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Harald Wester: “June 24th will be a milestone”

19 June 2015 17:44 4 comments

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The Dutch magazine Autovisie has published an interview with Harald Wester in its latest edition that came out today. The main subject was the Giulia – what else? – and how important this model actually is for the brand Alfa Romeo. The CEO of Maserati and Alfa Romeo also addressed where it all went wrong in the past.

“We want to make our dealerships and all Alfisti around the world happy. Those people aren’t enough though. More Alfas need to be sold and we therefore need to attract a new audience as well. But it’s wonderful to know that so many people still love Alfa Romeo and have stood by the brand through these rough last years. These people their support is unconditional”, says Wester.

“We need to be tough on ourselves and admit that it all went horribly wrong back in 1986 when Alfa ended up in the hands of Fiat. Looking for economies of scale and synergies is a good thing, but the management completely forgot about Alfa Romeo’s heritage at the time and what it stood for. They lacked vision. The 159, for example, was a result of the partnership between GM and Fiat and was pretty much a mess. It was an enormous investment in a model that was not at all state-of-the-art.”

“Now we have started from scratch. You might wonder why we didn’t do so ten years ago, but keep in mind that we were on the verge of bankruptcy back then. I am convinced that our German colleagues were already discussing which Italian brand would be taken over by whom back in 2004-2005. Even Fiat was in trouble. General Motors paid big money back then to not be obliged to take over Fiat. Those two billion euros were a good deal, as we had no money at the time to develop new products. Fiat and Lancia in particular were entirely dependent of the Italian market; none of the two did very well abroad. Alfa Romeo was the entire opposite as the 145 and 147 sold better outside of Italy than inside. Alfa Romeo’s sole purpose was to survive at that moment because there simply wasn’t any money to invest.”

Wester appoints North-America as the most important market for Alfa Romeo in the future. He estimates some 40% of total production will be sold in the US in 2018. China should account for a quarter of the sales, leaving some 35% or 140.000 for Europe out of the 400.000 units they hope to sell globally in 2019. “We have done nothing but keeping Alfa alive in recent years. Of course the brand has suffered because of this, but the best thing we have done is say no to all those who wished to buy the brand. And there were many of them; don’t think that VAG were the only ones. Even now there are still manufacturers that are interested.”

“It is said that we will be using a Chrysler-platform for our new model, but that’s complete rubbish. We have an entirely new structure ready. In this one model we will bring an entirely new chassis, a new design language and brand new engines and transmissions. The 24th of June will be a milestone so vital in Alfa’s history that only a few of these moments have occurred in the brand’s 105-year existence. We will have to focus on models that can be sold worldwide though. A Stationwagon is typically European and for now we will use our funds for products that will sell globally only. A wagon will join the range in the future, but only once we’ve established ourselves firmly into the market place again.”

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4 Comments »

  1. Sean Russell says:

    This welcomed news to hear from Harald Wester. It gives me chills to know that he “gets it” and understands the problems of the past and the potential of the future. As an American Alfista I am happy to sell Alfa Romeo and will do my part in this grand plan. Viva Alfa Romeo.

  2. Tom Jack says:

    Such great and welcome news after many years fearing we would loose our beloved Alfa Romeo.
    We hope this is the start of many big and successful projects for the brand and for FCA. Can’t wait to see the new cars and see Alfa where it belongs. Long live the legend and thanks to all involved in the resurgence of Alfa.

  3. How was the 159 not state of the art in the early 2000’s when designed? Yes the petrol V6 could have been better.

  4. Nisipasu Tiberiu says:

    I saw the Viasat Explore movie with the design & manufacturing of the ALFA Romeo 4C.It was incredible how many hours stayed the CEO,i.e. Mr. Harald Wester in the production shops,trying to catch all the potential defects of the vehicles.What can I say more about this German legend working in the famous Alfa Romeo:Happy Anniversary when he will reach 60 years old & booming sales for Alfa Romeo Giulia,4C & Maserati Levante……

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