The Mito sporty supermini launched here in the UK a year ago has boosted Alfa Romeo’s UK sales and lured new ‘conquest customers’ to the brand, executives told just-auto.

The automaker recently launched an updated model line with the new Fiat group MultiAir petrol engine using new induction technology expected to migrate to other engines.

Fiat Group Automobiles UK and Ireland managing director, Andrew Humberstone,  said: “The Mito achieved 6,000 UK sales last year which enabled Alfa Romeo to achieve a 52% increase in UK registrations over 2008 and the brand’s best result for six years.”

Alfa Romeo sold 9,067 cars in the UK last year with the Mito accounting for two thirds. In the first two months of 2010, sales increased a further 21%, again driven by Mito demand.

Humberstone added, “2010 is Alfa Romeo’s centenary year and there are key issues to be addressed with the brand regarding residual values, running costs and the customer experience with our dealers. We have the right products at the right time and the right dealers. Currently we have 50 Alfa Romeo dealers but this will increase to 55 by the end of the year and with the brand we have a wonderfully loyal band of owners”

“The recent success of Alfa was not brought about by the scrappage scheme; we only sold around 800 MiTos through this sales incentive. To further improve our performance we need to return to a multi model portfolio – we cannot do it with one model range such as the second generation MiTo range. The introduction of the new C-segment Giulietta this summer, which replaces the 147, will help us with that.”

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“Post scrappage, we will be entering the fleet sales channels having been absent for two years so this will bring us incremental business.”

Fiat Group Automobiles UK sales director Andrew Sproston said: “75% of customers who have bought Mito are new to the Alfa Romeo brand, something other manufacturers would love. Traditionally UK Alfa customers were male, they have been older at around 48 to 49 years of age but Mito has dropped that average by 10 years and we now have more or less a fifty-fifty split between male and female drivers.

“To date 90% of MiTo UK sales have been to retail customers but we expect to increase the number of business user-choosers [due to the latest generation engines].”