Forget the Milano EV – Alfa Romeo changes name to something non-Italian-sounding

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The ongoing tensions between Italy and Alfa Romeo’s parent company Stellantis reached a head last week when the Italian government told the automaker that naming its upcoming Alfa Romeo EV the Milano was against the law because the car will be built in Poland. So now Alfa Romeo has decided to change the name to something that won’t evoke any feelings of la dolce vita or desire for delicious Pepperidge Farm cookies, or any emotions at all for that matter. Besides total blandness.

This afternoon, Alfa Romeo made the call to avoid the hassles and just change the name of its first EV to the very safe and neutral-sounding Junior after “a confrontation with officials from the Industry and Made in Italy Ministry” last Friday, Automotive News Europe reports. Things must have gotten a bit hairy. 

Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato said in a news conference today that the company tried to explain why keeping the name Milano was fair play for a list of reasons, one of them being that the car was designed in Italy, but decided the headache was just too much. So, the Junior it is.

“When you move into political discussions, you immediately lose half of your buyers and we wanted to prevent this,” Imparato said, according to Automotive News Europe.

This whole name drama started last week when Italy’s industry minister Adolfo Urso slammed Stellantis for the decision to build the EV at the company’s Tychy plant in Poland, saying if it’s not made in Italy, it doesn’t get to carry an Italian-sounding name, citing false advertising.

“A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is forbidden by Italian law,” he said, referring to 2003 law that says it is illegal to falsely present a foreign-made product as coming from Italy, but has typically been invoked against food products, such as forbidding a US-made “Parmigiano Reggiano” cheese.

In any case, this won’t be the first time the Junior has been used by Alfa Romeo, which was used on a version of the 105 series coupe and a limited-run sports coupe from the 1970s. It was also on the short list of potential names before Milano rose to the top.

The rationale for building the vehicle outside of Italy – which will be Alfa Romeo’s first car made outside of Italy – is purely financial.

“If built in Italy, a Milano would have started from about €40,000 instead of €30,000, limiting its potential on the marketplace,” Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said last week in Milan, according to the report.

Of course, plenty of vehicles bear names of cities that have no connection whatsoever to their production sites (Kia Sorento and Rio, Hyundai Santa Fe and Tucson, Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Malibu, etc.), but this issue is more about Italy vs. Stellantis than anything else.

For months, Tavares has been at odds with the Italian government for what he says is its lack of support in EV adoption and not backing home-grown brands Fiat and Alfa Romeo.

Italy’s populist Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has in turn criticized Stellantis for moving its production to lower-cost countries, pushing Italian workers out of the fray, as the auto industry struggles to adapt to EVs. She has also been focused on seeing more vehicles produced in Italy and targeting Stellantis, its only major automaker, for that mission, but has accused Stellantis of being subservient to French interests over Italian jobs and production – that whole subject is another political ball of wax.

Stellantis has said that at this early stage of the game, any damaging effects of a name change will be negligible.

Photo: Stellantis


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