Alfa Romeo goes electric: pure EVs coming in 2024

Published: 06 February 2022

► Alfa Romeo’s electric plan revealed
► Details of the cars to follow 2022’s Tonale SUV
► Hybrid and electric, front and four-wheel drive

Alfa Romeo will tomorrow reveal the Tonale SUV, a car that heralds the brand’s ‘metamorphosis’ from purely combustion powered to purely electric by 2027. That’s the electrification timeframe set out by Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato, in an exclusive interview with Car.

‘When I launch a car from 2025, it’s only electric,’ states Imparato, instantly putting Alfa level with Audi for its switchover year. ‘When we speak about the metamorphosis of Alfa Romeo, Tonale is the first step that says “hey guys, we are electrified”. But electrification will be at the service of Alfa Romeo, Alfa Romeo won’t be at the service of electrification.’ 

What do we know about the Tonale?

The all-new Alfa Romeo Tonale, a rival for the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, will be unveiled to the world at 2pm (UK time) on Tuesday 8 February. Check back for Car’s exclusive story then.

Alfa Romeo Tonale goes public 8 February 2022

Alfa previewed the Tonale at the 2019 Geneva motor show, confirming that the concept ran a plug-in hybrid powertrain. In the nose, was a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol, with a hang-on electric motor spinning the rear axle for four-wheel drive. Fiat-Chrysler also revealed that the Tonale would use a reworked version of the Jeep Compass/Renegade’s platform, and a version of the Tonale concept’s drivetrain – with up to 240hp and 30 miles of pure electric range – powers the plug-in Compass 4xe.

But there’s a big chance the Tonale will surpass those figures. ‘We postponed the launch from the very beginning of 2022 [for a few months] because I wanted to secure [electrified] features and performance at the height of the market’s expectations,’ reveals Jean-Philippe Imparato.

All will become much clearer on 8 February.

Alfa Romeo Tonale concept rear 3/4

The Alfas to follow the Tonale: a small crossover

In the past decade or so, Alfa Romeo has had a bad habit of grandly announcing a range of cars to propel the brand to 400,000 annual sales – and then failing to follow through. In 2021, admittedly at the height of the Covid-induced supply crisis, Alfa delivered just 56,000 cars worldwide.

Imparato refuses to make the same mistake. ‘I will explain to you each and every year what will be next year’s plan. And 2022 will be the Tonale launch, provided that I have the right level of quality. Then we have one big product event every year for five years, then we renew the cycle. I have my 10-year vision and the product plan locked and funded.’

Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato

After Tonale comes a smaller SUV: the Renegade baby Jeep shows the potential to shrink its platform to sire a baby Alfa: expect this in 2023/4. The Renegade has a choice of two electrified drivetrains: the plug-in 4xe, and a 130hp mild-hybrid with an e-motor that allows it to drive at low speeds in pure electric mode.

Jeep Renegade plug-in hybrid 4xe

Alfa Romeo’s new head of design, Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, arrived in July 2021 – too late to affect the Tonale’s design. But he is shaping the baby crossover. ‘It’s not a typical tall SUV, it’s very sporty in the proportions. It’s really cool, I like it very much. It’s definitely going to be an Alfa Romeo,’ he tells Car, in his first detailed interview in post.

Expect a big Alfa Romeo SUV too…

Alfa Romeo’s B-segment crossover, a rival for the Range Rover Evoque and Audi Q2, is unlikely to be the only new Alfa SUV. CEO Imparato reveals that at the back end of 2021, Stellantis approved a new car aimed directly at the North American and Chinese market. That suggests a large SUV in the space above the Stelvio: something around 4.9m with five- and seven-seat capability would rival the BMW X5. 

The alternative is a big saloon or 8-series Gran Coupe rival, but an SUV is probably most likely. ‘I’ve heard some [commentators say]: “Ah Jean-Philippe, stop SUVs!” Sorry, my friend. The problem is that the world is SUVs. And as I say, even an Alfista has a family!’ chuckles the boss.

What do we know about the pure electric Alfa Romeos?

The first pure electric Alfa Romeo comes in 2024, with CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato confirming the car will be ‘hybrid and full BEV’. And the following year, Alfa Romeo’s stepchange begins. ‘In 2025, I will be disruptive and we launch a full EV super-performing car. And from then, the cars I launch are only electric.’

Stellantis is developing four pure electric architectures, to underpin its 14 passenger car brands as they embrace zero emissions. Imparato confirms that Alfa will use four Stellantis architectures, and directly namechecks the electric STLA Medium and STLA Large (pronounced Stella). Preparation is also underway for Alfa to use STLA small, but that won’t be in service until 2026. The final platform – for now – is surely the Tonale’s hybridised underpinnings.

Four STLA platforms will underpin future Stellantis group EVs

STLA Medium is due to come on stream in 2023. It offers up to 104kWh of battery capacity, and electric motors punching out up to 180kW (241bhp) which can be mounted on the front or rear axles, or both. STLA Large is bigger with more punchy performance – for more details of Stellantis’ EV strategy click here.

What’s the future for the Giulia saloon and Stelvio SUV?

The STLA platforms are likely to sire the replacements for the bulwarks of today’s Alfa line-up, the Giulia saloon and Stelvio SUV. Imparato says the two cars are growing their share of the D-segment combustion segment, and it’s possible Alfa Romeo will keep them in service with extensive makeovers, to bridge the gap until they can switch to STLA.

‘The successor of the Giulia will not come in 2024,’ states Imparato. ‘But as I’m in love with the shape of my Giulia, I can tell you that the Giulia will have a successor. You will see one day, it’s super, really gorgeous. And the Quadrifoglio version of the cars we will launch will have a very high level of performance.’

Alfa Romeo GTA supersaloon

So expect phenomenal performance from Alfa’s EVs, big range and fast recharging. ‘Alfa Romeo is freedom,’ Imparato tells us. ‘An Alfisti is a guy that does what he wants. So if I am BEV I don’t want to be stuck two hours in a charging station. I want to charge in 15-20 minutes 80% of my car. I want to be able to make 700kilometres (435 miles) with my car because I do not want to stop – and that’s driven by freedom.’

And what else can we expect as the pillars of the new era of Alfa Romeos under Stellantis ownership? ‘Sportiness. Inspired by Italy. And always driver-centric. Artificial Intelligence will be an asset in my cars, but I will always select the data that will enhance your driving sensation, the way the car handles. I do not want to sell an iPad with a car around.’

And that’s a good summary of Alfa Romeo’s metamorphosis: electrified, connected and digitised – but still with Alfa’s values of good dynamics and high performance at its core, we hope.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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