Alfa Romeo will kill off its multi-billion euro Giorgio vehicle platform, just months after joining the Stellantis Group, because the Italian automaker never future-proofed it for electrification.
The Giorgio architecture, developed at great expense and with tremendous fanfare on the orders of the late Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) boss Sergio Marchionne, was originally earmarked to be used by 15 models.
It was only ever used for two: the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan and the Stelvio SUV.
While its planned end is jarring for Alfa Romeo fans, it should come as no surprise.
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares insisted on April 15 that the Group’s 14 brands would only use four platforms and that they were all electrified, which effectively ruled out the Giorgio base.
During a round table with Italian journalists this week, new Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato insisted all future Alfa Romeo models would use the Group’s STLA large-vehicle architecture instead of the Giorgio.
That same STLA architecture will host future Maserati sedans and SUVs, too, including replacements for the current Ghibli and Levante.
“We are working on the Large platform of Stellantis and we will no longer use the Giorgio,” Imparato admitted.
“We must take advantage of the volumes to take all possible opportunities and bring an EV range to Alfa Romeo, but always with the touch of Alfa Romeo.”
Stellantis has already shaken up Alfa Romeo by replacing its design head, Daniele Calonaci, with Spaniard Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos.
Mesonero-Romanos is fresh off a short stint as the design head of Renault’s budget Dacia brand, and before that he headed up design for the Volkswagen Group’s Spanish offshoot, Seat, and its Cupra EV spinoff. Calonaci will continue as head of Jeep design in Europe.
In the round table with Italian journalists, Imparato was quick insist the Giorgio platform wouldn’t be abandoned. It would instead be integrated into Stellantis’s four-platform architecture system, albeit in a heavily modified form, in an admission that it struggled with anything more than mid-sized cars.
It’s not the first reality check Imparato has given Alfa Romeo’s engineers this month, either.
He also kyboshed release plans for the compact Tonale SUV, to rival the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3, because he felt its plug-in hybrid performance wasn’t good enough.
“The Tonale is Alfa Romeo’s first electrified car, so we have to do a very high level job,” Imparato said.
“When you see that Europe imposes a -60% CO2 on you in 2030, if you are not electrified you are dead.
“With Stellantis we have the advantage of providing the Tonale with some technological updates, so I decided we had to update the PHEV immediately.”
The former Peugeot head arrived in Turin, Italy, just hours after being offered the job by Stellantis chief Carlos Tavares.
“When you are at Peugeot, which collects billions of euros a year, you don’t go to Alfa Romeo for career reasons. You do it personally, for reasons of passion,” Imparato said.
His first two stops in Italy were its Arese Alfa Romeo museum and its two factories.
All future Alfa Romeos will be electrified, with either full battery electric or plug-in hybrid powertrains. The Giorgio architecture was designed to go head-to-head with the BMW 3-Series for handling, but was never engineered for electrification, despite arriving on the scene just six years ago.
It was also supposed to be the centerpiece of an eight-car, 400,000 annual sales, comeback assault by Alfa Romeo, targeting BMW, Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz, which Imparato tacitly mocked.
“The thing that struck me when I arrived at Alfa Romeo is the level of global awareness: potentially it is the global premium brand of Stellantis, it is a brand known in Europe, North America and also in China.
“The thing that I think needs to be fixed is that we don’t have to change strategy every day: we need stability.
“What we are doing is putting a plan on track over ten years, with the (projects of) the first five years planned, planned, validated and financed. Once this is done we do not change.
“After the Tonale we will do a progressive, annual presentation of the product plan, including the full electrification of the range, but I don’t want to present a five-year plan now because I don’t want to make promises that may not be kept,” he said.
It has still come as a shock to the Alfa Romeo fanbase and its own engineers, who thought highly of it and regarded it as a point of pride.
Former Alfa Romeo boss Reid Bigland called the architecture a “jewel” and insisted it was “best in class” in driving dynamics.
“The investment in Alfa Romeo and certainly the technical investment in the architecture was something that was designed to benefit more than Alfa,” Marchionne said at the time.
“I’m happy that we have finally found clarity of thought in the extension of these architectures well beyond Alfa.”
The Giorgio was also slated to sit beneath Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and even Maserati models, including the 300C, the Challenger, the Charger, the Journey, the Durango and even the Jeep Cherokee and Compass replacements.
But it became yet another unfulfilled Alfa Romeo promise .