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The Street
The Street
James Ochoa

Italian government pressure forces Alfa Romeo to change the name of its EV

In response to the pressure imposed by its native government, Italian luxury marque Alfa Romeo announced that it will be changing the name of a car it recently unveiled.

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The then-called Alfa Romeo Milano


In an statement released on April 15, Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato announced that the name of its recently revealed Milano will go by the name 'Junior,' in a move that Stellantis  (STLA)  calls "in the spirit of promoting mutual understanding."

"We decided to change the name, even though we know that we are not required to do so, because we want to preserve the positive emotion that our products have always generated and avoid any type of controversy," Imparato said.

Additionally, he indicated that the "name controversy" generated quite the buzz for Alfa Romeo, as the curious were keen to see what all the fuss was about.

"The attention to our new sports compact that we’ve received the past few days is quite exciting as we had an unprecedented number of visits to the online configurator, causing the website to crash for a couple hours."

It's all in a name, until the government says so:

The renamed Alfa Romeo Junior


The Stellantis-owned brand on April 10 revealed what it then called the Milano — a stylish, subcompact crossover SUV that is also offered with an electric powertrain, the brand's first EV. 

According to Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, Alfa Romeo would be building the compact cruiser at the Stellantis plant in Tychy, Poland in order to keep the car competitively priced. 

"If built in Italy, a Milano would have started from about €40,000 (about $43,000) instead of €30,000 (about $32,000), limiting its potential on the marketplace,” Tavares said during the event.

Adolfo Urso, Italy's business minister, during a trilateral meeting in Meudon, France, on April 8, 2024.

Bloomberg/Getty Images

This revelation angered Italian government officials, namely Italian industry minister Adolfo Urso, who argued that assembling a car that Alfa Romeo dare call a 'Milano' outside the borders of Italy would violate Italian law.

“A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is forbidden by Italian law,” Urso said, referring to 2003 legislation that targets “Italian sounding” products that falsely claim to be Italian.

“This law stipulates that you cannot give indications that mislead consumers. So a car called Milano must be produced in Italy. Otherwise, it gives a misleading indication which is not allowed under Italian law.”

More Business of EVs:

Alfa Romeo GT 1300 junior. 1970. (Photo by: Touring Club Italiano/Marka/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Marka/Getty Images

Despite the former name 'Milano' being a tribute to Alfa Romeo's hometown of Milan, the new name 'Junior' is a beloved nameplate of the Italian brand's past. 

According to Alfa Romeo, the name pays homage to the GT 1300 Junior sports coupe of the 1960's. Produced from 1965 to 1977, the original Junior was a way for young buyers to get themselves in the driver's seat of an Alfa Romeo without spending so much money. 

As per their data, the formula worked. The Alfa Junior became a hot seller for Alfa, selling more than 92,000 units throughout its 12-year run. 

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