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Detroit Auto Show 2017
Reid Bigland wants Alfa Romeo to be more than a niche brandWe talk with the head of the Italian brand to get the skinny.
Hey, everyone. It's Emme Hall here at the North American International Auto Show, better known as the Detroit Auto Show, and I am at the Alfa booth with Reid Bigland. He is the head grand cheese, the big fromage, over at Alfa and Maserati. Now, okay, I have to ask you and please do not take offense to this. But you built the 4C Yes. Can you fit in a 4C? You're kind of a wide guy. [LAUGH] [LAUGH] I can fit in a 4C. We brought that to the US market here about a year ago, and what a great car that is. Carbon fiber chassis, aluminum subframes, mid-engine setup. Truly a super car setup, and I can fit in the 4C and I can get out of the 4C as well. You're right, that is paramount. You can get in and you can get out. Getting in is easier than getting out, yeah. So the [UNKNOWN] has been on the market for a while, the Giulia is coming on the market. But you guys haven't sold more than 100 units of either car in a whole month. But they're so beautiful, and they're so well received by the automotive community. So what are your plans to really **** that piece of the market that frankly, Alfa really does deserve. Well here we go with the Giulia. And the Giulia, we feel, sets an entirely new benchmark. For the premium-performance sedan market, when you look at the Giulia at the top end. 505 twin turbo, Ferrari-drived engine, 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds, 191 miles per hour top speed, and the fastest four-door production sedan in the world. And even though that premium midsized sedan is under a little bit of pressure, it's still the largest premium segment in the country representing right around 22% of the total market. So now we're entering into the market, leaving some of the niche segment that the 4C was competing in off to the side. And then we've got the Julia's big brother that'll be here mid this year. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio, we did that reveal at the Los Angeles Auto Show just in November, and it too has great bones. And we're confident that you're gonna be looking at the fastest midsize SUV in the world as well. So now you guys have the SUV, you've got your sedan, you've got your little niche sports car. What else do you feel that you need as an Alfa Romeo manufacturer, what else to you feel that you need to really compete in the market? Well this is pretty good right now. And when you think about the two segments, the mid-size SUV segment and the mid-size car segment, represents a little bit over 40% of the total premium market in the United States. So we're running up the gut with the number one, the first largest and the second largest segments. No one else wants to make today, but we will continue to round out the Alfa Romeo product portfolio over the next few years. But right now let's stay focused on getting the Julian to market. We want really 100 cars in December to qudrapolio version and here we are beginning of January. By the end of the month We'll have about 1,000 Giulias starting to hit the marketplace and then we'll go from there. I can't wait to see one in the wild. I so can't wait to see one in the wild. Me too. [LAUGH] So unfortunately though, Alfa has a little bit of a reputation as not having the best reliability and STA lately has just been hammered with reliability issues. What do you plan to do to make sure that Americans know, hey, this is a brand that you can count on? Well I do believe the car should have been in market about six months ago, the Julia. But we understand the fact that the car has to be right. You never have that second chance to make a positive first impression. We feel the Julia is bullet-proof. And in this day and age, you know quality is a minimum expectation that all cars have great quality. The Julia has great quality. And when you talk about the reputation of El Formal, it certainly has a reputation. [LAUGH] It's a 105-year legacy with Alpha Rameo. Hey we've had some great Alphas over the years. We've had few Alphas that we would rather forget about. But the Julia really is the combination Of an all new platform and all of the greatest technology that exists within FCA, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati, and Ferrari to a certain extent, coming to bear on this product. So Alfa is very much an emotional brand, right? You look at the cars and it brings something into your heart. But now we've got all these technology and autonomy that really as much more if gonna motion were often time and all this autonomy and technology really kind of cold, how do you guys plan to bridge that gap? Well when you think about auto it is first and for most a driver's car it is a car that is truly meant to be driven not you have the car drive. And there is a lot of emotion and a lot of passion over the years with all Italian vehicles, be it Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini. I've often said if you think about the Germans, the Germans make and the Italians create. The Italians are filled with emotion and filled with passion, and that's one of the differentiators, I feel, of the Italian sports cars in the marketplace. But the technology in the Alpha Romeo is truly state of the art from the entertainment prospective. But really from the power train, the driving dynamic, the setup of the car as I previously mentioned. It's really a cut above, the technology in the chassis and in the performance of the vehicle is really were the type of technology is And this autonomous driving movement, I think commoditized type vehicles are gonna be a little bit vulnerable. But 505 horsepower, 191 mile per hour top seed Alfa Romeo, that's a car that is meant to be driven. yeah. I don't want anyone to drive that except for me. [CROSSTALK] You wanna drive that yourself. I would like to So let's go put some winter tires on these guys and we'll go out and have a little bit of fun out here in Detroit [LAUGH]. Put some winter tires and it also comes in all-wheel drive, so you're gonna be a little bit more planted. But in Detroit, winter tires and all-wheel drive is probably your ticket this time of year.