Automobile

Lancia steps off the chopping block, promises three new cars

Stellantis has canceled Lancia’s death sentence and granted it a new lease on life. The storied Italian brand announced its own salvation and pledged to launch three new cars (its first since 2011) starting in 2024, including one that will resurrect a well-known nameplate.

“Today is an important day. Lancia is ready for Europe, and we have taken the first step towards becoming a credible and respected brand in the premium segment,” affirmed company CEO Luca Napolitano. He also presented a 10-year plan that he calls the brand’s renaissance.

As of writing, the only car in the Lancia portfolio is the Ypsilon (pictured). The model offensive will begin in 2024, when the little four-door hatchback (which remains stunningly popular in Italy in spite of its age) will finally get a replacement. Details about the next-generation model remain few and far between, but it will stretch about 157 inches long and it will be offered exclusively with an electric powertrain.

The next Ypsilon will be joined by what Lancia calls a flagship in 2026. The model will measure 181 inches long, meaning it will be a couple of inches shorter than the current-generation BMW X3. It’s too early to tell whether it will take the form of a sedan or an SUV. Lancia has never sold an SUV, and it has historically built big luxury sedans, but even European buyers prefer high-riding models in this segment.

Finally, the third part of Lancia’s renaissance is a long-rumored new Delta. It will stretch around 173 inches from bumper to bumper (so it will be about four inches longer than a Volkswagen Golf) and it will be characterized by what the firm describes as “a sculpted, muscular design with geometric lines that will appeal to enthusiasts.” It sounds like Lancia designers will try to echo the original Delta, which was released in 1979 as a family-friendly hatchback and later morphed into one of the most successful World Rally Championship cars of all time.

Some of Lancia’s future models will be electrified, and the brand will go electric-only by 2028. And, we’re told that every future member of the range will feature an interior with a typically Italian design, though photos of the upcoming Lancia models haven’t been released yet.

While it sounds like Lancia is saved, at least for the time being, several points remain in the air. Executives hope to reboot the brand by focusing on France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Holland, but how they will ensure it doesn’t create internal competition for Alfa Romeo and DS (which are also Stellantis-owned and pegged in the premium segment) remains to be seen. And, there’s no mention of the United States yet. Lancia hasn’t sold a car on our shores since 1982 so it doesn’t have much of an image outside of enthusiast circles. 

Lancia’s future looked grim for most of the 2010s, and the 115-year-old company (which Fiat purchased in 1969) was consigned to the scrap heap by former Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) boss Sergio Marchionne. “We have curtained our ambitions for Lancia. I’m going to be saying things that will hurt old Lancia people. The market has moved on and not every opportunity can be realized. We can’t cede to every demand. There will be some reshaping of activities and we need to make money,” he warned in 2014. Once an international player in the luxury car segment, Lancia has been reduced to selling one car (the aforementioned Ypsilon) on the Italian market for the past few years.

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