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Alfa Romeo rebrands Milano car after Meloni backlash

Alfa Romeo Milano SUV
Alfa Romeo has renamed its Milano SUV 'the Junior' - Stellantis

The owner of Alfa Romeo has changed the name of its Milano SUV after the Italian government criticised the carmaker for building it in Poland.

Stellantis said it was renaming the car the Junior following a row with Giorgia Meloni’s administration.

Jean-Philippe Imparato, Alfa Romeo’s boss, said: “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 decision came after Adolfo Urso, Italy’s industry minister, accused the company of misleading buyers with the name of the vehicle.

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Mr Urso said last week: “A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland.

“This is forbidden by Italian law. This law stipulates you cannot give indications that mislead consumers ... a car called Milano must be produced in Italy.”

He claimed it breached a 2003 law that prevents the sale of “Italian sounding” products not made in the country.

The Milano is the first Alfa Romeo to be entirely assembled outside of the country since the brand was founded in 1910 in Milan.

However, Carlos Tavares, chief executive of Stellantis, argued that making the car in Italy would have been too expensive.

He told Automotive News Europe last week: “If built in Italy, a Milano would have started from about €40,000 instead of €30,000, limiting its potential on the marketplace.”

Alfa Romeo Milano
Alfa Romeo claimed the Milano would be much more expensive were it built in Italy - AUTOS-STELLANTIS/ALFA ROMEO/REUTERS

Two other models, the Fiat 600 and Jeep Avenger, will also be manufactured in Poland alongside the Milano, Stellantis has announced.

The row over the Milano’s assembly is the latest spat between Stellantis, the world’s largest car company, and the Italian Government.

Ms Meloni, the Italian prime minister, has accused the company of not supporting its home country enough, saying: “If you want to sell a car [by] advertising it as an Italian jewel, that car must be made in Italy.”

Controlled by Italy’s industrialist Agnelli family, which is behind famous Italian marque Fiat, Stellantis also owns the Chrysler, Peugeot and Vauxhall brands, among others.

It was created in 2021 from the merger of Italy’s Fiat Chrysler and France’s Peugeot Group.

Through their holding company Exor, the Agenelli’s also own about 25pc of supercar brand Ferrari.