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Lancia Returns With 10-Year Restoration Plan

Stellantis has been discussing the prospect of reviving the Lancia brand for months, hinting that the returning Delta would even be part of the deal. While technically still active, the historic Italian company has devolved into a swath of rebadged Chrysler products and now produces the Ypsilon (based on the Fiat 500) as its singular offering in Europe.

However, some die-hard fans of the nameplate took umbrage with the matter after it was revealed that the Delta would be an all-electric vehicle in October of 2021. As time went on, the manufacturer vowed that the model would be a worthy successor to performance models like the HF Integrale. But continued insisting upon electrification being an essential component of Lancia’s revival and has formally introduced its overarching plan for the marque

According to Stellantis, a 10-year strategic plan has been put into place to deliver a new Lancia every couple of years. However, since the first vehicle isn’t slated to arrive until 2024, that means just three vehicles — which the manufacturer said should still give it sufficient coverage of the European market.

Apparently, there may yet be room for combustion-based power. The plan outlines “100 [percent] electric vehicles” after 2026, indicating that the initial models may come with an optional hybridized powertrain. Though the variant would have a fairly short lifespan, as Lancia’s present strategy demands the brand stop selling anything but pure electric vehicles by 2028. Furthermore, the company said it wouldn’t even bother offering non-EVs after 2026 to roll with regional emission laws. More realistically, the company is probably just going to keep around the current, combustion-reliant Ypsilon as it begins offering BEVs.

From Stellantis:

Lancia’s ten-year plan will begin in 2024 with the new Lancia Ypsilon, which will be around 4-meters long, belonging to the B segment and will be launched with a 100 [percent] electrified powertrain. In 2026, the new flagship will arrive, 4.6-meter long and will allow the brand to enter into the largest segment in Europe. 2028 will be the year of the new 4.4-meters long
Delta”, a sculpted and muscular car, with geometric lines, which will attract car enthusiasts throughout Europe.

These three new models will cover 50 [percent] of the market and will have the duty to contribute to the improvement of Stellantis performance in its premium and luxury cluster, as laid out in the “Dare Forward 2030” Stellantis strategic plan.

A ten-year plan with a clear electrification strategy, from 2026 the brand will only launch 100 [percent] electric models and from 2028 will solely sell 100 [percent] electric models. Great attention to the electrification process, but not only. In addition, a wide use of innovative materials will make Lancia the Stellantis brand with the highest percentage of recycled material, with 50 [percent] of touchable surfaces made from eco-sustainable materials in order to contribute to building a better world for future generations.

The company stated that the vehicles’ interiors would offer “a typical Italian elegance style” that’s inspired by the “exclusive materials of its past iconic vehicles.” It cited the Gamma, Thema, and Flavia, adding that next-gen Lancia products would offer a comfortable environment with simple, easy-to-use technology. That means minimalist interiors where you’re wholly dependent upon the central touchscreen or whatever electronic helpers for rudimentary tasks.

As an American, my nostalgia for Lancia is largely secondhand and steeped in a golden era that ended right around the time I was born. Reading through the relevant forums has shown me that this isn’t what some fans were expecting. A few even seem to be truly offended that Stellantis would sully the Lancia name by building minimalist EVs. But from my vantage, basic transportation is about all the brand seems to have stood for in the modern era. All of its best racers have been mothballed for decades and the rest of its cars passed into obscurity with all of the grace of General Motors’ L platform.

That said, it’s hard to see this strategy working in the long term unless EV ownership becomes normalized across Europe in a handful of years. Stellantis is also talking about selling these vehicles as premium luxury products with minimalist interiors featuring plenty of recycled materials. While we shouldn’t be presumptuous, that could translate into spartan and decidedly un-luxurious cabins loaded up with low-quality upholstery. I suppose it’ll all come down to how much these vehicles cost and what they’re like from behind the wheel.

Regardless, we probably won’t be seeing them in North America. Stellantis has admitted that the Lancia brand is laser-focused on the European market for the time being and it’s difficult to imagine the 2024 Ypsilon being a big hit here anyway. The company also wants to emphasize online sales whenever possible, which would pose some legal issues in the United States. Lancia hopes to re-launch with a network of dealerships occupying sixty major cities in Europe in a couple of years, with online sales representing 50 percent of its annual volume.

“Today is an important day,” stated Luca Napolitano, CEO of Lancia brand, “Lancia is now ready for Europe, taking a first step to become a credible and respected brand in the premium segment. Our ten-year plan, approved last September, is now taking shape, step by step. We are the Italian Elegance brand and this is our Renaissance. Innovation and timeless Design have always been our core values and to these we want to add sustainability, customer centricity and responsibility, because we look to the future with great ambition.”

Leadership certainly seems excited. But, as Napolitano said, this is only the first step toward restoring Lancia’s mojo.

[Image: Stellantis]

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