When Alfa Romeo unveiled the Tonale SUV in February 2022, it said the US market would get it with two AWD powertrains, a 1.3-liter plug-in hybrid and a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine.
As the US market launch nears, Alfa Romeo has changed its mind and announced through its CEO that the Tonale will only be available as a plug-in hybrid stateside.
At the European Alfa Romeo Tonale test drive in Balocco, Italy on November 14, Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato said the US market will only get the plug-in hybrid powertrain that is offered in Europe, Automotive News Europe reports. So why has Alfa ditched the 256-horsepower internal combustion engine, especially since the Dodge Hornet sister car will offer it alongside the plug-in hybrid?
An Alfa Romeo spokesperson said the move was mainly due to the need to cut CO2 emissions, especially in the so-called CARB states—those that follow the strict emission rules being gradually introduced by California.
California's proposed Advanced Clean Cars II Regulations, which were introduced in August 2022 and are waiting for final approval, stipulate that the share of zero-CO2 emission vehicles for each automaker (including plug-ins) will have to grow to 35 percent in 2026 and 100 percent in 2035.
Gallery: 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale
The Alfa Romeo Tonale's plug-in hybrid powertrain combines a 1.3-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine rated at 177-horsepower with a rear-mounted 121-horsepower (90 kilowatt) electric motor and a 15.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. Besides enabling an EV range of 50 miles (80 km) on the WLTP City cycle, the motor and battery improve the SUV's fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions to 26-33 grams per km.
CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato said at the Balocco event the Tonale plug-in powertrain "is not just another powertrain; it's an existential need." He added that Alfa's first PHEV will cut the brand's average CO2 emissions by 40 percent and help boost sales in western and northern European markets where plug-ins are popular.
The executive also said that sales of the Tonale PHEV next year will be capped by limited availability of batteries, as Alfa will only receive 35,000 batteries from supplier CATL.
Alfa Romeo started taking orders for the Tonale PHEV on November 17, with deliveries in Europe expected in the first quarter of 2023. Shipping to the United States will start a few weeks after. Imparato said the Tonale would also be exported to China starting next year.
Both the Alfa Romeo Tonale and Dodge Hornet are built on a shared platform at the Stellantis factory in Pomigliano d'Arco, Italy.