The Truth About Cars » Lancia The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:00:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Lancia Lancia Languishing On Life Support, Down To One Model Fri, 23 May 2014 16:15:47 +0000 110524-l-newypsilon-24-1

Notably absent from FCA’s 5-year plan was Lancia. The Italian brand known for iconic models like the Aurelia, Fulvia and Delta Integrale will be pared down to one model that will be sold in Italy only.

Lancia currently offers the Ypsilon subcompact, the Delta hatchback, the Thema (based on the Chrysler 300), and the Voyager (based on the Chrysler fans). A report by Bloomberg confirms that after this year, only the Ypsilon will remain. Lack of demand, a weak car market in Europe and intense competition from a record number of brands all conspired to bring about Lancia’s downfall – not to mention an odd, ill-defined lineup that failed to establish a rock solid identity or any semblance of a value proposition.

That identity has so far kept Alfa Romeo from the same fate as Lancia – even though they arguably suffer from the same external forces. But that’s allowed Alfa Romeo to establish a tenuous foothold in global markets, while Lancia’s appeal is confined only to its home country.


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QOTD: Italian Government Auctions 1,500 Cars. What’s Your Pick? Fri, 28 Mar 2014 22:28:45 +0000 20140328_italy2

Via Zero Hedge, we have a listing put up by the Italian government of 1,500 luxury cars that are being auctioned off. Italy, which is deep in the throes of austerity, is doing the wise thing from an optics perspective, as the cars have come to symbolize government waste and unnecessary opulence.

While most of the stock consists of diesel Alfa Romeo 166 and Lancia Thesis models, there are some oddities at both ends of the spectrum. Random Italian detritus, like the Fiat Croma and Lancia Dedra, populates the ranks as well, along with a few BMW 525d sedans. There are also a number of Maserati Quattroportes (apparently procured because they were the cheapest armored sedans available….right) as well as a Jaguar S-Type R.

You can peruse the Ebay listings here, and tell us what you’d pick out of the current lot of 25 cars. At first glance, the Thesis would have been my choice, but they appear to be automatics. The Alfa’s seem to be stick shift, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s a no brainer. If only they were wagons.

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Piston Slap: The Awful Side Effect of Being Really, REALLY Good Looking Mon, 30 Sep 2013 12:00:20 +0000

Tim writes:


One of the awful side effects of being really really good looking is that you tend to have lots of kids; and four kids later I find myself driving a VW Touran. It is the sensible-shoes option for the sexually successful in Europe- cheap to buy, cheap to run. Drinking in the TTAC cool aid, on a recent trip to the USA I booked a Lincoln Town Car for the six of us from Hertz, and ended up in a Dodge Durango; after which I have found a bit of red on my neck.

Its generosity of proportion, it’s easy livin’ spec (TV for the kids, keyless entry, self-opening boot, sat nav, sirus music…) made the trip back from the airport car park miserable. What car available in Europe makes family life easier (excluding stupendously expensive premium SUVs) if you have already mated; and thus do not need to tick the ego boxes of looks, brand and image.



Sajeev answers:

And here I thought you sexually successful people in Europe had more restraint, less braggadocio than us crude chaps in the States!  Did Clarkson lie to us Yanks about our relative horrible-ness?

That said, how can you go wrong with a Chrysler Voyager in Europe?  Considering your stunning “prowess” and the accompanying lack of ego (Porsche Cayenne, please?) that’s simply not possible. This Autocar review is a fair assessment of our USA breadwinner, relative to the mainstream MPVs in your home continent.

Sure, the Ford Galaxy/S-Max, Seat Alhambra, VW Sharan and Vauxhall Zafira Tourer and all the rest possess sensible Euro styling sensibilities and (probably) superior diesel engines, but you don’t need that shit. You need the Yankee van with the fold into the floor seats. Because it is bad ass. It’s what embodies the American Spirit.  All the goodies available in Chrysler’s breadwinner add to your hustle game, with no red-necked side effects.

More to the point, you’d drive the Voyager as I do with TTAC’s Rio Brown 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia: hipster ironically.  Need an example to prove the point?

Here I am parked at BP’s H-town headquarters enjoying a little break before tackling the pictured roundabout.  While I’d normally give the task to my Texa-Guido Lincoln Mark VIII, the Ford Sierra was the more ironic choice. No doubt the displaced Brit that felt the need to add some “London” to Houston agrees with my choice.


Tim, my friend, you could be this self-aware. You could be me and the Sierra: easily reproducing this in a Voyager somewhere near your place of residence. You gotta do it, to it…Son!


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.


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Thomas Kreutzer Interviews Thomas Kreutzer And Finds Common Ground Tue, 25 Jun 2013 14:19:05 +0000 kreutzer

I have a confession to make. In the wee hours, while my wife and children sleep, I often start my computer and do what I many men do when they finally have a moment of privacy at the end of a long day, I Google myself. Much to my surprise, it turns out that there are more Thomas Kreutzers in the world than I ever imagined. One of my namesake is a real estate agent in Kokomo Indiana while another is a member of a German world championship darts team. One Thomas Kreutzer is a community minded plumbing contractor in Woodbridge, VA and yet another, who lives in Florida, runs a video production company. However, the be all end all of Thomas Kreutzers, it seems to me, is in Germany and, like yours truly, he just happens to have a special interest in often derided small car. Creepy, huh?

Thomas Kreutzer’s website, The Lancia-Beta Bastler, is filled with photos of the man himself piloting his small, red coupe around the roads of Germany. It is a neat looking little car, and I can see the attraction, but if that’s all it was I’d have given it a quick once-over and kept on Googling. But Thomas doesn’t just drive these cars, he rebuilds also them from the ground up and, based on the many photos of him forming sheet metal and standing over a disassembled engine, it appears he does all the work himself. That got my full attention and, naturally I wrote to him.

Despite the language difference between us, Thomas graciously responded to my first tentative email in what he calls “school boy English.” and told me his story. In 1966, when he was just two years old, Thomas’ parents purchased a combination gasoline station/car dealership in the German wine country and there, in his own words, he grew up with cars and petrol. His father, he says, raced everything with wheels. He began in a Skoda and eventually moved to Formula V, a series in which all the cars used engines from Volkswagen Beetles, but ultimately he had his greatest success in the kind of cars they sold, the Autobianchi A112. Later, Autobianchi was purchased by Lancia and so the Kreutzer family began to sell that mark as well and young Thomas was soon smitten.

Autobianchi Magazin 1981

According to Thomas, his family picked up a few other brands throughout the years and, alongside the Lancias, they were soon selling Toyota and Diahatsu as well. By the mid ‘80s, Toyota was sending their family cars like the AE86 Corolla and Thomas drove them all, but his fondness for Lancia remained. They were all good for their time, he says, but from his perspective the Lancia offered a special blend of sportiness, styling and luxury that the others lacked. Over time, his fondness for the brand grew into the passion he feels for the cars today.

Thomas says that Lanica is not especially popular among German enthusiasts. Italian cars, he tells me, are reputed to be unreliable and are especially prone to rust. To make matters worse, Lancia lacks any kind of real support network in the country and fans of the brand are reduced to scrounging around for the bits and pieces they need to repair their cars. Many people join clubs but Thomas tells me he prefers to go it alone. He is, he states, “a single fighter,” but he does help others when they find his website and ask for help.


Despite his family’s proud automotive history, Thomas is, by trade, a tool and die maker and he tells me that his training taught him a great deal about metal working. This skill has proven to be especially applicable to his hobby as there are no ready-made replacement panels for Lancia on the market and any body work he undertakes means remaking the entire panel, every crease and curve, by hand. Actual wrenching, ‘the screws of the car” as he put it, he taught himself and his most challenging mechanical work happened when he rebuilt a turbo charged 1990 Lancia Turbo engine and then stuffed that engine into a 1970 body, a task that also required a handmade a wire harness in order to bridge a technological gap almost two decades wide. The key to his work, he said, is to be methodical, go slowly and take lots of photos.

When I asked why he chose to stick with the often quirky, unsupported Lanica when Germany produces so many fine sports cars, Thomas’ answer told me a great deal about the man himself. German cars, he said, are technically excellent but that they lack spirit. They are built with the head and not with the heart and all it takes to know the difference is a single drive. The sound the Lancia makes on the road is joyful and its music has worked it way into his heart.


In 1999 the Kreutzer family sold their business when Thomas decided that running it would hurt his family life. It was the right choice, he thinks, although he loves cars they are better as a hobby than a business. His own son, like many young people today, is more interested in computers than cars but Thomas’ wife is fully involved in the hobby. She has assisted with mechanical work like welding and casting various aluminum parts, handles all his hobby related correspondence, enjoys organizing special trips to Italy for parts and supplies and has even learned the Italian language in order to support his work with the cars. She sounds like a keeper.

Thomas Kreutzer and I are two people who are separated by the broad expanse of the Atlantic Ocean and kept apart by the often insurmountable gap of language and culture. Our shared name has brought us to one another’s attention, but our shared passion for odd little cars from our past has made us friends. I am glad that I took the time to write him, happier still that he took the time to write back. Perhaps one day we’ll have the opportunity to meet in person. With that in mind, I guess I should start studying German in my spare time.


Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He writes for any car website that will have him and enjoys public speaking. According to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

Ursula und Alfred Kreutzer A112 Daihatsu und Lancia Vertretung 1988 2 Bianchi Unfall Autobianchi Unfall Rennen Alfred Kreutzer Tankstelle Autobianchi Magazin 1981 ]]> 8
The Highlights of Amelia Island Tue, 12 Mar 2013 15:05:53 +0000

I’ve just returned from the Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance, which is among the finest annual events involving wealthy people who smoke cigars and stare longingly at the possessions of other wealthy people, smoking nicer cigars.

Of course, Amelia wasn’t all fun and cigar smoking. There was also some serious looking at stuff to be done, typically directly in front of others as they tried to take photographs. For those who couldn’t attend the event, allow me to guide you through the high points.

Let’s start away from the golf course and focus on what’s quickly becoming my favorite part of Amelia: the spectator cars. The best place to gawk at these is the parking garage of the host hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. Despite an obvious security presence in the garage, anyone appearing wealthy enough is allowed to walk through. Cigar possession isn’t required, but it helps.

The next three shots indicate all four types of vehicles you see in the garage: one, ultra luxury sedans. In fact, the garage’s four Maybachs represented about eleven percent of total production. Two, modern exotics. Three, vintage cars. And four, Chrysler sedans from the Jacksonville airport Hertz. That they could all coexist so peacefully should give hope to North and South Korea.

There is actually a fifth type of car in the garage at Amelia: manufacturer vehicles. These are driven by perky OEM reps attending the show for the eleventh year in the row – a crew who likes to eagerly announce to any spectators they meet that this is the “best year ever!” Here, you see a manufacturer-plated GL-Class parked next to some sort of antique baby carriage.

Just kidding. Of course, that’s the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, or – more likely – a fine replica. While it probably doesn’t require keys, don’t worry: a thief would be thwarted by any human with legs. Or possibly by the Amelia Island Police, who would excitedly use the slow-speed pursuit as an opportunity to finally put their PIT maneuver training to good use.

Neat Amelia spectator cars are also found in other places, as these three images show. From top to bottom, that’s an Aston Martin Vanquish S, a Lancia Stratos next to a more powerful four-wheel-drive car, and a Lamborghini Espada in a disabled parking spot. While I can’t tell if it has a disabled parking permit, perhaps the driver correctly believes we will assume he is visually handicapped due to his choice in cars. (Angry Espada owners flood the comments in 3… 2… 1…)


Inside the event, things were just as exciting as outside. One of the highlights was the Brumos Collection’s Porsche 959, which sported its original checkered flag seats – a novelty in the ‘80s that’s aged just a bit poorly.

Fun 959 fact: each car had six gears, but the gear lever only goes up to fifth. That’s because the 959’s first gear is an off-road crawler gear labeled “G,” which stood for “Gelände” (of Geländewagen fame), or, in English, “terrain.” Normal starts and downshifts could use first gear, which was in a dogleg position from second.

This year’s Amelia Concours also hosted a Ford GT40 reunion, which brought something like 14 GT40s together under the auspices of the model’s 50th anniversary. Car enthusiasts needed no excuse to enjoy the sea of Gulf Blue.

My personal favorite car was this Lamborghini 400GT, displayed by New York City MTA chairman Peter Kalikow. Although I was on hand to see Peter open up the trunk, I decided this wouldn’t be the appropriate time to complain about rising subway fares.

McLaren showed this F1 road car, which wowed everyone in attendance due to its rarity, center seating position and gullwing doors. Interestingly, this homage to McLaren’s road car history didn’t include the Mercedes SLR. Hmm. Wonder why.

This Bentley wagon appealed to those of us who like British cars and station wagons. According to the description, the original owner also had a custom-made early S-Class wagon, proving that eccentric wagon lovers existed as far back as the 1950s.

A final highlight was this 1963 Corvette Grand Sport, which was probably the meanest-looking car at Amelia. It also provided a little history lesson about the Corvette Grand Sport name. Back then: double the power, 800-pound weight reduction, five built. Today: side gills. This should come as no surprise from the brand that revived the Monte Carlo name for two-door Lumina.

With the sun and warmth of Amelia behind us, the Concours crowd turns its sights to Lake Como, the world’s most beautiful place, which will host the Villa d’Este Concours in May. For those who can’t make the trek, the ever-present drizzle of Pebble Beach is just five months away. Ready your cigars.

Doug DeMuro operates He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, roadtripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute laptime on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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Chrysler To Enter America’s Favorite Closed Market Mon, 19 Nov 2012 15:41:52 +0000

Japan, everyone’s favorite closed market, is about to get a couple new products from Chrysler, which will return to the market after a nearly four year absence.

Just-Auto reports that the first Pentastar products introduced will be the 300 and the Lancia-based Ypsilon, badged as a Chrysler. The Ypsilon will come with Fiat’s TwinAir 0.9L two-cylinder engine, while the 300′s large size and large displacement engines likely won’t help it endear itself to Japanese consumers.

Foreign cars, save for tier-one luxury brands, traditionally struggle in Japan for one reason; conformity. The Japanese place a high value on this trait, and buying a foreign car is often equated with some sort of iconoclastic statement. But there are exceptions to the rule – a European luxury car or sports car is appropriate, and anything British tends to get a pass (witness the success of Mini and Lotus in Japan). Volkswagen has also been enjoying some success with its Up! minicar.

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CAW Workers Ratify Chrysler Agreement As The Countdown To 2016 Begins Mon, 01 Oct 2012 14:19:49 +0000

Workers at Chrysler plants in Windsor and Brampton, Ontario ratified the CAW’s labor agreement by an overwhelming majority, despite a lack of new product or investment at either plant.

A new paint shop and a third shift at the Brampton Assembly Plant were rumored in the run-up to the deal, but neither materialized. While current jobs are protected under the agreement, what happens after its expiration at the end of 2016 is now the question on the minds of everyone from plant workers to industry observers.

When we last left off, I put forward the theory that Chrysler could move production of the LX cars to Italy, alongside the rumored baby Jeep that is thought to be part of their plan to export Italian-built cars to North America. TTAC readers suggested that this was a stretch, and the more likely candidate was Mexico. This isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but the question of “what will be built in Italy?” is a big question mark staring us all in the face.

In the mean time, CAW President Ken Lewenza will pursue his “National Auto Policy“, which demands that the government devalue the Canadian dollar, suspend free trade talks with Japan and South Korea and take equity stakes in OEMs. When the CAW’s Auto Policy initiative was first floated back in April, The Globe and Mail dubbed it “retrograde“, and some of its tenets, like devaluing Canada’s currency, seem totally implausible to the point where it’s difficult to take the proposal seriously. At best, it’s merely a distraction from the lack of meaningful gains with Chrysler in the areas of product and investment. At worst, it’s a foolish idea with little grounding in reality that will only serve to expedite the process of sending jobs abroad.

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Italy Says “Vaffanculo” To Lancia’s Rebadged Chrysler 300 Fri, 18 May 2012 13:16:50 +0000

Nobody said it would be easy to sell a rebadged American large car in America, but with the recent economic hammering that Italy and other countries have endured, the market for the Lancia Thema, a rebadged Chrysler 300, is suffering in Italy and the rest of Europe.

Italy enacted a luxury tax on January 1st that will be slapped on vehicles making 252 horsepower or more. Buyers of the Thema would have to pay 500 euro per year due to its 285 horsepower rating. Even though a tax-exempt diesel version is offered, the Thema is faring poorly, along with the rest of the large car market, which is down 75 percent compared to 2011. The Thema is selling 25 percent of what was expected

Two other Lancia vehicles that began life as Chryslers are seeing mixed results. The Lancia Voyager, a rebadged Chrysler Town & Country, is suffering because its traditional client base, like hotel operators, are holding off due to economic uncertainty. The Fiat Fremont, a rebadged Dodge Journey, is doing fairly well, due to a bigger marketing presence, a sticker price 20 percent cheaper than its predecessor and available all-wheel drive. The Fremont should hit its sales targets this year if sales can be sustained at current pace.

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Fiat May Stick To Small Cars Fri, 16 Mar 2012 16:31:09 +0000

Sergio Marchionne told Auto Express that Fiat may stick to small cars in the future, with vehicles like the 500L and the much-lauded Panda acting as Fiat’s “bigger” offerings. The reason behind the move appears to be greater consolidation with Chrysler and Fiat’s larger cars meeting a cool reception in the market.

“It could well be that Fiat never does a D-segment car again,” he admitted. “The [recently axed] Croma was a great car that could not get traction in the market.
I need to be careful not to push Fiat into territory it can’t manage. I have Alfa, Chrysler and Jeep that can all play there. We need to be faithful to Fiat’s DNA and its potential.”
Marchionne went on to cite the sales failure of the latest Fiat Croma as further evidence that the Fiat brand must stick to its knitting. With Marchionne somehow forget to mention that Lancia, with their re-badged Chrysler products, should also be a prime contender to sell D-Segment products


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Chrysler: Imported From Detroit. I Mean Turin. I Mean… Tue, 22 Nov 2011 21:43:38 +0000

Chrysler’s latest “Imported From Detroit” ad, which seems to be trying to convince itself to “see it through,” continues the brand’s recent tradition of associating itself (perhaps a bit too closely) with the trials and tribulations of the city of Detroit. That approach, like the 300 itself, might play well in parts of the US market… but Chrysler needs its cars (and ads) to do more. Imagine how this ad might go over in Berlin or Milan, and you might catch a glimpse of Chrysler’s larger challenge: making its cars relevant globally as both Chryslers and Lancias.

Chrysler’s marketing honcho Olivier Francois may think that Chrysler and Lancia combine to create a “superbrand,” but of course it’s not that easy.

After all, what on earth says Lancia about the new barely-disguised “Thema”? It seems that Mr Olivier was filled with the “see it through” spirit when he claimed that the two brands were a perfect match: necessity, not compatibility made the marriage between Chrysler and Lancia. And considering they combined for less volume than Alfa in the European market through the first three quarters of this year, it’s pretty clear that this shotgun marriage isn’t going much of anywhere. And no wonder: in the words of Robert Verganti, a management professor at Milan Polytechnic [via Bloomberg]

It’s extremely difficult to succeed in a strategy of globalizing design. The risk is making international cars with no personality. When you buy a Lancia, you are looking for a piece of Italy, and when you choose a Chrysler, you are getting a slice of America.

Which is why Fiat’s former Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa designer, Lorenzo Ramaciotti, has taken the lead on the Chrysler-Lancia branded design portfolio. If anyone is going to find designs that simultaneously says “Chrysler” and “Lancia,” it’s the guy who designed the Quattroporte, GranTourismo, F430, and Alfa 4C Concept… right? Says Ramaciotti

We are trying to find an international language, which could have a place both here in Italy and in the U.S. If you put all the models into the showroom, they must fit together. It’s a delicate problem. We don’t want to do pure badge-engineering; it has never worked well in the long runWe should be global in sharing platforms and strategies without dulling the product line.”

Well, if nothing else, there’s the proof we finally need that the only people who think rebadging can work are marketers with nothing else in their bag of tricks. In all seriousness, the fact that Fiat-Chrysler has someone with that perspective leading global Chrysler/Lancia design can only be a good sign. After all, I may not be a big fan of Mr Ramaciotti’s Maserati Kubang SUV, but at least it doesn’t look like a rebadge. Although speaking of the Kubang, Bloomberg’s conversation with Ramaciotti does bring up one other point that the old designer might not be able to do anything about: the fact that Chrysler’s large cars and SUVs may not sell well as Lancias regardless of their designs.

“People are coming into the showroom to have a look,” said Roberto Ferrari, who owns a Lancia dealer outside Milan. “Reactions are good. The Thema is pretty, design is attractive for Italians, too, but no one is buying these kinds of cars now,” because the debt crisis calls for understatement.

Lancia’s real problem is that 90% of its sales come from the next country in the Euro sovereign debt crisis line of fire. In that environment, any Lancia is going to face sales challenges, let alone a large, Chrysler-derived Lancia. With Europe reaping the whirlwind economically, perhaps now is the time for Fiat-Chrysler to bite the bullet, drop its weakest brand, and let Mr Ramaciotti get to work designing, passionate, lust-worthy Chryslers. Better to concentrate on creating Chryslers that are appealing the world over than to fret over how to Americanize European cars for Chrysler and Europeanize American cars for Lancia.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Lancia Beta Mon, 14 Feb 2011 14:00:04 +0000
The turnover of inventory at self-service junkyards near major West Coast ports is extremely quick, what with the hunger of Chinese industry for scrap steel; some yards keep vehicles for just a month or two before crushing them. This steel-company-owned yard in Oakland, California, gets some interesting machinery, but a Lancia Beta? I can’t recall the last time I saw a Beta in any condition, but Volvo parts hunter David ran across this ’78 while seeking parts for his 240.

What would have led an American car buyer in 1978 to pay $8,803, about a grand more than a new Datsun 280Z and 500 bucks less than a new BMW 320i, for a notoriously rust-prone Italian orphan with just 86 horsepower and front-wheel-drive?

Speaking of rust, you don’t often see this sort of thing on California cars (unless they live within salt-spray range of the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco). According to David, who shot these photos for us, “The A pillars are shot through so badly that the windshield popped.”
DOTJ-OaklandLanciaBeta-10 DOTJ-OaklandLanciaBeta-01 DOTJ-OaklandLanciaBeta-02 DOTJ-OaklandLanciaBeta-03 DOTJ-OaklandLanciaBeta-04 DOTJ-OaklandLanciaBeta-05 DOTJ-OaklandLanciaBeta-06 DOTJ-OaklandLanciaBeta-07 DOTJ-OaklandLanciaBeta-08 DOTJ-OaklandLanciaBeta-09 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Introducing The Chrysler PT Corsa Wed, 24 Nov 2010 23:33:51 +0000

When Chrysler revealed its Five Year plan last year, product plans showed the PT Cruiser dieing off after 2010 with no planned replacement. Then, earlier this year, Chrysler rebadged a Lancia Delta and brought it along to the Detroit Auto Show without saying much about it. Now, Motor Trend says a production version of the Chryslerized Delta Concept will be shown at the next Geneva Auto Show, raising the possibility that the Lancia could come to the US… and soon. Sure, it’s possible that the Delta will simply be for other markets where the Lancia/Chrysler two-face will show its Chrysler side (the UK and Brazil come to mind), but Chrysler needs to beef up its US volume to keep the turnaround turning around. And that means not only replacing the PT, but bringing customers in with something new and fresh. Could a PT Corsa fit the bill?

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail chryslerptcorsa2 Picture 146 chryslerptcorsa1 Chrysler PT Corsa? chryslerptcorsa ]]> 27
Enough With The Lancia Stratos Already! Sat, 14 Aug 2010 17:47:22 +0000

OK, so we’ve been convinced that the re-born “Lancia Stratos” isn’t just a photoshop… but honestly, we wish it was. Because then the autoblogosphere might not have spent half the week running silly headlineslike “It’s Real!” and “Headed To Production!” and “My Sophisticated Appreciation For The Iconic Lancia Stratos Just Got All Over My Favorite Pair Of Blogging Sweatpants!” The reason that these headlines need to stop are simple: 1) Nobody will ever see this car on the road, 2) it will never be offered for sale, 3) It’s not even a freaking Lancia and 4) the entire story is so knee-deep in bullshit that it’s amazing anyone pays even the remotest bit of attention to it. And since we’re speaking truth to fanboyishness, I’ll just go ahead and say it : nobody actually wants a Lancia Stratos anyway… and even if they did, they certainly wouldn’t want this new one. Yes, you heard me.

Let’s take this point-by-point. How do we know that the Lancia Stratos will never be seen on the road? When have you ever seen an original, or even a replica Stratos on the road? They were barely road-legal to begin with, and by all accounts had savage road manners, were hideously unreliable, and now cost too much to even consider driving anywhere other than Pebble Beach or Concourses of equivalent elegance. Besides, one look at the new Stratos proves that it’s track-only at best… there are more crumple zones on a candy bar wrapper. And with a rumored Ferrari V8, its road manners, cabin space and reliability probably make the original look like Corolla. Which brings us to point two: this car is never going to actually be built.

The main reasons this car will not be built in any volume are that it can not be made street legal, it will cost an insane amount, like the original Stratos it can’t be that great to drive, and Lancia needs a Stratos in its lineup like it needs a hole in the head. Fiat’s already got Ferrari, Maser and Alfa to develop sporty cars, and Lancia is another name for rebadged Chryslers. A Stratos is as relevant to the Lancia brand as cocaine is to Coca-Cola.

Which is where we get to the copious amounts of bovine excrement floating around this story. The source for the entire story is ItaliaSpeed, a Fiat/Chrysler fan blog which insists that the new Stratos has been under development for four years and is being financed by a mysterious “European Industrialist.” Developing a bespoke short-wheelbase platform with a Ferrari V8 would cost an insane amount, especially if it was styled by Bertone and developed over the course of four years. Sure, it’s possible that a mysterious magnate thinks that a reborn Stratos is worth tens of millions of dollars, but if the story is true, this “industrialist” makes Jimmy Glickenhaus look like a model of tasteful, old-money restraint.

After all, with “at least” three prototypes running around, this is not just a one-off. And yet, for the reasons given above, it will never make regular series production. The costs of developing one, let alone three, prototypes would make this the most expensive privately-developed car in history. And for what? A car that couldn’t possibly be better than the $300k Ferrari that allegedly donated its engine, and is as original as a new Dodge Challenger? If, as seems to be the case, Fiat is somehow supporting this project, it’s a slap in the face for the struggling Alfa brand, which could have used the money spent on the Stratos to develop a distinctive new sportscar (preferably somewhat affordable) ahead of its US-market launch.

But even if this really is just the passionately wasteful project of some Angelli wastrel, it’s unoriginal and highly pointless. Unless these bespoke, Ferrari-powered Stratoses are actually going to be raced (profoundly unlikely for countless reasons), they’re destined to spend eternity in some underground garage in Bahrain after a couple of Pebble Beach appearances. Does that make this the heir to the barely-homologated Stratos, or a silly, masturbatory ego project? Based on the size of the internet circle jerk, the latter scenario seems far more likely.

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Montezemolo Out As Fiat Moves Towards Auto Spin-Off Tue, 20 Apr 2010 15:06:51 +0000

Fiat Chairman Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo will be leaving the firm to pursue a career in Italian politics, according to Automotive News [sub]. Montezemolo will remain on Fiat’s board, and will continue to serve as chairman of Ferrari, but he will be replaced atop the Fiat empire by vice-chairman and Agnelli family heir John Elkann. Fiat’s shares rallied considerably this morning, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, but not because Montezemolo is on the way out. Rather, Fiat has finally announced the news that speculators have been waiting patiently for: the firm now confirms that it plans to spin off its auto business.

Details of the spin-off are not immediately available, as Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne will not be presenting Fiat’s five-year plan until tomorrow. The spin-off is almost certain to center around Fiat, Abarth, Alfa-Romeo, and Lancia, although it appears that there may be a chance that Maserati could be bundled with Fiat Auto as well, despite being traditionally run as part of Ferrari. Fiat’s other industrial ventures, including its farm- and heavy-equipment manufacturing as well as its Iveco commercial vehicle unit will remain behind with the conglomerate. The main benefit of spinning-off Fiat’s auto business lays in future alliances: with a smaller market cap than the entire Fiat empire, a Fiat Auto unit could more easily enter equity exchanges and other alliances. Already holding a 20 percent stake in Chrysler (with up to 35 percent available for free), Fiat will likely use the spin-off to pursue greater control over the Auburn Hills-based automaker. And with Fiat’s auto business already generating half of the sprawling Fiat Group’s revenue according to the NYT, Marchionne clearly expects the newly spun-off unit to be leaner and more profitable. For now though, the most important variable in the future of Fiat auto isn’t even its spin-off or the replacement of its Chairman. Breaking Chrysler’s downward slump is key to Marchionne’s 5m-unit global survival strategy, and the gambit is far from paying off.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: The Pieces Fit But We’re Still Puzzled Edition Wed, 03 Mar 2010 13:58:50 +0000

It’s both annoying and strangely prophetic (we think) that Lancia and Chrysler don’t have one of those convenient “Brangelina” names, like Lancsler or Chrycia. Fiat’s execs aren’t exactly being subtle about the merging of the two brands, but then they’re also not giving us a lot of glimpses at the stunning execution that it will take to turn two marginal marques into a single, halfway viable brand. It’s almost as if the two are just being pushed together in a forced, unnatural manner, and the results thus far show a distinct lack of inspiration. Not convinced? Hit the jump for your morning glass of has it really come to this? [via].

If that’s a 5th Avenue, then I’m an excitable French branding guru with a tenuous grasp on American tastes. The weirdest part: someone forgot to take off the Lancia badge. In fact, this Lancia Musa has only one thing in common with the Chrysler 5th Avenue: a leather roof.

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A Note From The Editor On Our Most Recent Review Wed, 03 Feb 2010 14:28:38 +0000

Today’s review of the Fiat Bravo is more than just a unique look at a European-market vehicle that will never be sold in the United States: it’s an(other) early look at the future of Chrysler. Sergio Marchionne has called the C and D segments “critical” for US-market success, and the C-Evo platform that lies beneath the Fiat Bravo tested today, will form the basis for planned 2012 replacements to the Caliber and PT Cruiser and possibly the re-launched Sebring and Avenger (reportedly in stretched form). Indeed, the Lancia-trimmed version, known as the Delta, was shown at the Detroit Auto Show in Chrysler-brand drag, apparently to prove how easy these rebadges will be. As cynical as this might seem, Mr Bronfer’s relatively positive review leaves little doubt that Fiat’s got more to offer the C and D segments than the aging, neglected Mitsubishi platform that currently underpins Chrysler’s offerings in these classes. In that sense, this is some of the most positive news we’ve heard about Chrysler’s future in a while.

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Fiat Plans GM-Style Brand “Channel” For Alfa, Abarth and Maserati Thu, 21 Jan 2010 23:17:03 +0000

Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has a handful of brand management on his plate, as he aligns his two firms for the future. Merging Lancia and Chrysler was an obvious move; creating one full-line brand (albeit with different names from market to market) is a lot better than trying to keep two distinct brands, although even with their powers combined, Chrysler/Lancia is going to have an uphill struggle. With Lancia “taken care of,” the biggest problem on Fiat’s plate is Alfa Romeo, which has reportedly lost €200m-€400m per year for the last decade.

Marchionne put Alfa under strategic review at the beginning of December, saying the brand had a year to get its proverbial shit together. The two deathly options given to Alfa: a product freeze or rebadged Chryslers. Yikes! While Alfa’s leadership contemplates those charming optinos, Fiat has announced to Automotive News [sub] that Alfa, Abarth and Maserati will be placed under the leadership of Harald J. Wester, who is tasked with “identifying potential synergies” between Maserati and Alfa. Too bad then that, short of the limited-run 8C Competizione, those synergies are nonexistant. Meanwhile, Marchionne’s little empire is looking more and more like a cobbled-together proto-GM than ever before.

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Lancia-Chrysler Rebadging Imminent, Stand By For Sticker Shock Wed, 20 Jan 2010 16:58:10 +0000 Are you ready for the Chry-Delts?

“In Europe, Lancia is an undersized, underdeveloped brand, with nothing bigger than the Delta. Chrysler, which has a true global reach, has nothing smaller. Put them together and you have a full line-up,” is the short version of Sergio Marchionne’s plans for the Chrysler and Lancia brands. The surprising bit [via Autocar]: “we could see the two converge as early as the end of the year.” For Americans this means that some of the holes in Chrysler’s lineup could be plugged up by rebadged Lancias along the lines of the Delta shown at the Chrysler stand at the Detroit Auto Show. And hey, who are we to say no to all-new Chrysler products? Goodness knows the brand needs something new besides special edition lipstick on the same old pigs. There’s only one hitch…

Rebadged imports are almost always colossal sales flops. Starting with the Saturn Astra and working backwards, it’s almost impossible to find a rebadged import that sold well in the states. And on even cursory inspection, Lancia doesn’t seem to be the brand to break the trend. Hell, Lancias don’t even sell particularly well in Europe.

But there’s a bigger problem too, one that’s played hell with many an import rebadge scheme in the past: price point. If Chrysler is going to start offering models like the Detroit Auto Show Delta in the US by the end of this year, it will be flying into the teeth of same tough economics that made the Astra such a resounding flop.

As this German Lancia price list shows [apologies for the lack of an English version... blame the Brits for voting Lancia off the island back in 1994], the options aren’t great. The only version of the Delta made with an automatic transmission (sadly a must for the US market) is the 1.8 Di T-Jet 16v, which starts at €27,900 or a whopping $39,428 at current exchange rates. Want the Platino top trim level? $42,678 per favore. For a 200hp hatchback. Before shipping it across the Atlantic (US production of Fiat-based Chryslers is a ways off, according to Automotive News [sub].

Granted, the 200hp Volkswagen GTI retails for almost the exact same price in Germany, but sells for $24,000 in the US. Even at that price though, the Delta will face an uphill battle in the US, as it lacks the decades of brand equity the GTI has accumulated in this market. We don’t expect the Chryslerfied Delta to retail at the astronomical prices, but considering that the Delta doesn’t crack the German market’s top 25 best-selling models (which includes such luxe models as the Audi A5 and Merc GLK) we also don’t expect it to sell well in the US even at half what it commands in Europe.

Incidentally, were you aware that Fiat canceled the planned 2009 re-launch of Lancia in the British market ? According to What Car? Fiat’s reason was that “given the current global economic crisis, Fiat Auto has taken the decision to delay the reintroduction of the Lancia brand in right-hand-drive markets beyond 2009.” If Lancia isn’t going to work in the UK, why would it work in America rebadged as the weakest brand in the market? Short answer: it won’t.

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Sergio Marchionne Gives Media, Reality The Slip Mon, 11 Jan 2010 22:00:28 +0000 What's my brand again? (Courtesy:Autoguide)Having been told by the Secretary of Transportation that the Chrysler Group’s motley assortment of new trim level names, rebadged Lancias, decal-sporting special editions represents “the cutting edge of developing the kind of products that I think people in this country, and also in other countries, are really going to feel very favorable toward,” CEO Sergio Marchionne apparently thought enough had been said about his struggling bailout baby. As CBS reports, Marchionne suddenly canceled a 45-minute scheduled press availability before he had the chance to confirm LaHood’s astonishing opinion.

According to CBS

Last Thursday, Chrysler sent an email to members of the broadcast media, including CBS News, who had requested interviews with CEO Sergio Marchionne. The email, written by electronic media communications manager Ed Garsten, notified the recipients that Marchionne would be made available for “a 45 minute special broadcast availability” at 1 p.m. on Monday.

But minutes before the event was scheduled to begin, the plan had apparently changed.

Senior manager of communications Carrie McElwee stepped in front of the microphone and announced to the more than two dozens journalists already on hand that the event had been canceled. “He was on the floor quite a bit before, and then it took longer and his schedule changed,” Garsten later told CBS News.

The WSJ‘s write up of that on-the-floor conversation starts with the headline “CEO Expects Chrysler to Start Hiring,” but bases it on this heavily-qualified quote

It is more than likely, if we are accurate in our forecast of what the market will be, we are going to increase heads. It will be a gradual build, with some of it being done with temporary hires.

That first “if” is the mother of all ifs. Chrysler’s entire financial plan centers on the Group making $42.5b net revenue and breaking even on an operating profit basis next year. In all recent presentations, Chrysler executives have tied financial results to the health of the overall market, seemingly ignoring the elephant in the room, which can best be represented in visual form thusly:

Has Chrysler hit bottom, or are we looking at a dead cat bounce on a long road downward? Auto Motor und Sport dedicate a few short sentences to Marchionne’s take on that question. “The only thing that reassures me is that we hit a floor in 2009,” Marchionne is quoted as saying. But, “putting his ambitious sale goal in doubt,” as AM&S puts it, Marchionne disclaims “unprofitable volume isn’t the volume I’m looking for.”

Too bad nobody had the chance to ask if he thinks (for example) the Islander Edition Wrangler will halt the once-proud Jeep brand’s 30 percent sales slide that took place over the last year. Or how showing a Lancia dressed as a Chrysler gets anyone excited about anything. Or what will happen if arbitration with 789 culled Chrysler dealers goes bad. Or how (for example) offering $1,500-$4,000 cash on all Chrysler-brand models repairs the brand or creates “quality volume?” Or, or, or…

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Fiat Indulges In More Advertising Brand Engineering Tue, 05 Jan 2010 16:07:28 +0000

The very first post-bankruptcy, Chrysler-brand advertisement was a true re-badge, literally replacing Lancias with Chryslers in the exact same advertisement. The second spot, which we ran yesterday, was a vague, year-end spot emphasizing history and heritage while showing only one modern car. Though it’s not a strict re-badge like the Lancia ad, the new Chrysler ad is, at the very least, based on some serious platform-sharing. Specifically the ad above, an Italian-language spot for the Fiat Group, is thematically identical to the Chrysler ad.

It starts with a shot of Fiat 508s, which bear more than a passing resemblance to the Airflow the Chrysler ad opens on (in fact, the Balilla would be restyled in a windtunnel for 1935, making it the second production car after the Airflow to receive the modern aerodynamic treatment). From there, the ads become even more similar, showing scenes of Fiats throughout history, and finally centering on Fiat’s hottest current model, the 500. The only real difference is the absence of the leather bag (symbolizing “the continuation of life with all Chrysler Group brands”) used in the Chrysler spot.

If you think the comparisons are a stretch, check out this piece in the Detroit News. According to the write-up, Chrysler’s marketing boss Olivier Francoise intends to:

duplicate what he did for Fiat, but on a shoestring budget that requires combining resources where possible and trying to come up with something that stands out in a crowded marketplace.

Combining resources. Shoestring budget. Chrysler Nassau. If Fiat’s going to rebadge cars, why not get twice the sales per advertising “architecture” as well? The prosecution rests.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Spot The Chrysler Edition Sun, 20 Dec 2009 18:52:49 +0000 Picture 66

The AFP reports that Chrysler is “currently reconsidering how it uses major auto shows for revealing new vehicles and concepts,” by way of explaining why Chrysler has “nothing new” for the Detroit Auto Show. Spokesman Rick Denau explains “we’d like to do things closer to the on-sale date of the vehicles and most of our new stuff isn’t coming until the second half of the year.” In reality, Chrysler is pushing the limits of the possible with its attempt to re-work the Chrysler and Dodge lineups in record time. Except for the new 300 and Grand Cherokee which made ill-fated debuts in Chrysler’s “viability plan” Chrysler’s refreshed products won’t be ready for public consumption until shortly before they go on sale, and it’s still likely that some of those release dates could be pushed back. In the meantime, Fiat will rebadge a Lancia as a Chrysler for the Detroit show. Because that’s almost as good as showing a new model, and it’s certainly as good as it gets for Chrysler right now.

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Sergio Marchionne Defends Chrysler Profit Plans Mon, 07 Dec 2009 17:34:23 +0000

In a lengthy, wide-ranging interview with Automotive News [sub], Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne got an awkward question from AN’s Luca Ciferri.

Your five-year plan forecasts that Chrysler’s operating margin will peak at 7 to 7.7 percent of revenues in 2014. In November 2006, you predicted that Fiat Group Automobiles’ operating margin would peak at 4.5 to 5.3 percent in 2010. How could Chrysler’s post-global recession peak profitability be 50 percent higher than Fiat Group’s pre-global recession assumptions?

Well, Sergio?

Marchionne answers:

For one very simple reason: The Obama administration has done what Europe has been unwilling to do. In November 2006, when I announced Fiat targets for 2010, those margins would have reflected a competitive state of the European car industry which today continues to be unrectified.

In Europe, structural overcapacity has not been addressed, and nationalistic interests continue to prevail over the overall health of the industry. The Obama administration, like it or not, has forced a restructuring on this industry where the emerging companies, post-bankruptcy, are going to be much better suited to drive returns on capital which are adequate with the risks that are being taken.

So I do think that a decent business on the car side which is run efficiently can produce 7 to 7.7 percent in the United States. Is that number possible in the European marketplace given what exists as an industrial landscape? The answer is no.

Too bad then, that Chrysler’s sales have shown no signs of recovery since bankruptcy. After all, Marchionne’s own projections show volume driving profit, and if the volume doesn’t show up, the profit certainly won’t. This lack of volume momentum definitely caught Ciferri’s attention, as he asks

You recently said Fiat and Chrysler together would reach the 5.5-million-unit-a-year level you consider critical for survival. You say Chrysler will be a 2.8 million animal in 2014. When could the 5.5 million target be reached?

To which Marchionne answers:

Certainly before 2014. I mean, the writing is on the wall, right? Half of it is coming out of Chrysler. More [information] on the Fiat side will come on an investors’ day we are planning for the first quarter of 2010.

The only thing the writing is on is Marchionne’s overly-optimistic sales projection, which shows Chrysler adding four percent market share in the US between now and 2014. If you think that’s going to happen, you might be interested in buying a certain bridge in New York. But if the European market is in as bad of shape as Marchionne seems to think, Chrysler might even see stronger growth than Fiat, let alone its troubled Alfa and Lancia brands. Either way, the Fiatsler experiment is in big trouble.

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Chrysler Replacing Lancia As Global Brand/World Peace Advocate Thu, 03 Dec 2009 18:20:23 +0000

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….?

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