Published on April 17th, 2024 | by Subhash Nair


Alfa Romeo Milano Renamed Junior Over Italian Government’s Protest

The Alfa Romeo Milano falls prey to the Italian government’s outdated laws.

Europe has a strangely possessive attitude towards things. After World War 1, the Treaty of Versailles was used by the French to own the rights to any product sold as “champagne”. 100 years later, the Italian government claims only Italian-made products can be named after Italian regions and cities. As silly as this rule is, we now see that it can have an effect. Last week, Alfa Romeo showed the Milano, a car that was to be assembled in Poland. The Italian government deemed this illegal and rather than stand their ground, Stellantis has decided to rename the car from Milano to Junior.

What’s In A Name?

The Alfa Romeo Milano was to be the brand’s first ever electric vehicle (though there will also be hybrid versions). In choosing the name, Alfa Romeo asked the public for ideas and the Milano name was chosen to pay tribute to the historic city where the brand got its start. The company said that it believed it met the legal requirements but decided to rename the car in the spirit of promoting mutual understanding with the Italian government.

To manage costs, it’s completely normal for a big, multi-brand, multi-national conglomerate like Stellantis to take assembly out of Western Europe and into Eastern Europe. The Milano was to be built in Poland alongside cars like the Peugeot 2008 and Jeep Avenger as they all use the same STLA Small electrified platform. VW Group has been doing this practice for decades with models like the Cayenne coming from Slovakia alongside the Audi Q8 and Volkswagen Toureg.

The conservative Italian government had a problem with this “new way of thinking”. They have laws in place that punish producers of “Italian-sounding” products that aren’t made in Italy. They made their protest clear and left Stellantis with two options – move production to Italy or change the name of the car.

Milano Gets “Baptized” as the Alfa Romeo Junior

Within days, Stellantis made a firm commitment to Poland and changed the name to Junior after the GT Junior entry-level coupé models of yore. The GR Junior came about in 1965 to replace the Giulia Sprint 1300 and came with a 1.3L twin cam engine. Here’s what the CEO of Alfa Romeo and the President of the Italian Alfa Romeo Dealers Association had to say.

Alfa Romeo GT Junior

Jean-Philippe Imparato – CEO Alfa Romeo “We are perfectly aware that this moment will remain engraved in the history of the brand. It’s a great responsibility but at the same time it’s an exciting moment. The choice of the name Junior is completely natural, as it is strongly linked to the history of the brand and has been among our favourites and among the public’s favourites since the beginning. As a team, we are choosing once again to share our passion for the brand and make the product and our customers the priority. 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. 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.”

Stefano Odorici – President of the Italian Alfa Romeo Dealers Association “Alfa Romeo is an inclusive brand, which welcomes and generates passion and positive emotions. You can clearly see it when I look into the eyes of our customers when they come to see, test, purchase and collect Alfa Romeo cars in our dealerships. For this reason, we welcome the decision taken by the company to change the name of the car from Milano to Junior in light of the latest news, which could affect the enthusiasm and the enormous attention that the new car is receiving from our customers recently. Junior, like Milano, are both beautiful names that have their roots in the history of the brand. It is no coincidence that they were immediately among the public’s favourites.”

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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