Last year, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne announced plans to euthanize the 108-year old Lancia brand. Speaking at a press conference, the executive announced that Lancia will become an Italy-only brand that will exclusively sell the Ypsilon city car. That means the Delta, the Thema and the Voyager will not be replaced – we can already hear some of you say “good riddance.”
Lancia’s downsizing is already in progress. The Thema is no longer listed on the company’s consumer website and dealers all across Europe are starting to receive letters that officially announce the end of the brand.
The automaker’s booth at this year’s Geneva Motor Show was downright depressing because the only cars on display were a handful of Ypsilons. One of them was a limited-edition model built to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Panda-based Y10, but Lancia couldn’t even be bothered to pull an early model out of storage to commemorate the occasion.
(Similarly, we couldn’t be bothered with getting our SLR camera out to get a pic of the stand, so this low-quality cell phone pics will have to suffice.)
We’re certainly not economists here but we think it’s fair to point out that we predicted Lancia’s demise all the way back in 2008 when the the current-gen Delta was introduced. It’s unfortunate to see the company go but it could be worse, frankly we’d rather see Lancia get deep-sixed for good than follow Rover’s deplorable path.
What do you think Fiat should do with Lancia? Kill it, sell it, invest in it? The third option sounds lovely but Marchionne has a point: How do you differentiate Lancia from Alfa? Both are supposed to be higher-end premium companies whose cars fight head-to-head against Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW. You can’t really position Lancia above Alfa (or vice versa) without stepping on Maserati’s toes.