The Current, Sad State of Lancia

It’s always fun to look at what manufacturers are offering in foreign lands.  Their websites, no matter the language, are all fairly easy to navigate and figure out.  So what does the fabled marque Lancia have in its stable?

  • Ypsilon: Shares platform with Fiat 500 and Fiat Panda.
  • Delta: Distantly related to the Fiat Bravo.
  • Thema: A rebadged Chrysler 300.
  • Voyager: A rebadged Chrysler Town & Country.
  • Flavia: A rebadged Chrysler 200 convertible.
  • Musa: A fancy mini MPV based on the Fiat Idea.

Gah!  Where to begin?!

For generations, Lancia has built not only beautiful cars, but innovative cars.  The long list of firsts includes the first production 5-speed (1948) and V6 (1950). 

Lancia’s originality took a huge hit in 1969, when Fiat took Lancia over.  However, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Lancia continued to produce legendary cars (Stratos, Delta Integrale).  And a few duds.

But at some point in the recent past, Lancia went completely off the deep end.  Being on the wrong side of the Atlantic, I don’t know enough about the marque’s compact offerings.  But the Thema/300, Voyager/Town & Country, and Flavia/200(!) are appalling and an affront to purists everywhere.  In the name of maximizing profit, Fiat has leveraged its purchase of Chrysler and slapped badges and leather onto three americanos.  I’m not criticizing these cars, per se; I’m just noting that they should not be sold as Lancias.

That was the point.  Here is the counter-point.
We should give Fiat/Lancia some slack.  Lancia has around a 0.7% market share in Europe and barely 5% in Italy.  Lancia doesn’t have the resources (and it does not make sense for Fiat to waste its resources) to design a full-sized sedan, a minivan, and a mid-sized convertible.  The re-badged Chryslers offer an easy, quick, and cheap way of expanding the line-up.
In fact, we should thank Fiat/Lancia for badge engineering because Lancia still lives!  Just think of the hundreds of pre-war (and post-war) carmakers that didn’t make it. 
So, yay 2012 Lancia Flavia?

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