2010s / Italian / Lancia / News

News: Still no improvement in sight for Lancia, says FCA boss

It’s not a good time to be a Lancia fan.

The Delta is out of production. The Chrysler 300-based Thema has been axed after years of lackluster performance, and the new Pacifica minivan won’t spawn a next-generation Voyager for Lancia.  The company’s lineup has been pared down to just the Ypsilon, and it’s getting long in the tooth.  Lancia wasn’t even present at this year’s Geneva Auto Show.

Unfortunately, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) boss Sergio Marchionne told reporters at the show not to expect an improvement in the foreseeable future. Sacrificing Lancia was necessary to save Alfa Romeo and Maserati, and the brand will continue to be overlooked in the coming years as its sister companies get a much-needed reboot.

“There’s no hope for Lancia right now,” Marchionne was quoted as saying during a press conference. “Our resources are limited and we need to make choices. Sometimes that’s painful,” he added.

Italian publication Investire Oggi reports re-launching Lancia simply isn’t part of FCA’s strategy. Some of the company’s top executives have allegedly toyed around with the idea, but none of have managed to put together a sound and convincing business plan for the project. Additionally, creating modern versions of cars that left their mark on history — like the Delta Integrale and the Stratos — is easier said than done, according to insiders.

It doesn’t help that the global market is shifting towards crossovers and SUVs; odds are 21st century versions of the Flaminia and the Aurelia GT would miss their sales targets even if they were brilliantly executed. And, where would they be sold? Returning to the United States after such a long hiatus is a Herculean task. Chinese buyers haven’t got the faintest idea of what a Lancia is, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for companies to justify building cars exclusively for the European market. “Go global or go home” is the motto in the industry right now, and Lancia is a square peg in a round hole.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on Lancia in the coming years. Many assume the company will be deep-sixed soon but Marchionne — an executive known for being extremely outspoken — hasn’t confirmed that. It’s possible that Lancia will limp on with just the Ypsilon for a while longer, much like Autobianchi did with the Y10 in the 1980s and 1990s. At any rate, don’t wait for the brand launch new products in the foreseeable future.

Here’s another idea: it’s not terribly difficult to imagine Lancia resurrected as FCA’s flagship brand. It could plant a heir to the Flaminia in the same segment as the Mercedes-Maybach S600, develop a new Aurelia as an alternative to the limited-edition Mercedes-Maybach S650, and throw a Mercedes-Benz GLS-sized SUV into the mix for good measure. The ultra-luxury segment is the only one that FCA isn’t currently present in; even Maserati doesn’t go that high.

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