Launch material has already been printed for the forthcoming Alfa Milano (above) which will now need to be junked due to the last-minute name change.


The Giulietta name, used twice in Alfa Romeo's history, firstly in the 1950s/1960s, was last born by a model in 1985 when production of the large Giulietta sedan ended.

Alfa Romeo has dropped the name "Milano" for the Alfa 147 replacement at the very last moment due to concerns amongst the workforce about an association with its historical birth city where it announced in the summer it would severe its final contacts.

Although volume car production ended in Milan a decade ago, some operations remained at the Arese site. Niche LPG conversions continued for some years before being wrapped up, and by the start of 2009 all that remained in the city was Alfa Romeo Centro Stile, the official museum and a call centre. In June all the remaining slender links were severed with the announcement that 250-strong design and engineering team would relocated to Turin within six to eight months.

The replacement for the C-segment Alfa 147 hatchback is now likely to be called the Giulietta, "sources close to the matter" told Automotive News Europe yesterday. The Giulietta name, used twice in Alfa Romeo's history, firstly in the 1950s/1960s, was last used in 1985 when production of the large Giulietta sedan ended. There is a great deal of confusion now as to when the Alfa 147 replacement will be officially announced as first images and a snapshot of mechanical details were due to be presented this coming Friday although Alfa Romeo suggests this could be now pushed back. The new car is due to be launched early next year.

When Alfa Romeo Centro Stile closes down its current location (it moved to the Arese site from Portello in 1989) and completes the move to the Officina 83 site Turin it will break a century old link between the carmaker and the city of Milan. Alfa Romeo's very first cars were produced at the legendary factory in the Portello suburb of Milan in 1910. The Alfa Romeo logo, the Biscione, famously bears the ancient crest of the Viscontis of Milan dating back to the 11th century and the crusades.

Today, Alfa Romeo’s link with Milan is held by the very slenderest of threads. The historical association with Milan is captured in the brand's latest model, the MiTo, which draws its name from a combination of the cities of Milan and Turin. Only Alfa Romeo Centro Stile, the official museum and the Fiat Powertrain helpdesk remain at the once sprawling Arese factory that saw mass car production ending a decade ago. Despite this, the small-scale assembly of the Alfa Romeo GTV and Spider (916) outlived the mass-produced cars while the classic 'Arese' V6 engine, along with some LPG conversions of Fiat models, continued up to the middle of this decade.

With the Fiat Group's design activities (Fiat, Fiat Professional, Abarth, Lancia and Iveco) being recently refocused on the Mirafiori site in Turin at Officina 83 under the guidance of ex-Pininfarina design chief Lorenzo Ramaciotti who reports directly to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, the days of Alfa Romeo's presence in Arese was always to be short-lived. Bringing Alfa Romeo into the new Officina 83 design complex will cut costs, create synergies and improve efficiencies according to Fiat Group planning. Work on upgrading the official Alfa Romeo museum, which is also based at Arese, has been halted.

This won't be the first time there has been a last-minute model name change for the Fiat Group this decade. Six years ago Fiat had wanted to badge the current-generation A-segment Panda as the "Gingo", pronounced with a light "g". However Renault swiftly threatened legal action after the name was announced as the French carmaker felt Gingo was too close to its rival the "Twingo". This was a fortuitous move for Fiat as it was forced to drop this rather awful name and instead revived the much-loved Panda tag carried by its predecessor, with the new small car going to to achieve major sales successes.

© 2009 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed