Alfa Romeo forced to rename Milano because it’s not actually built in Italy

What was the Alfa Romeo Milano is now the Junior. Pictures: Supplied.

What was the Alfa Romeo Milano is now the Junior. Pictures: Supplied.

Published Apr 16, 2024


Alfa Romeo revealed its new Milano compact crossover last week to much pomp and ceremony, given that it’s the Italian brand’s new entry point and likely to become a top volume seller.

But now the Italian government has put a spoke in its wheel by stating that using the Milano name would be illegal as the new model is actually built in Poland.

Alfa Romeo said that although it believed the name met all legal requirements, it has decided to change the name from Milano to Junior in the spirit of “promoting mutual understanding” and because there are “issues much more important than the name of a new car”, the carmaker said cheekily in a statement released on Monday night.

This came after Italy’s Industry Minister Adolfo Urso stated that: “A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is against the law.”

The Minister said the law stipulates a product’s name should not be misleading in any way.

“So a car called Milano must be produced in Italy. Otherwise, it gives a misleading indication which is not allowed under Italian law," Urso added.

Interestingly this is not the first time that Alfa Romeo has been forced to backtrack after giving the Milano name to a car.

For some context, Milan is the birthplace of Alfa Romeo, but the company closed its plant there in 2000, and a decade later it was in the process of moving its last employees to the Turin headquarters.

The Giulietta hatchback that was launched in 2010 was meant to use the Milano name, but given the aforementioned situation the brand bowed to political pressure and renamed it at the last minute.

Thankfully, that was before the official reveal, saving the brand from the embarrassment it is currently facing with the new SUV.

That said, Alfa Romeo doesn’t seem very embarrassed at all, even thanking the Italian government for the “free publicity” that this has generated.

Alfa’s initial choice to use the Milano name came after a public vote, and the Junior name was apparently next on the list of preferences for the new compact crossover.

Junior has a heritage of its very own, fittingly having featured on the brand’s entry-level coupe from 1965 to 1977, which featured a 1.3-litre twin cam engine that was considered very advanced for its time.

The modern Junior, built on Stellantis parent company’s new e-CMP platform, is available in both petrol and electric (EV) variants.

The EV models offer outputs of 114kW and 177kW, while the 1.2-litre turbocharged ICE mild hybrid model is good for 100kW.

The new Alfa Romeo Junior is under consideration for South Africa, but timing and other details remain under wraps for now.

IOL Motoring