DFounded in 1910, Alfa Romeo, the car manufacturer whose often sporty and almost always beautiful cars are revered by customers in an almost cult-like fashion, recently unveiled its first all-electric model. It is a compact SUV called Milano. As a result, the car celebrated its world premiere in Milan, the capital of Lombardy.

Matthias Rüb

Italian, Vatican, Albanian and Maltese political correspondent in Rome.

But the car was not produced there, nor elsewhere in motor-loving northern Italy. But in Tychy, in motor-loving southern Poland. There, the Stellantis Group manufactures cars (or gearboxes) of its own brands – from Opel and Jeep to Fiat and Lancia to Alfa Romeo. Stellants was formed in 2021 by the merger of the French Groupe PSA with the Fiat Group, to which Alfa Romeo has belonged since 1986.

“It's forbidden”

The trade press says that the new Alfa Milano has a “chic” design and that powering up to a “brilliant 240 hp” means “sporty driving behaviour”. There are disputes about the new “Milano” just because of the name. Minister Alfredo Urso, whose cabinet department is officially called the Ministry of Enterprise and Made in Italy, even claims that the naming was a violation of the law: “A car named Milano cannot be produced in Poland. It is forbidden.”

Urso cites a 2003 law that prohibits the marketing of a product with an Italian name if the product in question is made outside of Italy. For example, Parmesan cheese produced in the USA cannot be called “Parmigiano Reggiano” because it does not come from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

Does this also make sense for cars?

Protecting designations of origin may make sense for agricultural products that come directly from the cultivation of the land. Farmers' associations and foreign trade chambers have long complained of billions in losses for Italian producers due to more than 600 Italian-sounding products spread around the world that have nothing to do with “Made in Italy” dairy products. and pasta with sausage and meat with wine and prosecco.

But does the PDO right also make sense for cars? In the era of globalization, their parts are brought from many countries and then assembled in a convenient place in terms of transportation and salary.

There has been a long-running dispute between the Roman government and the Franco-Italian company as Stellantis produces fewer and fewer cars and auto parts in Italy due to costs. An Alfa Romeo Milano produced in Tychy costs about 10,000 euros less per unit than in Milan, says Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares. However, it has been ruled out that the Polish SUV will be renamed Alfa Romeo “Tychy” after the intervention of the Italian government after the Portuguese boss of the Franco-Italian group.

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