By on October 6, 2009

Automotive News [sub] reports that the promotion of Lancia CEO Olivier Francois to Chrysler brand boss heralds a closer alignment of the two brands in the European market. According to AN’s Fiat source, Chrysler and Lancia will share products and distribution going forward, not mention a luxury mandate that has yet to convince the wider market. The association might lend a certain amount of panache to the Chrysler brand, which its former CEO Peter Fong has said should aspire to “a notch above Cadillac.” If nothing else, Chrysler will probably get a version of the next Lancia Ypsilon city car. And Lancia? A new Thesis flagship based on Chrysler’s LX platform, and “a car derived from the Sebring’s successor,” according to AN. In other words, a Fiat. Nothing about these product-sharing plans sound particularly exciting, considering they hardly get Chrysler and Lancia away from their traditions of peddling upscale versions of pedestrian grocery-getters. But Messr. Francois has kept Lancia from going the way of Oldsmobile through his Gallic brand of sultry marketing, like the Carla Bruni spot above (by the way, is that a Chrysler limo?). The hope is that the Francois panache can similarly rescue Chrysler’s efforts, but that’s a tall order for a brand with basically no competitive product. Meanwhile, does Europe need another brand of luxe Fiats?

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14 Comments on “Chrysler Is Lancia?...”


  • avatar
    menno

    The buried limo is a Cadillac, about 20-25 years old.

    Having a Lancia which will (theoretically) compete against BMW and Mercedes will be “interesting”.

    A Chrysler 200 based (i.e. 300 cut-down) RWD or AWD V6 car will theoretically be competitive against a 5-series Bimmer.

    But I strongly suspect it’ll only play in Italy, since the Germans and rest of the Europeans much prefer BMW’s roundel or Mercedes’ star for high end big-cars.

    The Italians haven’t built a high-end large car which sold in any numbers outside of Italy since before World War ONE.

  • avatar
    kurkosdr

    Lancia? Chrysler?

    These nameplates barely exist here in Europe. Sure, Lancia had an once glorious past and still maintains a niche fanbase, but com’ on. Why I should buy one when I can get an Alfa at the same price? Probably if the latest crop of Lancias weren’t so oddily shaped, things might have been different.
    As regards Chrysler, most people here don’t even know the nameplate exists (they surely know it’s the mother of Jeeps and Dodges, but nothing more).
    That’s for the European future of Lancyer. As regards it’s American future, how a transplant of Fiat platforms is going to save a company that tried Daimler platforms and failed is beyond me.

    Chrysler needs to come up with new designs and new platforms to save itself, not to rely on frankestein works done on someone else’s platforms. Oh, they can’t do that.

    There is only one somewhat-viable future for Chrysler: Importing models from Fiat as they are (but building them here), but this raises the question: How are those going to fit into the brand image of the Chrysler brands?

    Anyway, nobody cares about this. What we need to know is: What is going to happen to the Jeeps? (hope they won’t base them on a Fiat platform)

    I think nobody would care if dodge and chrysler dies and the Caliber, Nitro and 300C is gone. Someone could assume that shutting down Dodge and Chrysler, replacing them with Alfa romeo, while keeping the Jeep line is the big plan the CEO of Fiat has in mind.

    But why is he not sharing his big plans with us? I thought Taxpayers own the company too, and I guees they need to know what is going to happen to the nameplates they own. But I guess this is how the Mafia-run italian companies roll (“secrecy is good” etc).

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    The buried white limo looks like an Eighties Lincoln to me. I had to watch it a few times because I kept focusing on France’s First Lady.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie

    kurkosdr

    And so goes the Chrysler bashing. How can you say nobody cares if the 300 is gone? Just becasue you don’t like it only means that you don’t have the same taste as the vast majority. The 300 has been a great seller and during the year of its inception, it garnered the more awards in one year (2005) than any other car in history! Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, who likes to insut most things American, was very impressed by the car’s performance and design. I believe he used the term “something of the night” to explain its appealing sinister side.

    Also.. Don’t forget that Daimler forced Chrysler to cut $1000.00 out of the cost of each car during the last few years of ownership. This is why Chrysler got stuck with uncompetitive crap for its C & D cars. I know! I was there!

    Chrysler’s best hope is in the hands of Marchionne and I have faith in everything he’s doing.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Autojunkie,
    2005 is over. Snoop Dog moved on, the economy is in recession, and the world has changed. The 300C isn’t hot anymore, and sales have tanked.

    In theory, the next 300C could be great, but that assumes Chrysler can get a new product out the door. Suppliers that aren’t bankrupt avoid them, Daimler is screwing them, and the talented employees are gone.

    They don’t even have a plan. Spin off Ram? Why, because you need another dealer network? I don’t think so. Chrysler is the new Lancia? Why, because Lancia was such a success in the U.S. 20 years ago?

    This is just sad to watch, like “Leaving Las Vegas”

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Let us not be confused between “Dodge Lancer” and “Lancia”. Who would have thought that those two might someday have something in common. They may as well throw away all the old names – that’s all they are, names – and start afresh.

  • avatar
    kurkosdr

    Americans may like the current 300C, but let me tell you, they won’t like the 2010 300C. Why? Because it’s same old same old.

    I have said it before, and I ‘ll say it again. If Chrysler doesn’t invent new platforms for their new models, or bring new models in from Italy, they are toast.

    For now, Chrysler has only 2 new platforms: The Jeep and the Ram. Each and everything else they own is based on some 2 year old Daimler platform. As any Consumer Reports reader is aware, Chrysler is incompetent in the small, midsize and luxury market. Also, due to licence agreements and the like, these Daimler platforms have become evolutionary dead-ends, so each and every product that’s based on them needs to get scrapped. Period.

    Keep Jeep and Ram, scrap everything else! Then, go and make/import all-new cars for the small, midsize and luxury sector to compete! Spinning off Ram may not be such a bad idea after all, as this will allow Chrysler to get rid of the other incompetent Dodge models.

    My only concern is were are these new cars going to come from. Will they be Fiat/Alfas/Lancias built in the US? Will they be all-new designs? Will they be Frankenstein works on Alfa and Fiat models?

    Whatever happens, here is the big plan: There is no chance in hell that those new models coming in 2011 are going to fit in the current C and D brand image, so these brands may get scrapped. The Ram may as well be spinned off from the Dodge brand. Then, after Dodge and Chrysler is gone, Alfas and Fiats may come and fill the gap, at least for the small and midsize section. Begin development on an All-new luxury platform.

    And this is, ladies and gentlemen, Maximum Marchionne’s big plan reverse enginneered!

  • avatar
    snabster

    I will say that whenever I am in Europe, the number of Chrysler mini-vans being used by affluent families staggers me. It is a nice niche business — other than 1 or 2 Caddy BLS they are the only “American” cars I see in Europe. Chevys are all korean, and the Fords don’t look familiar either.

  • avatar
    menno

    Hey, Chrisisler? Here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice for ya.

    Economies of scale.

    Do an “AMC” and sell cars in categories not touched by most of the competition.

    Style counts.

    Quality counts.

    Use the chips you have on the board.

    Here’s a few thoughts, since you’ve gotten rid of almost everybody who might have thought these things out for ya…

    Pickups and 300′s and Challengers can use the upcoming Phoenix V6′s and the Hemi V8′s. Capitalize on that.

    Do the Chrysler 200 but instead of building it as a Chrysler, call it the Dodge Charger; offer it in competition with the dull vanilla Camcord mid-sized cars with a Fiat derived/designed/Dundee Michigan built INLINE FIVE(with balancer shafts) using shared parts with small 4 cylinder engines to replace the current engines in production; a Phoenix V6 or a Hemi V8, and AWD as an option. (Why not a turbo-four? Not enough moxie for the weight of car; costs; distrust of turbos by some of the public – a five has a distinctive ‘nearly V8′ beat to the exhaust – play on that – Dodge is supposed to be ‘sporty’ right?) Yep, Fiat/Alfa/Lancia do inline fives in Europe.

    Take the 300 and have Pininfarina do a retro-sedan restyle using early-mid 1960′s Italian flare and offer it with top-quality interiors, WITH Italian flare (and super-soft Italian leather), Phoenix V6 and Hemi V8′s (and offer a 300F – for “Fast” – with AWD and 6.0 Hemi). AWD as an option on the pedestrian versions. Don’t forget a long wheelbase job for the wealthy (RWD only). Offer the car as a 4 door sedan AND as a 4 door coupe’ (2 rear doors swinging from the rear, only available when the front doors are open and using the same bodyside pressings as the 4 door car; just different doors and no B-pillar).

    Dump the antique OHV and SOHC V6 engines – put all of your chips into the Phoenix V6, and take advantage of economies of scale. This will mean competitive power in minivans, a modern engine in Jeep Wranglers, and super-modern V6′s in pickup trucks instead of antique SOHC 90 degree V6′s.

    As of now, Chrysler builds

    3.3 litre 60 degree OHV V6
    3.8 litre 60 degree OHV V6
    2.7 litre 60 degree OHC V6
    4.0 litre 60 degree OHC V6
    3.7 litre 90 degree OHC V6
    and a related
    4.7 litre 90 degree OHC V8

    Dump them all.

    Oh yeah, Fiat? You wanted this thing. So, bring back the $2 or $3 billion bucks that GM dumped in your lap from the “divorce” and spend it in the United States so that if/when our country comes out of the Greater Depression, you actually have something you can – gasp – make a profit with here.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie

    Because you all know what’s best for Chrysler…

  • avatar
    menno

    Well, autojunkie, I don’t think that even I could even screw up Chrysler worse than they already are, at this point….

    Besides which. Go read a few long books about how Nash motors and Hudson were individually failing (along with the rest of the smaller US car companies in the early 1950′s) and why.

    Then read about the merger of Nash and Hudson into American Motors and how they managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat, focus on what Detroit Inc didn’t do, and had confidence in their research which showed that many Americans were getting fed up with what Detroit offered (i.e. obese, finned, gasoholic monstrosities) – and that the new American Motors Rambler cars had to be small(ish) and economical, yet not “cheap” nor low-rent in looks.

    Then came the recession of 1958 and American Motors was the envy of all the other car makers.

    Perhaps then you’ll understand my references to “doing an American Motors”.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie

    I’ve read plenty of books on automotive history. My regular hangout is the Skillman Branch of the Detroit Public Library.

    http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/nahc/index.htm

    You make some obvious points Menno, but that was 1959. The auto industry is a completely different world from what it was then.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Hmm, apart from some ‘cult’ classics like the Delta Integrale and the Stratos, Lancia are only known in Europe (read Italy) for sticking high maintenance (sometimes Ferrari) engines in rust prone Fiats bodies, resulting in cars you love for 3 months, hate after the 1st service and sell after the first breakdown.
    Marry that to Chrysler… oh dear god. This will go horribly HORRIBLY wrong.

  • avatar
    menno

    Yes, autojunkie, 1959 was a different time, but the human race never changes.

    People who don’t learn from history, are bound to repeat it.

    AMC’s Rambler lines out-sold Chrysler’s Plymouth lines in the early 1960′s for awhile. AMC production (and sales) increased 35% in 1960, the model year that the big-3 introduced their compacts to compete with Rambler. By 1961, the AMC plant had expanded to the point where it was the largest auto plant in the United States. 1962 sales was up 12% YOY. 1963 brought another expansion to their factory as well as all-new cars (and Motor Trend’s Car of the Year). AMC was extremely profitable from 1958-1963.

    A much more recent success story is Hyundai, which also came back from near death in this country, to turn around and which now has 7% of the auto market.


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