Alfa Romeo changes name of new ‘Milano’ model to ease tensions with Italy

By Thomson Reuters Apr 15, 2024 | 11:06 AM

MILAN (Reuters) – Stellantis-brand Alfa Romeo said on Monday it would change the name of its new “Milano” to “Junior” to end a row with Italy’s government, which last week criticised the choice of an Italian name for a vehicle made in Poland.

“Although we think the ‘Milano’ name met all legal requirements, we took the decision to change it to ‘Junior’ to ease relations with the Italian government,” Alfa Romeo’s CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato said in a press conference.

On Thursday, a day after Alfa Romeo’s first EV was officially launched in Milan, Italy’s Industry Minister Adolfo Urso said its name violated an Italian law that targets “Italian sounding” products that falsely claim to be Italian.

“Milano” was meant to be a tribute to the northern Italian city where Alfa Romeo was founded in 1910. The “Junior” name also references the Italian brand’s history, as it evokes one of its successful models from the 1960s.

Imparato said the group had not been happy to find itself drawn into the quarrel, but was now completely focusing on the commercial launch of the new model, which is built at the Tychy plant alongside other Fiat and Jeep models.

“For us, the issue was closed this evening,” he said.

He noted that the “Milano” name had been disclosed in December, and the decision to produce the car in Poland had been public for a long time.

“The government just could have moved this criticism before, not the day after the launch,” Imparato said.

Urso’s complaint was the latest in a war of words between Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s nationalist government and Stellantis, as the two sides hold talks on a plan to boost domestic auto production to one million units.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares was quoted by Automotive News last week as saying that producing the “Milano” in Poland rather than Italy will shave 10,000 euros off its retail price, which starts at under 30,000 euros ($32,000) for its cheaper hybrid version.

($1 = 0.9399 euros)

(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari, editing by Alvise Armellini and David Evans)