Always first with the news that matters, this just in…
In a surprise move today, FCA’s Sergio Marchionne announced during an earnings call that the beleaguered Lancia brand could be set to make a comeback. During his conference call with analysts he left strong hints that a new Lancia model, (tipped to be a compact crossover), is being planned – a vehicle type increasingly popular across European markets.
Insiders familiar with the matter suggest the new Lancia model line (said to be a supermini) will mark the return of the Infamia nameplate – one which carries strong historical resonance with Lancia owners. The FCA chief refused to be drawn on details for the model (believed to be a luxury saloon), telling those present, “I’m not saying what we’re going to do. That would only spoil the surprise.”
Hitherto considered to have been on deathwatch, Lancia is currently a one-model brand, the ageing but surprisingly resilient Italy-only sub-compact Ypsilon slowly fading in the market. ISH Automotive analyst, Lars Boom told Driven to Write he predicts Ypsilon sales to drop slightly below 60,000 units for 2017, adding that the model line is “just about viable, but for how much longer?” However, the advent of the Infamia (rumoured to be a sports model) could offer the once storied Italian brand a lifeline.
An FCA source with knowledge of the matter, told Driven to Write the Infamia (potentially a minivan) could be built on a modified variant of the Bravo platform and be made available with a similar range of small capacity petrol and diesel powerplants. “Building [a Lancia model] from such humble underpinnings is not as implausible as you might think”, the FCA official, speaking on condition of anonymity told us before stressing, “nothing is off-limits for us”.
An FCA spokesperson said the carmaker will disclose more detailed information early next year at an investor day to outline FCA’s latest five-year plan through to 2022.
Nobody was available to speak to us on this matter at the time of going to press. However, a well-placed source who insisted on disguising his voice with helium pointed out, “Sergio will keep everyone guessing; that way he can spin things out for a good 18-24 months at least. Who knows what will have happened by then?”