As Lancia posts another respectable sales performance, where’s an automotive van Helsing when you need one?
I don’t know about you people but I’ve had just about enough of Lancia. I’m worn out from the serial indignities foisted upon this proud marque, sick to the eyeteeth of Sergio Marchionne’s platitudes and inaction. I just want the pain to end. But for those of us who’d prefer to see Lancia’s drooling remains smothered with its own pillow, the past two years have offered little by way of consolation.
Despite the abject failure of the Marchionne nuclear option and the withdrawal of everything apart from the entry-level Ypsilon, the junior Lancia flatly refuses to climb into its coffin. FCA sold a respectable 62,807 Ypsilon’s in 2014, and last year came close to matching that number with 59,374 finding homes; keeping the sole remaining Lancia within the minicar top-ten, ahead of Opel’s Adam and the Kia Picanto. These are remarkably resilient numbers for a marque in terminal decline and a model now five years into its (most likely) final foray. Especially given its well publicised December EuroNCAP score.
The Ypsilon’s sales performance suggests there remains a market for a small well-specified, stylish city-Lancia; not a huge shock when rivals do good business selling similar models themselves. Despite Fiat’s repeated assaults on the marque over past decades, Lancia still appears to stand for something and with PSA and Renault increasingly offering upmarket variants of their bread and butter models, might FCA be missing out on potentially decent margins by allowing the Ypsilon to wither on the vine? Margins I might add they’re unlikely to make selling 500’s and Panda’s.
Fiat, largely due to their own stubborn intransigence have trapped themselves in a market where it’s impossible to make money. Obviously its too late for Lancia to be revived as a cohesive range of cars. Fiat utterly failed to redefine what it stood for anyway – instead producing a series of poorly targeted, undercooked flops. But could the Ypsilon mark a way forward for the marque? Surely a competently developed and styled replacement, on an up-to-date if slightly larger platform could prove a consistent seller and a credible rival to PSA’s DS3 at a price that would make FCA a few euros.
Of course, this presupposes the money, the will or the vision exists within FCA, which as we all know is categorically not the case. More likely they’ll wring out what half-life remains, leaving it on the market long after it’s outclassed, before closing the lid on Lancia forever, amidst weak promises of a revival once Fiat’s finances improve. Frankly, I wish they’d just put a stake through its heart and put us all out of our misery, but it seems that at FCA, even death takes place at glacial speed.
Sales data sourced from Left-lane.com