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Lancia to Live On

Reports of Italian brand’s death somewhat exaggerated.

by on Nov.08, 2012

The Chrysler 300 is being sold as the flagship Lancia Thema in Europe.

Euro-American automaker Fiat/Chrysler will sharply pare back but not kill off its long-troubled Lancia brand, company officials clarified, countering recent reports that the marque would soon vanish due to Fiat’s financial problems.

But, in many ways, the “new” Lancia will be a mostly American brand despite its Italian name and heritage.

“Lancia’s lifeline will be Chrysler,” explains analyst Jim Hall, of 2953 Analytics.

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TheDetroitBureau.com was one of many media outlets to interpret comments made by Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne to imply Lancia would be eliminated. The brand has suffered years of declining sales despite the addition of new models and the financial strain was worsening just as Fiat has had to deal with the decline of European automotive sales. The collapse has been especially severe in its home Italian market.

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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.”

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U.S. Government Bails Out on Chrysler, Ending Post-Bailout Ties

Fiat completes buy-out of government shares as it prepares for global realignment.

by on Jul.21, 2011

CEO Sergio Marchionne announcing the pay-off of the federal bailout in May.

The federal government has severed its remaining ties to the once-bankrupt Chrysler Corp., Italian automaker Fiat buying up the Treasury’s remaining shares in the Detroit maker.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, is expected to follow that news by announcing a global realignment next week, which will mark the next critical step in merging the two makers into a trans-Atlantic giant.  Fiat has steadily increased its stake in the U.S. maker after receiving a 20% share following Chrysler’s emergence from Chapter 11 protection in June 2009.

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Fiat paid $560 million for the government’s 98,461 shares, boosting its holdings by 6%.  Meanwhile, it paid another $125 million to purchase the 1.5% stake held by the Canadian government, which also offered Chrysler a helping hand during its emergence from bankruptcy.  In all, the Italian automaker now owns a 53.5% stake in Chrysler.

The U.S. maker received a total of $12.5 billion in assistance, starting in late 2008.  Since then, the maker has repaid $11.2 billion, fully covering the bailout provided by the Obama Administration.  But Marchionne has said he does not plan to cover the additional funds that were initially provided under the term of former President George W. Bush.

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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.

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Chrysler & Fiat Planning Major Roll-Out in Geneva

Makers set to underscore breadth of trans-Atlantic partnership.

by on Jan.31, 2011

With a Lancia badge on the grille, the new Chrysler 300 will take another bow at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.

While there are dozens of new product roll-outs scheduled for the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, Chrysler and its Italian ally Fiat hope to steal much of the thunder with an assortment of new offerings set to underscore the breadth of their fast-growing, trans-Atlantic partnership.

Perhaps the most significant of the pair’s previews will be the debut of the Lancia Thema, an all-new flagship for the Fiat subsidiary, and a replacement for a top-line model that has been missing from the Lancia line-up for some time, said Olivier Francois, brand manager for both the Lancia and Chrysler brands, during an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com.

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While the executive hinted there will be other offerings coming, he acknowledged that the Geneva event also will see the debut of a new version of the Chrysler Voyager, the European version of the American Town & Country minivan, as well as the new Chrysler 200 and the Lancia Ypsilon, the first model for that brand based on the popular Fiat 500 microcar.

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