Alfa Romeo renames Milano to Junior

Quick-switch name-change for new Alfa Romeo electric crossover.

Alfa Romeo has made one of the most lighting-fast about-face turns since someone gave Colin McRae a fly-off handbrake and told him to go and play… The Italian brand’s much-touted new compact crossover - available in both electric and hybrid forms - was due to be called Milano. And now it’s called Junior.

Glitzy event

How has this happened? Well, originally, the new model - based on the same mechanical package as the Jeep Avenger and the Peugeot 2008 - had been named Milano. That was the name used in all of the pre-launch publicity and at the glitzy event held in that great city - the home of Alfa Romeo itself, and let’s not forget once part of the company name too - last week.

And then the Italian government decided to throw a spanner in the works. The Milano, in spite of its name, was due to be built in Tychy, in Poland. Fiat has had a factory there for many decades, and it has been steadily building the most Italian cars - the Panda and the 500 - for basically forever. Yet the Italian government said that this simply could not stand. “A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is forbidden by Italian law,” Italian industry minister Adolfo Urso told Automotive News Europe.

Protecting the name

It seems that Urso was trying to invoke the European law that protects certain products as being produced in specific regions. It’s called the Geographical Indication scheme, and it’s why American sparkling wine cannot be called Champagne. If you’re going to produce Parmesan cheese, you’d better be making it in and around the Parma region.

Invoking that law for a car is at the very least legally dubious, not least because cars are never built in just one place—they use components and parts made all over the world. But Alfa Romeo, saying that it basically doesn’t want to cause a row, has decided to let this one pass and will rename the new crossover Junior.

Junior is, of course, a name with some great Alfa Romeo history behind it - think back to the 105-series body GT 1300 Junior of the 1960s, still one of the best-looking cars ever made - but this will have cost Alfa a pretty penny, as all of the car’s promotional material, brochures and more will have to be junked and re-made with the new name.


Jean-Philippe Imparato, the CEO of Alfa Romeo said: “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 Alfa Romeo 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 - said: “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 Alfa Romeo 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. Alfa Romeo 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.”

In spite of making the change, Alfa Romeo wanted to make it clear that it believed: “that the name met all legal requirements and that there are issues much more important than the name of a new car, Alfa Romeo has decided to change it from “Milano” to “Alfa Romeo Junior” in the spirit of promoting mutual understanding.”


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Published on April 15, 2024