ALFA ROMEO will show the sexy Ford Focus-rivalling Giulietta in public for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
It’s a make-or-break car. Lordy, how many times have we heard that before?
Thing is, how many times has it been proven right..?
Fiat Group boss Sergio Marchionne has already gone on record to say Alfa Romeo is currently not cutting the mustard. It’s the weakest brand in the giant Fiat Group portfolio – and, when you consider that also includes Chrysler and Lancia, it’s quite a dubious honour to hold.
Alfa Romeo is unbowed, though. It’s going to take its final chance and damn well make the most of it – with a product-led recovery that will be centred around the Giulietta.
But can Alfa do it? My mind shifts back to another ill-judged pronouncement of leadership intent to drive the PR guys up the wall. Yes, Bernd Pischetsrieder, on the eve of the Rover 75 launch at the British Motor Show back in 1998.
Forget the car, muses Keith Adams on the brilliant AROnline: Bernd ensured that, with pronouncements such as ‘short-term actions are required for the long-term future of the Rover Group,’ the chat of the launch was not of 75, but of the health of the firm building it.
So recounted motoring writer good guy Steve Cropley to Adams; ‘…we were all a bit stunned,’ he said, ‘both by the content and timing of what Bernd Pischetsrieder said. We had all been feeling pretty enthusiastic about the 75 and the unveiling had gone well… it seemed bizarre, even grotesque, that the company’s top man should choose to undermine the moment so thoroughly.
‘He deflected the media from praising the car the way they would naturally have done, deflated the workforce who must have been on a high, and introduced a degree of buyer uncertainty that could have been avoided.’ No wonder the reaction in the firm was one of gobsmacked amazement.
Shoot forward a decade and a bit, to the Giulietta, to Marchionne saying ‘Alfa has been underperforming for some time’ and ‘it’s our problem’ and we ‘have to rethink our objectives and be realistic with ourselves,’ to cue many pairs of eyes on Alfa in Geneva.
Will he complete his ‘doing a Bernd’ in Geneva? I’ll join the throngs during the Press Conference next month and find out…
[Source: Richard Aucock]