See this ad for Lancia and/or world peace? Now check out the first post-bankruptcy Chrysler brand advertisement here. Noticing any similarities? It seems that there’s trouble brewing in the Fiat family, and “Don” Marchionne has strongly suggested that the new boy to the family, Chrysler, could take over some of Lancia’s profile. Automotive News [sub] reports that the Chrysler brand will appear on Lancias (A.K.A rebadging) in many international markets, and that Lancias could become a niche marque.
“We need to be very careful that we don’t destroy Lancia’s roots, to find a way to preserve the identity of Lancia through an agreement that commonises as much of the portfolio as possible (with Chrysler),” Marchionne said.
Autonews posits 2 possibilities. The first possibility is that Lancia is used in limited markets such as Belgium, France and Italy. Particularly Italy. Last year, Lancia sold 103,000 cars, 93,000 of which were sold in Italy. This possibility doesn’t really make sense as last year, in Europe, only 29,000 Chrysler branded cars were sold. So, on the face of it, the Lancia marque has more value than the Chrysler marque. The second possibility is that Lancia is moved to become an upscale brand, within the Chrysler world. Much like Ford in Europe did with the Ghia marque. The problem with this scenario is that, as we established in possibility 1, Italy is still a strong market for Lancia and a move like this would damage the brand. It’s very much like Renault trying to reduce the Nissan badge to a sub-brand with the Renault sphere.
But Mr Marchionne hasn’t committed to anything yet. He is waiting for Chrysler to release the new 300C, Sebring and Voyager minivan (A.K.A the Town and Country) before he starts playing musical marques. “We need to see product, we need to see positioning and based on that we can make a decision,” he said. Too many brands and not enough market to maintain them? Haven’t we been here before….?