By on November 2, 2012

Sergio Marchionne announced a drastic reorganization of Fiat. In a teleconference today, Marchionne announced the end of Lancia among a wide-ranging change of the company’s brand and model strategy.

According to a report in Automobilwoche.de [sub], the changes are:

  • Lancia will be terminated.
  • Alfa Romeo and Maserati will target  the premium segment.
  • Fiat will focus on the Fiat 500 and the Panda. In a strategy similar to BMW’s Mini, a number of derivatives will be built. Fiat turns into a small car brand.
  • Jeep will broaden its product portfolio and its global reach.

For this and next year, Fiat-Chrysler expects  an operative loss of $900 million. Marchionne does not expect a profit before 2015 or 2016, Automobilwoche says.

A Chrysler spokesman told Germany’s Focus Magazin that „the Lancia brand will live on.” Whether Fiat will invest a lot of money into the brand is questionable, the spokesman said. Lancia had been kept on life support with rebadged Chrysler models.  The last real new Lancia was the new generation of the Ypsilon compact.

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71 Comments on “Marchionne Kills Lancia...”


  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    So the final Lancias will be re-badged Chyslers. This is almost as ignominious an end as the 1958 Packardbakers.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    Sad, but not surprising. Lancia has been on life support everywhere outside the Italian domestic market for decades – Fiat actually decided to keep the Chrysler nameplate as their mainstream premium brand in the UK and Ireland because it was better regarded there than Lancia. Think about THAT one for a second.

    The Fiat brand has always struggled to really shift anything bigger than a US compact (small family car in the UK). The midsized Croma, Tempra, and Marea were basically total flops outside Italy, and the brand has shown no inclination of ever returning to that segment. This just makes it official.

    That said, who knows how this will shake out. The article says that the Lancia Ypsilon will be retained, since it is such a runaway success in Italy and the only model the brand has with any real market share. Will it shift to the Fiat or Alfa Romeo brands? Will Lancia continue as a one-model marque for Italy only?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Really, even in Italy, Lancia has been struggling. But this explains why Marchionne’s “product offensive” detailed yesterday did not include any Lancia models, nor even a Punto replacement. Linea will be as high up as Fiat will go.

      Sad as the end is for Lancia, this is really the first logical brand management step Marchionne has taken in Europe. But he now needs to spend some real money to make Alfa relevant above the Golf class. The Giulia should hopefully be a good first step, but the 4C and roadster won’t add any meaningful volume.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      FIAT actually oversaw killing Lancia not long after taking ownership. Someone with a longer perspective may even say that Lancia was dying as an independent. The UK was Lancia’s most important export market and the Beta of 1972 destroyed their reputation, primarily because of rust issues. The Gamma delivered a one-two punch with its timing belt driven power steering pump, which had a habit of crashing valves into pistons on tight turns. That nobody’s had the courage to turn off the lights in the last 30 years says something about FIAT and then Fiat’s management and Italian labor laws.

  • avatar
    niky

    Ouch. But it has been a long time since Lancia was relevant.

    Why not continue using the brand to market Chryslers in Europe?

    • 0 avatar
      Lampredi

      “Why not continue using the brand to market Chryslers in Europe?”

      From what I’ve understood, that’s exactly what’s going to happen – and it already has been for some time, the Chrysler 300, 200 cabriolet and the Town & Country aka Voyager are sold as Lancias in Europe – though I suppose in an even more half-hearted way than before (as if that were possible…).

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I think they’ll just convert the Lancia dealers to Chrysler dealers, and they can sell exactly the same cars as before (including the “Chrysler Ypsilon”), just with a Chrysler grille instead of the Lancia one.

      Chrysler and Fiat can easily become global brands, and Jeep already is one. Alfa and Maserati need more work still, Maserati’s volumes are stuck below those of Bentley, and at a significantly lower price point. And Alfa needs more product …

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        So it appears I was wrong on this … the Lancia brand will still exist in continental Europe, but all cars bar the current Ypsilon will be rebranded Chryslers. No new Lancia-specific models, and it looks like the Delta will be dead soon enough, too.

        http://gazzettadireggio.gelocal.it/cronaca/2012/11/01/news/la-lancia-ha-perso-il-suo-appeal-1.5960118

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        @th009

        That’s more like the story I saw elsewhere, but the German article linked above seemed to be more along the lines of Lancia disappearing entirely, which really would be news, since that’s the first time Marchionne ever said anything like that.

        If the other story is still really the case, than this whole thing is a lot of fuss over nothing – Fiat already said a year ago that all new Lancias would be rebadged Chryslers.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Let the Dodge death watch begin – with trucks now “RAM”, sports cars “SRT”, suv’s are Jeep and minivans over to Chrysler, Dodge’s days are numbered….

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Spot-on. “Dodge” no longer means a thing with the stupid (to me) “Ram” moniker, sooooooo for Chrysler’s smaller cars, that is non-300s, how about a new brand? Call it “Plymouth”!

      • 0 avatar
        moedaman

        “sooooooo for Chrysler’s smaller cars, that is non-300s, how about a new brand? Call it “Plymouth”!”

        Chrysler hasn’t meant “premium” for a long time. So there is no need for Dodge or bringing back Plymouth. Fiat will be the small car brand and Alfa Romeo will compete with Buick, Volvo and Acura. The Italian models will be the top and bottom of what will be sold at a Chrysler dealership.

        Alfa Romeo
        Chrysler
        Jeep
        Ram
        Fiat

        This is probably the line-up for the rest of the world too, except in Europe where Chrysler will be re-branded Lancia and Ram won’t be available.

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        @moedaman

        Except that Chrysler is being seriously repositioned as a premium product – it’s especially evident in the 300, but the new 200 and 100 models that were previewed to dealers will continue the theme. Chryslers will become gradually more expensive (read: higher margin), more sophisticated, and better finished with each successive generation. The switch away from names like Sebring and PT Cruiser in favor of Roveresque numbers like 200 and 100 is a part of the premium move.

        The death of Lancia may complicate things a bit though, as the plan was for the two to share all future models with each brand occupying the same place in the market on their own continent. Now, there will be no brand for Chrysler to share models with and it remains to be seen if their volume can justify unique designs.

        With Fiat focusing on small cars, they may still need Dodge around to sell the bread and butter midsize cars and sub-premium crossovers and full-size sedans. That’s if the plan to move Chrysler back up-market survives, if not, then, yes, Dodge is dead.

  • avatar
    rodface

    What is that Ferrari?

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Last month 40,611 Dodge were sold, just slightly behind KIA and ahead of VW and Subaru. I bet Ralph Gilles would call Bulls#it on doing away with Dodge.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      We’ve got 3 Dodge vehicles in the family, so I’m hoping they don’t go extinct– but; How many Plymouths were sold the month before they were done away with?

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Why on earth would you do away with a brand that’s selling better than VW or Subaru?
      Let’s face it- Ralph Gilles was right and Donald Trump was blowing smoke out his rear as usual.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Take out all the models which are moving to other brands or are not being replaced, and you are left with the dart and the charger, or about 10,000 units. The only new dodge model sergio has mentioned is some sort of people mover.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Yeah, some sort of people mover, the next Dodge Caravan, the best selling and most successful minivan of all time!

        The next Dodge Journey will also be a longer version of the new Cherokee like the Durango is to the Grand Cherokee and yes, the Durango is getting racetrack tailights.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Basically, can Jeep, Ram, and Caravans/Town and Countries keep Fiat alive in these lean times? Yes the 300 is bad-ass, the Challenger is retro cool, and I’ve though about leasing a 500 as dd. The first three I mentioned will need to cash cows. Yes, a c-note a month to lease a 500 or may have just lost mind.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Lancia will disappear and nobody will notice.

  • avatar
    Viquitor

    Dodge won’t go anywhere. This would be a stupid move. Plymouth was dead man walking; Dodge is not.

    If they plan to turn Fiat into a small car company, then it´s Dodge that will market the next Punto, Bravo and Linea.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Wait, I see a small even by European standards car, A cheap and small by European standards car, a premium make, a premium/borderline exotic make, and Jeeps.

    That leaves a pretty fair sized gap in the model lineup. What of the Punto and Multipla sized offerings (names may have changed since I moved) and the other sizes of cars that a large portion of even the small car loving Europeans drive?

    On the plus side, might we see the 4×4 Panda as a Jeep here?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      The current Punto was introduced in 2005, and Marchionne’s 2015 plan does not include a replacement, so I expect that the Linea hatchback will replace the Punto.

      The Multiple was effectively replaced by the Fiat Freemont (nee Dodge Journey).

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        Which Linea what we are talking about here? The Linea is the current Punto’s sedan version. The Viaggio, that is supposed to be called Linea in some markets – at least that’s what I’ve heard – is bigger and roomier, much closer to the Bravo.

        I think there’ll be a hatchback Dodge Dart somewhere down the line, maybe after the Chrysler 100 hits the market. And that car will replace the Fiat Bravo.

        But the next Punto still is a big question mark for me. The fact that the project 326, the new Palio, is still a Mercosul-only deal, might point to a new Punto based on that, much like the Panda is a tarted-up Novo Uno.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @Viquitor, so it looks like the Punto name will disappear and both the sedan and hatchback will be called Linea. It’s only a facelift so I don’t believe they will switch to the newer Dart/Viaggio) platform rather than the current (Punto/Linea/Opel Corsa) 2005-vintage platform.

        This is essentially the European view, though, so Latin America may get a different selection of models, and North America certainly will. But, for Europe, no new Punto before 2016 — and with a Linea hatchback coming, I think that nameplate will be dead (in Europe).

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        @th009 I’ve never heard of a possible Linea hatchback, although I do see the point. Applying the Linea frontend to the Punto and bringing a fresher look to it does make some sense. I don’t know if dropping the Punto nameplate is a sensible move, though. It does carry some history. AFAIK, the Linea was never a hit outside Turkey.

        Anyway, both 327 and 326 were born in Brazil. The 327 originated the Novo Uno and later the New Panda. The 326 has been around for about a year now as the Novo Palio in Brazil and Argentina. It should be in Turkey by now. So what I can rationalize out of this is that somewhere in the near future the 326 will reach Europe as a New Punto, explaning why it didn’t reach Turkey already.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @Viquitor, I think no more Punto … read for yourself, and tell me what your conclusions are:

        http://europe.autonews.com/article/20121101/ANE/121109990/fiat-plans-big-product-offensive-in-2015

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        @th009 “The automaker’s real product push comes in 2015 when Fiat brand launches four new models: a refreshed Freemont large minivan, an updated Linea compact sedan, a hatchback Linea variant and another model as yet unspecified.

        Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20121101/ANE/121109990#ixzz2B5ySXPUU”

        I believe this is what you refer to. It looks as vague as some articles I usually read at Quatro Rodas. The thing is, the current Linea is the Punto’s sedan version. The differences are the trunk, the frontend and a few tweaks to the dashboard. The rest is the same. I think they politely avoided to say that the current Punto will see yet another facelift after 2015. There’s no other way to read that, since in reality there’s no such thing as a Linea platform. Either that or they are actually talking about the Viaggio as the next Linea.

        Be there as it may, Fiat must have a decent 208/Polo/Fiesta contender, and I don’t think a revamped Linea hatchback derivative is the answer. That might be that fourth unespecified model, who knows… It might even be 326 I was talking about.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @Viquitor, Yes, Linea and Punto are almost the same (though both height and wheelbase are somewhat different). I do agree on the facelift, to me it sounds like the Punto nameplate goes away, but it’s not really a big difference whether the hatchback is called Punto or Linea. (I don’t know which name has more value at this point.)

      326/Palio could make sense as the mystery model, and it would fit into the idea of Fiat focusing on small cars. But as you say, that doesn’t solve the problem of Punto/Linea getting very old …

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        @th009 Indeed.

      • 0 avatar
        iainthornton

        Punto is the more appealing of the two, certainly. And more widely recognised. I feel that this Punto would’ve had a real shot with better engines and a bit less weight. No one wants a rough, coarse 1.4 litre 8-valve with less power than rival 1.2s. However Peugeot and Fiat continue with them. I only presume because their home markets primarily favour diesel anyway – they focus on that.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        In Italy (which accounts for about 30% of Fiat’s total volume in Europe), Fiat is on pace to sell this year …
        - 135K Pandas (#1 in Italy in August)
        - 95K Puntos (#2)
        - 50K 500s (#3)
        ( … a big gap … )
        - 15K Bravos (#20)
        - 15K Freemonts (#26)
        - 13K Qubos (#39)
        - 6K 500Ls (#25)

        That’s all that fits in the top 50, Sedici and Doblo don’t make the list and the Linea is not currently sold in Italy.

        How old are these models?
        2005: Punto
        2007: Bravo
        2007: 500
        2007: Freemont (as Dodge Journey)
        2007: Qubo (as Fiat Fiorino)
        2007: Linea
        2012: Panda
        2012: 500L

        The gap between the product offensive of 2007 and today is rather painfully clear …

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        @th009 Yes, it is. But the Bravo is the one that stands out as a major failure. I don’t think they had high expectations for the Freemont or the Qubo, and the 500L has just hit the marketplace.

        Also these numbers show just how important the Punto is to Fiat. Its replacement is crucial in so many ways that I just can’t believe they are being so neglectful.

        What they really need is a bigger car, based on a widened 326 platform, to replace both the Punto and the Bravo – a Fiat Sandero of some sort. Name it the Tipo, and call it a day. I’m sure it will sell.

        And then leave the real Bravo replacement/Golf contender to Alfa Romeo or whatever is left of the whole Lancia/Chrysler mess.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @Viquitor, I think your plan just might work. We should hope that Marchionne is reading TTAC!

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        @th009 They read us, they all do :)

  • avatar
    Magnusmaster

    Last time I’ve heard the new Punto was delayed until 2014. The Dart-based hatchback will replace the Bravo.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      No Punto or Bravo in the plan Marchionne presented. The Dart-based hatchback may be an Alfa — Giulia is to be Dart-based after all.

      • 0 avatar
        Magnusmaster

        The Bravo replacement won’t carry the same nameplate. I really doubt they’re making a hatchback Giulia. I’m really surprised that they’re axing the Punto. Not only they were developing it for years, it’s also a really dumb idea. It’s one of their few models that sell well. No one in their right mind would kill it.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Either they are killing it or they are just allowing it to die slowly from neglect. The Punto will be 10 years old in 2015, and there is no redesign in sight.

        At the high level Marchionne’s plan is logical but there are a number of unclear bits, such as the fate of the (successful) Punto and (rather less than successful) Bravo. No replacements for either one in the next three years, but we don’t know whether they’ll soldier on or be killed.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    The Panda as a more practical small car here made much more sense to me than the Fiat 500, which is really only useful for being cute (see PT Cruiser).

    I put the 500 in the same category in the Smart car — too small to be practical, crappy ride (assuming it’s not Abarth), crappy mileage. There are any number of cars that are better, even if they make less of a fashion statement. The Panda would be one of them.

  • avatar
    stuki

    With Lotus and Lancia both seemingly at the end of the rope; I guess it’s official: There’s just not much of a market for light and uncompromising cars anymore.

    My first gofast experience, was in my uncle’s improbably hopped up Stratos, set up for hillclimbs. I remember him saying he had 600 horses in that thing, and although I suspect horses back then weren’t what they are now, that car sure was fast. About the size and weight of an Elise too, if I remember correctly.

    • 0 avatar
      Viquitor

      Lancia’s last lightwheight and uncompromised car was the Montecarlo. In fact, since the Mk.1 Delta Lancia never had a true interesting car. Lancia and Alfa Romeo should never had been part of the same group.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I really like Montecarlos, but the first series cars were so compromised and had such treacherous braking systems that Lancia actually suspended production for almost two years while they sorted out the issues. Sadly for the US, the Scorpion didn’t see a second series so our cars all have the overboosted front brakes in addition to the added weight of US safety and bumper gear exacerbated by an engine 2/3rds as powerful as the Montecarlo’s. Had production of the Scorpion resumed, we’d also have received a version of the far more powerful 2 liter engine used in Europe and fitted to later US Betas.

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    So Marchionne says Lancia is kaput, but then a Chrysler guy says Lancia will live on. Which one is it? Though I’d hate to see Lancia go, I could understand the decision.

    • 0 avatar
      Viquitor

      Lancia died the very day they decided to make the Mk.2 Delta softer and less sporty to avoid going after the Alfa 145/146.

      Or even before that. I’d rather see Chryslers in continental Europe. At least the Lancia brand could die in peace.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Died of too much stodgy ugliness… After all, once the bankers started driving bugatti’s, the market for a pope limo was just too limited.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Lancia will live on, sort of the way an organ donor lives on after a fatal car crash. Plymouth hasn’t been missed and neither will Lancia.

  • avatar
    Les

    “Jeep will broaden its product portfolio…”

    Does anyone else feel nervous about this?

  • avatar
    haenschen

    I will miss Lancia. The Montecarlo/Scorpion has to be one of the most underrated bodystyles in the last fifty years, it turns heads on the street like those Italian nameplates with far higher price tags.

    • 0 avatar
      packard

      I owned a 1976 Beta Scorpion for 15 years. I agree the design was superlative. (It did win Car of the Year for 1976). The car did have some weak points. The production was limited and bodies and interiors were hand made. The fit and finish were rather crude and would not be acceptable today. The engine and transmission( as modified by Lancia) were Fiat and very robust. Horsepower was only 86 from an engine that suffered from the crude emission systems of the day- air pump and old fashioned cat. converter with overheat indicator (Warning light said “Slow Down”). I was in the Lancia Club and most Scorpion owners ended up removing the cat and air pump and replacing the cams and carb. This got you approximately 100 hp and the performance was greatly improved- though you did not have real power until 3500 rpms. Body integrity was good for the time. I bought my car used in 1983 for $4500.00 the list price new was over $14K in 1976.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I’ve never seen a Montecarlo on a street, but there were less than 10K cars built, so it’s little wonder.

      I still occasionally see Delta Integrales when visiting Tokyo. Very purposeful, a successful rally car, and with the Giugiaro design touch, like its contemporary, the Audi Quattro.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    And Motor Trend is now reporting that stories of Lancia’s death were greatly exaggerated. Fiat is now saying that what Marchionne meant to say was that the Ypsilon will continue as the only Lancia-exclusive model, but that all other future Lancias will be codeveloped as Chryslers.

    In other words, the plan for the brand is exactly the same as it’s always been – the same models will be Chryslers in North America and Lancias in Europe – and this was ultimately a lot of fuss over nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      Viquitor

      Meaning “Lancia is not really gone, but instead will be a badge-engineering thing, and the Ypsilon will be around for as long as we can sell it”.

      That sounds a lot like “You know that company that made the Aurelia, that introduced the V6 layout to the world, that made the Beta, the Stratos, the Delta Integrale, and that had that amazing Ferrari-powered sedan? So… Now it’ll sell american cars that nobody really wants in Europe”. That sounds like a dead brand to me, it there ever was one.

      But who knows? Maybe they’ll make an AWD Chrysler 100 to be sold as a Delta Integrale in Europe. I can’t help but to feel sorry for the HF.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      “co-developed” is a lovely word but I think we can pretty safely assume that the cars will be developed in the US, focused on the US market, and the European contribution will consist of swapping the Chrysler grille for a Lancia one.

      I agree with Viquitor, it’s an ignominious end for a storied marque.

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        Yes, but keep in mind that all Chrysler products smaller than the 300 will essentially ride on Fiat platforms from here out, and all engines smaller than a V6 will likewise be Fiat designs, so even the “American” Chryslers will have a lot of Italian blood in them.

        However, it is true that Lancia no longer has any dedicated team of stylists and that all development spending will come from Chrysler’s budget, so yes, they will be designed as Chryslers first and rebadged later. Lancia’s primary contribution will be that blue badge on the grille.

  • avatar
    packard

    The Montecarlo was called the Lancia Scorpion in the US because
    Chevrolet had obtained the right to use that name. As with many low production autos, people keep them even if they are not in good condition. You will see Scorpions for sale in Hemmings from time to time. It seems every car has been modified to an extent- probably impossible to find a factory original (if any one would really want the original).

  • avatar
    Jacob

    This is really sad. I am still having wet dreams about driving a mean Lancia Delta Integrale rally car from early 90s. However, as others pointed, not completely unexpected. Lancia was a great, iconic brand, but driven into ground by inept Fiat management. Fiat is the pre-bankruptcy GM of Italy. Lancia was their Oldsmobile. It belonged to that strange amorphous niche that’s supposed to be more luxury than the Italy’s Chevrolet (Fiat), but more affordable than Fiat’s luxury brand, Alfa. To make things worse, all three brands shared platforms and some cars looked like outright badge engineering works, like older Fiat Croma/Lancia Thema (shared with the original Saab 9000). Very GM-esque.

    • 0 avatar
      Viquitor

      The Fiat-GM comparison is not that out of place, but there’s one thing that does not translate to reality. Whereas GM was Durant’s brainchild, Fiat Auto SpA was formed in a much different way.

      Moreover, it really hurts for us gearheads that Lancia is going the Saab way (how ironic, isn’t it?). But in truth that’s just Fiat accomodating Chrysler brands within its current marketing structure. Aside our fond memories of Deltas, Betas and the like, Lancia’s offerings since the late 1990′s are quite similar to what Chrysler stands for as a brand.

  • avatar
    KrisT

    Who would have thought when they grafted Autobianchi onto Lancia in the mid 80s with the Y10, that it would be the sole remaining branch of of the brand. In a sense Autobianchi has survived and Lancia has not.

    As Autobianchi was often used to test fledgling ideas before transferring them to the more critical Fiats perhaps they may be tempted to be a little more adventurous with their sole remaining Lancia.
    Who am I kidding it will probably just wither on the vine.

  • avatar

    I remember having a good laugh at the UK Top Gear program devoted to Lancia, a marque which the presenters all loved. This was hard to understand as the various models featured all fell apart or blew up in the usual Top Gear way, as I recall. But I will never forget seeing an Alitalia Stratos HF rally car in the streets of Geneva, Switzerland in 1974, shaking windows as it rolled by.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    They should pop out a few Stratos HF street legal models before they go away for good. In that sweet orange color too.


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