*Editor's note: A previous version of this story used the fourth-quarter figure when referring to Alfa's 2020 annual U.S. sales.
TURIN/ MILAN -- The launch of Alfa Romeo's crucial Tonale SUV has been delayed after the brand’s new CEO, Jean-Philippe Imparato, demanded better performance from the vehicle's plug-in hybrid powertrain, a source familiar with the matter said.
PSA Group veteran Imparato took charge of Alfa Romeo after the January merger of PSA and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to create Stellantis. He saw the Tonale for the first time when he visited FCA’s European headquarters in Turin on Jan. 19-20.
Imparato has demanded better performance from the Tonale’s plug-in hybrid variant and has asked for modifications, according to the source.
The Tonale’s market introduction in Europe will be delayed until early 2022, supplier sources told Automotive News Europe. The vehicle is also planned for North America, with this additional delay expected to mean a rollout in the market in the second half of 2022.
During a press conference about Italian production on Thursday, the FIM-CISL metalworkers union said: "We are asking for the company to meet its target to start the Tonale's production by the end of this year but we have got signs of a possible delay to early 2022."
Responding to a request for comment, Stellantis told Reuters that the Tonale would be the first milestone in Alfa Romeo's future. "We want to be on the market with the most updated electrified offer, leveraging on the Stellantis technology and know-how. Our teams in Pomigliano are strongly working to update the production line," the automaker said.
The SUV was scheduled to go into production in October at FCA’s Pomigliano plant, near Naples, where the Fiat Panda minicar is produced.