Italy says that it’s illegal for Alfa Romeo to call its new EV the Milano

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What’s an Alfa Romeo without a cool Italian-sounding name? The Stellantis-owned company is naming its first BEV after the famous city of Milan, but the Italian government is now playing hardball by saying that’s illegal since the car will be built in Poland. If it’s not made in Italy, it can’t sound Italian.

Alfa Romeo – the iconic Italian brand founded in 1910 – unveiled its first all-electric car this week, a small SUV dubbed the Milano. Stellantis has been at odds with the Italian government for months for what he says is its lack of support in EV adoption and not backing home-grown brands Fiat and Alfa Romeo, but the government says that moving production outside the country is a step way too far.

Italy’s industry minister Adolfo Urso, according to Automotive News Europe, slammed Stellantis for the decision to build the EV at the company’s Tychy plant in Poland – meaning the car will be the first Alfa Romeo to be entirely built outside of Italy. And if the electric vehicle isn’t built in Italy, it can’t carry an Italian-sounding name according to Italian law.

“A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is forbidden by Italian law,” Urso said, referring to 2003 law that prohibits any products being sold with Italian-sounding names that aren’t made in Italy. Yet somehow calling it the Tychy doesn’t have the same ring.

“This law stipulates that you cannot give indications that mislead consumers. So a car called Milano must be produced in Italy. Otherwise, it gives a misleading indication which is not allowed under Italian law,” he added, according to Automotive News Europe.

Urso is referring to a law that says it is illegal to falsely present a foreign-made product as coming from Italy, but has typically been invoked against food products, such as forbidding a US-made “Parmigiano Reggiano” cheese. France has similar laws protecting its products, such as prohibiting sparking wine be called “champagne” if it doesn’t come from the Champagne region of France.

The rationale for building the vehicle in Poland, according to Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, is that it will shave off €10,000 from its retail price.

While pricing has yet been released, the new EV is based on Stellantis’s e-CMP platform, which powers its Jeep Avenger. A 54 kWh battery pack will deliver up to 250 miles of range, and in an urban cycle, it can get up to 366 miles of range.

Italy, home to some of the oldest, most polluting cars in Europe, is working (finally) to change that, with the government weighing a plan to put €930 million ($1 billion) into some enticing financial incentives to nudge drivers toward electric cars. This includes an incentive topping €13,750 to allow Italian citizens with an annual income lower than €30,000 to replace old Euro 2 models (meeting emissions standards set back in 1997) for new electric cars. An EV made is Italy is even better, of course.

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