China is a very important market thanks to its broad customer base, including luxury goods (Ferrari doubled its sales there in the first half of 2023), but some brands are struggling... in particular Alfa Romeo.

Since the launch of the Giulia and then the Stelvio, the brand has been trying to break into this promising market. To date, it has been unsuccessful. However, if you listen to the brand's latest press release.., the Chinese market is strategic, with an increase of +35% in the first half of 2023 for the Giulia sedan.


In reality, if you look at Alfa Romeo's sales figures on the Chinese market (difficult to obtain...), it's not glorious.

YearAlfa Romeo sales China

However, the Italian brand was growing until 2020, the year of the COVID. Since then, sales have plummeted. It has to be said that the brand runs on 2 models only...


But scrolling through the Chinese social network Weibo, here's what stands out about the Alfa Romeo brand as seen from China.

Alfa Romeo is a sporty, elegant Italian car brand. But in China, it is unable to compete with brands such as BMW, Audi or Mercedes, which are well established.


The Giulia, Alfa Romeo's flagship model, is more powerful than its direct competitors: the BMW serie 3, the Mercedes-Benz C and the Audi A4. But it's also smaller and less prestigious. Chinese consumers are looking for spacious, comfortable and imposing cars that reflect their social status.

That's why they prefer longer versions of the the Audi A7. Alfa Romeo failed to adapt to this demand, even though it had planned to launch LWB (long wheel base) versions of its models, but never did.


In addition to this size problem, Alfa Romeo suffers from a lack of brand awareness, too high a price, insufficient after-sales service and expensive spare parts. Faced with competition from emerging Chinese brands that also know how to make premium cars, popular foreign brands and more accessible premium brands, Alfa Romeo is losing more and more market share.

The most obvious solution would be to lower prices, but would that be enough?


Alfa Romeo emphasizes sportiness to Chinese customers, but this is not a determining factor for most buyers. They don't take their cars to the track every day.

For Alfa Romeo brand director Jean-Philippe Imparato, the Chinese market remains a strategic one. The first new dealership dedicated to the brand opened in Shanghai in December 2022. And, according to the latest statements on site, the future Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Giulia will be more suited to the Chinese market.



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  1. Alexandre, you're going to have to find out about the latest German sales in China, and apart from Mercedes, which is managing to hold its own thanks to the extended S and E, the rest, led by Audi and Porsche, is a total mess, and BMW is no better. The Chinese increasingly prefer to buy their own vehicles since the Covid and find the generalists (including Prenium) totally Has-been.
    A few months ago, the VAG group went there to try and stem the catastrophe with billions of dollars, but nothing was done and they were forced to buy Chinese platforms to make their electric cars. It's a bad situation.

    • It's possible. I've already had a lot of trouble getting Alfa Romeo's figures, so I based my hypothesis on testimonials from Chinese customers. If you have the figures for German premium cars in China over the last few years, you can share them and I'll add them to the article. Apart from this point, the data on Alfa Romeo is normally accurate.

      • For Les allemandes we'll be looking for that.
        For Alfa in China, it's quite possible, and there's another world of countries in Europe that hardly buy Alfa at all, because their cars are too sporty (BMW was one of them, too).

  2. Potential customers in China's premium sector want longer cars to offer plenty of room in the back, but they're also a target group largely made up of the nouveau-rich, with no car culture and a taste for ostentatious luxury. Everything that Alfa Romeo is not. If I dared, I'd say that China rivals Germany in the contest for the worst taste. I don't know whether I find it more abominable to cover GTi seats with bland tartan fabric or the tons of chrome adorning the grille of a Chery Explorer... I think it's going to be very complicated for Alfa to satisfy the expectations of European customers - starting with the Italian, the only one the brand can still count on, isn't that right Mr. Imparato - and those of the Chinese. Imparato - and that of the Chinese, who will soon want a 55-inch TV between the two front seats...

    • Having said that, it seems that the future Giulia will be longer, perhaps to cover the D and E segments with a single model. I'm not sure this will change anything for the brand's fortunes in China... Formula 1 may help if a partner can be found, and I think it's the only chance.

  3. No, because there's no point in making the Giulia bigger, because then you'd have to offer 2 sizes in a row. The range lacked a vehicle positioned above the Maserati Ghibli with 2 sizes and the same kind of range at Lancia as Alfa in luxury and 4WD versions. as should have been offered on the Quattroporte.
    This is what they lacked in China 🇨🇳
    Otherwise, it's a lost cause, and the same goes for SUVs.
    It's a tradition that goes back ages.
    Only BMW and Mercedes have understood this.

    • I find it hard to see the point of selling two sizes of a model, one of which is of no interest to anyone... You only need to sell the long version in China, and maybe it will be the same in the rest of the world. For the range above, you might as well sell Maseratis with shared showrooms. But as I said, for the Chinese, Maserati or Zeekr, it's all the same. If they're interested in learning about the history of the sports car and the Italian luxury industry (which they probably aren't), we'll see Zeekr cars on the road... Maybe we should wait for them in Modena. But we'd still have to speak to them in Chinese, because that's not the case here. Likewise, you'd have to speak Chinese at Alfa's historic center in Milan...

      • That's the way it's always been, and in the corporate world, for example, executives buy the normal models and bosses the long versions that make all the difference.
        Mercedes and BMW have understood this, and that's why they're here to stay.
        The VAG group, PSA, Toyota (excluding Lexus), Honda, Ford and GM didn't want to hear about it, and followed Alfa's example of not wanting to adapt to the market. China has evolved over the past 20 years, and it's time to take notice.
        The Ghibli and Quattroporte 5 & 6 were a hit in... Japan, but not in China, because they lacked this version, which is also lacking everywhere else in the world, to serve as an official car, given that they all came out in armored versions, originally adapted for it. It's a pity they haven't done this before, especially in view of the regular and constant demand. This is a market that Maserati can't afford to miss out on, nor can Lancia, DS or Chrysler.
        In Italy's main brand museums, they speak Chinese. Just ask for someone to talk to. I've already done this several times for customers of different nationalities.

      • Zeerk doesn't come from just anywhere or anyone, because it's a Geely brand that has grown phenomenally and remains virtually China's international automotive heavyweight.
        This group no longer has anything to envy the Western groups, having Volvo and Lotus as well as Polestar, which are not newcomers to the world market and have a history too. If it applies the same method as Toyota for Lexus or Hyundai for Genesis, the Westerners have a lot to worry about, because VAG, for example, is heavily dependent on China 🇨🇳 and if sales stop there... their group will collapse, as happened to PSA and the Middle East.
        For Maserati, Lancia, DS and Chrysler to function properly in China, they have to make cars that are attached to their mentality and do what Ford did in the 60s, 70s and 80s... have several entities within the same brand and a service department worthy of the name.
        Alfa Romeo is not a Chinese brand and never will be.
        Better to target other countries like Russia, India and others.

        • Zeekr was invented in 2021 by the marketing department of a multinational company producing models that could just as easily be called Zeekr or Lynk&Co - with the same design, in fact, so why bother... Tomorrow, it could disappear like Gleagle or Emgrand, two "brands" from a group that creates them by the dozen (most recently "Galaxy") and that will have had 5 years to live. Clearly, these brands with no history and above all no soul have everything to envy the pioneers of the sports car, the Maseratis, Ferraris, Alfa Romeos... They'll never have the photos with Fangio or Enzo Ferrari, which explains why Alfa can produce a few dozen 33 Stradales costing several million euros in 2023, already sold out before they're even produced, as customers buy a piece of history from a brand celebrating its centenary. We've come to the same conclusions: China doesn't understand car passion, it doesn't know why the French race in blue, the Germans in white, the British in green and the Italians in red. I think we need to concentrate on Europe, the USA and the Middle East, and sell at a very high price in China to attract the very rich (but preferably with a sign on the car indicating its price).

          • The problem, Fredo, is that you won't sell any more Giulias (although there's less of a problem with the Stelvio). Products are tied to markets, not the other way around, and Mercedes and BMW have understood this, and Maserati, Lancia, DS, Chrysler, must apply the same method.
            Who would have put a penny on Lexus, Hyundai, Kia, Genesis a few years ago? I don't, and yet they're at the top of their game, applying the same method: reliability, attractive products and top-notch after-sales service.
            History isn't everything if you don't do everything to be at the top of the bill.

          • The problem, Fredo, is that you won't sell more Giulias because of their non-customizable size (less of a problem with the Stelvio, though). Products are tied to markets, not the other way around. Mercedes and BMW have understood this (less so Audi, while VAG is rushing into The basic generalist.... and sinking). Maserati, Lancia, DS, Chrysler, must apply the same method as Mercedes and BMW and understand the luxury and high-tech market that is China.
            Who would have put a penny on Lexus, Hyundai, Kia, Genesis a few years ago? Nobody, and yet they're at the head of the class, applying the same method: reliability, attractive products and top-notch after-sales service.
            History isn't everything if you don't do what it takes to be at the top of the bill.
            This is the market where Lancia, DS and Chrysler have a card to play with Italian, French and American-style luxury, without waiting for sky-high sales.

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