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Alfa Romeo website crashes after ‘Milan’ name conflict

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Alfa Romeo website crashes after ‘Milan’ name conflict


They say that any publicity is good publicity. This is true in the case of Alfa Romeo’s new crossover. The company’s CEO, Jean-Philippe Imparato, said the website crashed following the controversy surrounding the name chosen for the company’s first electric vehicle: “We had an unprecedented number of visits on the online configurator, causing the website to crash for a few hours.”

It was supposed to be called Milan, but the Italian authorities were not happy with this name. The smaller Alfa will not be manufactured in Milan but rather in Poland, at the Tychy plant, where sister models Jeep Avenger and Fiat 600 are also built. The Ministry of Business and Made in Italy has criticized Alfa Romeo for having chose Milan for a product made almost 800 miles away in another country.

The opposition expressed by the Italian government came just after the presentation of Milano on April 10. However, Alfa Romeo announced the model name on December 13, 2023. It is unclear whether the automaker was internally informed of the problematic nickname during those four months. It could be argued that the company’s legal team should have been aware of the potential negative consequences of the chosen name. Reuters quotes Italian Industry Minister Adolfo Urso as saying:

“A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is prohibited by Italian law. This law states that you cannot give indications that mislead consumers. A car called Milano must therefore be produced in Italy Otherwise, it gives a misleading indication which is not authorized by Italian law.

The boss of Alfa Romeo does not agree: “We have decided to change our name, even though we know that we are not obliged to do so because we want to preserve the positive emotion that our products have always aroused and avoid any type of controversy.”

Since production of the new Milano has not yet started, Imparato told a conference that the financial impact of the name change is minimal. He went on to mention that only a few marketing materials will need to be updated to reflect the move to Junior. Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said last week that the crossover would have cost nearly $11,000 more if it had been made in Italy rather than Poland.

The name change is not unprecedented. In 2009, Alfa Romeo had initially planned to use Milano for the 147 replacement. However, this was not supposed to be the case either as Giulietta was ultimately used instead. Automotive News reported at the time that the decision to rename the car was made at the last minute. Although embargoed materials had already been sent to the media with photos of the Milano-branded sedan, magazines were asked not to publish them. For what? Due to “organizational issues”.

The reasoning put forward by Alfa Romeo was rather vague. The problem did not come from something bureaucratic as is currently the case, but from a conflict between the Italian car manufacturer and the workers in this region. Parent company Fiat has decided to relocate designers and engineers from Milan to Turin to “increase efficiency and reduce costs”.

To prevent the current divide from worsening even further, the Alfa Romeo Milano became the Giulietta when it was presented on December 5, 2009. The original plan was to show the Volkswagen Golf rival a few days before, on November 30 .

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