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Marchionne Planning to Drop Lancia Brand

Slow sales, no likely turnaround lead to death of Fiat sibling.

by on Nov.02, 2012

Chrysler tried -- and failed -- to boost demand for its Lancia brand with rebadged, U.S.-made Chrysler products. The 300 sedan, shown here, has been sold as the Lancia Thema.

After years of struggling to revive the ailing brand, Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne appears ready to pull the Lancia brand off life support.

“The brand will be reduced or eliminated,” the executive revealed during a conference call discussing plans to improve the sagging fortunes of the entire Fiat Automotive Goup..

Even though the net profit of the Fiat Group in the third quarter came in at € 286, the maker’s debt increased to 6.7 billion. Lancia has been a significant part of Fiat’s woes in recent years, and Marchionne made clear that the focus has to be put on the group’s strongest brands, including Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Maserati.

Eliminating Lancia would not mean closing a plant in Italy, nevertheless the company’s shares saw a sharp decline on the stock market.

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Marchionne expects the Fiat Group to not be able to reach break-even in Europe before 2016, because of the deep crisis in the Continental automobile market. He said the company has to regroup and to the surprise of many: “We have to be honest. Lancia will never be what is once was. The only model that is of any value in Europe is the Ypsilon, which will be saved. The rest of the range has no appeal.”


Chrysler Reveals Management Realignment

“Time to step on the accelerator.”

by on Jul.29, 2011

The only exec staying in his current spot will be Sergio Marchionne, who'll remain CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler.

Delivering on a promise to streamline his trans-Atlantic alliance, CEO Sergio Marchionne announced a broad realignment of the management structure that will increasingly result in Chrysler and its ally Fiat operating as one global company.

Significantly, the move will plant the nexus of power for the two automakers in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, Michigan, though Fiat’s headquarters will remain based in Turin, Italy.  That vote of confidence comes as a sharp rebuke to what happened during the unsuccessful and eventually abandoned merger of Chrysler and Daimler AG, where power clearly shifted to Germany.

One concern for industry analysts is whether Marchionne has moved far enough, particular when it comes to the dozens of senior executives who will continue to report directly to the Canadian-educated CEO.

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“These appointments are the result of an extensive process of evaluation of the technical and leadership skills of the individuals who have been appointed to the GEC,” or Global Executive Committee, said Marchionne. “But equally important is the fact that they reflect the multicultural geographically diverse nature of our businesses.”


Chrysler Badge Vanishes from Europe

U.S. models will now be rebadged as Lancias.

by on Jun.01, 2011

No, it's not a Chrysler 300, but the newly reborn Lancia Thema. The Italian brand will now handle all Chrysler-brand products sold in Europe.

European buyers will no longer be able to get their hands on a car with Chrysler’s winged badge unless they have a source on the grey market.

Starting today, all products that were formally marketed under the Chrysler name will now be rebadged Lancia.

That’s the latest step in an evolving global strategy bringing Chrysler and its Italian partner Fiat ever closer together.  With the European maker planning to control more than 51% of the once-bankrupt American automaker before year-end, Chrysler and Fiat are rapidly consolidating product development, distribution and finances.

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The decision to abandon the Chrysler brand name in Europe wasn’t entirely a surprise.  Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, revealed plans to pair the brand with the long-struggling Lancia during a November 2009 media and analyst briefing.  At the Geneva Motor Show, earlier this year, a number of Chrysler models, including the Town and Country minivan, as well as the small 200 and larger 300 sedans, were unveiled wearing the Lancia badge.

“We couldn’t maintain the two brands everywhere so we had to decide,” Olivier Francois, the executive overseeing the two brands, told Bloomberg news service. “Lancia has a higher awareness in Europe, while for the U.S. and the rest of the world, Chrysler is a more global brand.”


Lanchlers and Chryliats Debut in Geneva

Are Fiat and Chrysler blurring the lines a bit too much?

by on Mar.02, 2011

No, it's not a Chrysler 300, but the newly reborn Lancia Thema - based on the Chrysler 300.

If American visitors to the Geneva Motor Show get a sense of déjà vu at the Fiat and Lancia stands, that’s no surprise.  While they might wear a European badge, a variety of new models are indeed familiar to U.S. motorists – and raise fundamental questions about the alliance between Fiat and its trans-Atlantic partner, Chrysler.

The most notable debut from Lancia at this year’s Geneva show is the Thema, a reborn version of the brand’s flagship, which was discontinued in 1994. While the badge on the grille might be Italian, the rest of the car is a virtually unchanged Chrysler 300, the new version of which has just launched in the U.S. market.

Think of it as, “The first global flagship that combines the best of two worlds,” Lancia officials declared during their press conference.

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The Lancia stand also features the Voyager, also lifted, near whole, from the Chrysler line-up.  And the maker is showing a new concept car, the Flavia, which is based on the U.S. 200 sedan.  A production version is likely to debut in the coming months.

Over at the Fiat booth, the maker revealed the big Freemont crossover, also pulled from the Chrysler stable.  The European version was “developed to meet European needs and expectations,” officials declared to the assembled press core.


New Fiat Dealers To Get First Dibs On Alfa-Romeo

“Ours to lose,” says a dealer.

by on Oct.21, 2010

Alfa hopes to make an American comeback with models like the Giulietta, seen here making its debut at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

Even before the first of its new Fiat dealerships opens up, Chrysler Group is already laying plans for the return of the Alfa-Romeo brand, has learned.

Earlier this week, Chrysler began notifying the first new dealers who will be the vanguard for Fiat in 119 U.S. market.  (Click Here for the full story.) And eventually, the goal is to have Fiat outlets in as many as 200 American markets, according to Peter Grady, Chrysler Group’s Vice President of Network Development and Fleet Operations.

But that is only the start of a potential expansive re-launch by Chrysler’s Italian partner.  The next step, it now appears, will be to bring back the more up-market Alfa marque which, like Fiat, abandoned the American market nearly two decades ago.

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(Since then, Fiat has made a few weak attempts to return, most recently with the limited sales, two years ago, of its low-volume 8C supercar.)

Alfa-Romeo models are sportier and more expensive than those of mainstream Fiat – which will kick off its own U.S. re-launch with the American debut of the 500 microcar.  Fiat plans to spend more than $2.7 billion over the next few years updating the Alfa line-up, according to Sergio Marchionne, who serves as CEO for both Chrysler and Fiat.