Let’s Show Marchionne that Lancia Matters
“The Lancia brand has no history [outside Italy],” declared Mr. Sergio Marchionne, Fiat and Chrysler’s CEO, recently when announcing that he will be eliminating the brand save for the badge-engineered Lancia Ypsilon that will be sold only in Italy.
Marchionne-bashing is all too easy these days, and auto journalists seem to love hearing themselves complain about Sergio, but I don’t share that sentiment. He is a smart businessman. He has done a fantastic job reviving Maserati into a coveted luxury brand once again, with a focus on engineering excellence that has eliminated the reliability stigma it suffered in the ’80s. He also readily acknowledges Fiat’s errors during Mr. Gianni Agnelli’s reign when Fiat squandered away much of Alfa Romeo’s prestige and brand value. To remedy that, he has committed five billion Euro over the next five years to make Alfa Romeo the legendary sports car manufacturer it once was, and the 4C is clearly a great start. While rebuilding Alfa Romeo and re-launching Fiat in the US, he has also had the unenviable job of standing tough against Italian unions, notorious for holding back much of Italian industry.
So why would Marchionne want to kill the historic and valuable Lancia brand? Could it be that he’s misjudging Chryslers’, re-badged as Lancias, poor sales as an indication of lack of interest in the Italian brand? Come on, people are smarter than that. Of course a Voyager minivan or a 200 with a Lancia badge is going to have limited appeal!
Lancia deserves a fair chance at a comeback. Marchionne could leverage the brand’s incredible rally heritage that it built with cars like the Stratos, 037, or the Delta Integrale HF, and give us a WRC-worthy AWD hot-hatch. Or if an upscale sports coupe reminiscent of the iconic Aurelia, Flaminia, or Flavia overlaps too much with Maserati, then why not a mid-market lineup with a focus on elegance and design, harking back to the Lancias of the ‘60s and early ‘70s? If the VW Group can breathe life into Seat and Skoda, brands with major overlap within VW itself and much less heritage or global name recognition than Lancia, then I think FCA should be able to do much better with Lancia.
If you agree, show Marchionne your love for Lancia by commenting below, sharing your Lancia stories, or letting him know what you’d like to see from the marque.