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JD Power progress boosts Alfa credibility

Date: 25 August 2011   |   Author:

Independent validation of Alfa Romeo's improving product and service quality is helping boost the brand's fortunes in the UK, according to head of brand Damian Dally.

Alfa Romeo were placed alongside Toyota and Volkswagen in joint tenth of the 28 brands listed in the JD Power Survey, the most recognised satisfaction survey in the motor industry, and the Italian brand viewed the result as the evidence of progress it needed.

"Let's be honest, it's an area we needed to focus on and we have," Dally told BusinessCar. "We've needed the JD Power result; we have every confidence in our product, it's third party endorsement we required and joint tenth with Toyota and VW gives us credibility."

"It puts us in good company, with people the industry perceives as leaders and it's an independent validation of what we're saying in how we've moved on," added fleet operations manager Gerry Sotherington. "But it didn't just happen, we've put in a lot of spade work over the last two or three years."

The arrival of the lower medium Giulietta a year ago has acted as a catalyst for Alfa's resurgence in the corporate sector, and the brand has doubled its fleet sales year-on-year, though still at the modest level of 0.64% share of the sector. The Giulietta has though taken 1.92% of the lower medium fleet segment, and Alfa was keen to point out that it doesn't deal in the higher-cost end of the business, focusing on user choosers.

"It's not perceived as an obvious choice for a company car.?The fleet industry has got a very matter-of-fact view, and with this we've got a vehicle that can appeal to the emotion of a driver and the more rational side of a fleet manager," said Sotherington. "It ticks both boxes, the Giulietta is very much a user chooser car."

Alfa is looking for further fleet penetration, though the firm admits that the Giulietta is its only model with serious fleet appeal. The supermini Mito is a three-door only, and the Giulietta can tread on the toes of the larger 159 that's coming to the end of its product cycle with no confirmed replacement in sight. "The 159 has a following and if people want a saloon it's a great car and with the new engines it's got great engines, but the Giulietta probably competes with it a lot of the time," said Dally. "A lot of people are opting for Giulietta when you put the two next to each other as the BIK a driver pays is much less."

But Sotherington said the Giulietta can make further inroads into fleet, with the TCT twin-clutch auto gearbox joining the range in 2012. "It has room for growth, I would say we're at the start of something," he said.

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