Alfa Romeo is set to join the growing list of automotive brands going all-electric.
In fact, it will become one of the first Stellantis brands to drop the use of internal combustion engines, starting in 2027, with sibling marques Opel, DS, Fiat and Lancia to soon follow, company officials revealed. More broadly, other brands including Bentley, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have laid out roadmaps to take them towards an all-electric future, with still others expected to follow.
The news about Alfa is surprising for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that the Italian brand doesn’t even make a hybrid yet, never mind a pure battery-electric vehicle. Its first electrified offering, a plug-in hybrid version of the upcoming Tonale SUV was supposed to reach market this year but has been pushed back until 2022, at the earliest.
A corporate-wide transformation
On July 8, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares and other senior executives laid out a broad strategy shifting the company away from gas and diesel and toward various forms of battery technology. The lengthy “Battery Day” event focused on just a fraction of the 14 brands operated by Stellantis, the world’s fourth-largest automaker.
Confirming an earlier report by TheDetroitBureau.com, officials revealed Dodge would get an electric muscle car, planned to be its fastest model ever. Opel and Fiat would go all-electric, they confirmed, while stressing that all of those 14 brands would begin migrating towards zero-emission technologies at varying paces. But specifics were left out for some key brands, notably Alfa Romeo.
Known for its sleek, sporty products, Alfa was long a minor brand in the automotive universe. But, under the leadership of former CEO Sergio Marchionne, it took on an increasingly significant role after the merger of Fiat and Chrysler a decade ago. If anything, it was expected to become one of the most important brands in the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sphere — though products like the Giulia sedan have so far failed to meet sales expectations.
Barely a month before his July 2018 death, Marchionne outlined a broad strategy for Alfa that was to have included several hybrid models. That product program has gone through a number of changes already, and will be further upended now that the brand is part of Stellantis.
Tonale SUV will lead the way
The first step in the new plan will come with the arrival of the Tonale which now is expected to reach showrooms early next year. It reportedly was delayed by new Alfa CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato who didn’t think the sub-Stelvio crossover’s plug-in hybrid drive delivered the sort of performance expected of the brand.
The Tonale will share underpinnings with the Jeep Compass, albeit modified to fit Alfa’s more sporty manners. Expect to see it deliver on the order of 300 horsepower, according to various sources, and up to 30 miles all-electric range.
While the crossover will become Alfa’s first electrified offering, it may also be one of, if not the last model to use a conventional platform.
Alfa won’t be alone
Going forward, Stellantis is developing four skateboard-like platforms for its battery-electric vehicles, including the STLA architecture that will underpin battery-powered replacements for products like today’s Giulia sedan and midsize Stelvio SUV.
Those platforms — which will have batteries, motors and other powertrain components mounted below the load floor — will be flexible enough to accommodate the very different driving characteristics of brands as diverse as Opel, Jeep, Ram and Alfa Romeo, Stellantis officials promise.
The transition to electric will come quickly for much of the company, Opel will drop internal combustion engines in Europe by 2028, though it will only offer BEVs when it launches in China in the next year or two. Lancia and DS will launch only battery-electric vehicles by mid-decade, though it will take a few years before they phase out their old gas and diesel models. Fiat has been vague about specifics but is expected to transition to a BEV-exclusive approach somewhere between 2025 and 2030.