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Author Topic: Lancia, back to the USA?  (Read 2202 times)
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toby2449
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« on: 02 February, 2009, 12:20:00 PM »

LUCA CIFERRI

Lancia may return to US after 30 year gap
Three-decade hiatus could allow brand to come back with untarnished reputation

Luca Ciferri
Automotive News Europe
February 2, 2009 06:01 CET
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COMMENTARY
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 Luca Ciferri is chief correspondent of Automotive News Europe.
 


The Fiat and Chrysler product and marketing teams have a lot to discuss. Close to the top of the agenda in their deliberations is the issue of which badge would best fit the new range of Fiat-based mini, small and lower medium cars that Chrysler could begin selling in North America from 2011.

One possibility worth consideration could be the reintroduction of the Lancia brand that withdrew from the United States 30 years ago. Its last car, the Beta Montecarlo/Scorpion, sold less than 2,000 units in that market.

Many Scorpions still survive today, owned by proud collectors. Most of them are not the same people who originally bought a great Pininfarina design that was let down by poor build-quality, modest performance and insufficient braking capabilities.

To most of todayís generation of car buyers in America, Lancia would be perceived as a completely new brand, just like the youth-oriented Scion brand launched successfully there by Toyota.

The difference is that Lancia offers 103 years of heritage and a history that Scion does not have.

Italian flair

Lancia could also add some Italian flair to Chrysler-built small cars, which will not only face competition from US versions of the Fords and Opel/Vauxhalls we know here in Europe, but also from stylish minicars including the Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris, which already have won over a considerable chunk of US buyers.

Last but not least, if some -- or all -- of these Chrysler-built small cars were to go to Latin America, their distinctive Lancia-specific front and rear end styling would offer a further advantage.

These North American-built Lancias would clearly differentiate themselves from sibling Fiat models which are already manufactured in Brazil and Argentina. This would, in essence, allow Fiat-Chrysler to introduce a new line of cars to Latin America at no additional cost.

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fensaddler
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« Reply #1 on: 02 February, 2009, 11:15:00 PM »

The worst car I ever drove was a Chrysler.  On balance this appears to have all the appeal of lipstick on a pig.  The purists have enough trouble with rebadged Fiats... and at least they are Italian and half decent to start with.
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Chris Owen
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« Reply #2 on: 06 February, 2009, 12:06:17 PM »

I think you mean, 'the worst car I have driven - so far' as there will be plenty of opportunity in the near future to add to the list, as more  manufacturers attempt to climb on the 'green' bandwagon by producing underpowered cars on skinny tyres. Long live Lotus and come on Fiat. Worst car I can remember off hand was the Austin 3litre. For laughs and as a party trick I would apply first the handbrake and then full throttle, the elongated Austin 1800 would rock back and forth like a ride thro the Southern Ocean. Most embarrassing car launch I have ever been to was for the Maybach.   
« Last Edit: 06 February, 2009, 12:10:07 PM by peterbaker » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: 06 February, 2009, 09:44:55 PM »

"there will be plenty of opportunity in the near future to add to the list, as more  manufacturers attempt to climb on the 'green' bandwagon by producing underpowered cars on skinny tyres"

 Roll Eyes You mean like an Appia or a Mini?  Having fun with cars requires neither copious power nor prodigious grip.  Its part of the reason why small cars, and modest sports cars like the MX-5 (which was deliberately engineered so that it didn't have too much grip) are so much fun.

Moreover, if anything, the concentration on fuel efficiency has sparked innovation and produced better cars - reductions in weight, better small cars (Mito anyone?), higher-efficiency small engines with double turbos or turbos combined with superchargers - if anything cars have got even more interesting because small and light and nippy are all in again.  Which brings me back to the original 850 Mini - 34 bhp, skinny tyres, and an absolute hoot to drive.  I know, because I learnt to drive in one! 

In contrast the Chrysler Neon drank like a fish, had a horrible slushbox, vague steering, a noisy engine which delivered power about 5 seconds after hitting the throttle, and the most godawful interior I have ever clapped eyes on.  I have driven some pretty awful (dis)courtesy cars in my time (Mk1 Seat Ibiza, Mitsubishi (absolutely no) Carisma) but the Neon was truly the most awful and frightening machine I have ever had the misfortune to take the wheel of.

Oh, and sack Clarkson. Wink
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Chris Owen
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« Reply #4 on: 07 February, 2009, 12:51:07 AM »

[quote Oh, and sack Clarkson. Wink[/quote]

For every other offensive remark he's ever made, particularily about Lancia, but not for the Gordon Brown, for that one he deserves a medal Grin

Fun per CC has got to be Citroen 2CV and derivates, Fiat 500's (499cc) and Suzuki Cappuccino (697cc 3 cyl 12v turbo)
"CV is a gem in the snow as is the 500 with all the weight over the drive wheels.

Brian
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* Fiat 500 & Canoe Tyringham copy.jpg (157.63 KB, 474x365 - viewed 239 times.)

* 2003_1219_115745AA.JPG (337.22 KB, 1280x960 - viewed 257 times.)

* 2004_0331_132034AA.JPG (389.24 KB, 1600x1200 - viewed 296 times.)
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« Reply #5 on: 07 February, 2009, 10:18:54 AM »

[Lancia back in the US? not bloody likely ]


I've Received the following from Ed Levin in the USA, Ed follows the postings on the Forum, so I think it's pertinent to have the views of an American Lancia Enthusiast.

Brian
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Hi Brian,

 

I see that the LMC forum is discussing that Luca Ciferri article. Letís just say that those of us over here arenít holding our collective breath. Donít get me wrong; I think you probably know that nothing would please me more than Lancia returning to the US, but Ciferri seems to be describing some parallel universe.

Heís right that, for the most part, Lancia would indeed be perceived as a new brand, but it's not at all clear that 27 years' hiatus would wash the slate clean. He poses a comparison to Scion, but Scion worked as a new brand because Toyota's image of value for money dovetailed nicely with Scion's youth market orientation. Scion could start fresh because it was being marketed to twenty-somethings--mostly first-time new car buyers.

 

But Lancia would be selling at a much higher price point, to a significantly older market segment, and forty-somethings still retain a less-than-positive mental image of Fiats. This means that Lancia would have to hide its association with Fiat in order to establish an image of quality. Over here Fiat is still regarded as the punchline of a joke--when it's regarded at all. Fiat hasn't sold over here for 20 years, but it still hasn't shed its reputation as being mechanically troublesome.

But the bigger problem is even more basic: brand identity. The last car sold here  was in 1982, and it was the Beta Coupe/Spider--not, as Ciferri suggests, the Scorpion (Montecarlo), which only sold here in 1976 & 1977. But even the Beta Coupe/Spider was a car that you could build a sporting identity around. Same, obviously, for the Delta/Integrale. The 8.32 or the Thesis could support a luxury/performance identity a la M-B or BMW.

But how in hell do you position the Musa and Nuova Delta in the context of the US market? (or any market, for that matter) How do those cars build on that 103-year heritage? Neither is a bad car--just one without an exciting (or even identifiable) image, an essential quality for (re)establishing a brand. That's not a model line-up that you can sell with ads based around old rally footage or LC2s running at LeMans. I don't think that Richard Gere driving a Nuova Delta from Hollywood to Tibet is going to impress the locals. And let's not even start with the Nobel laureates ad; sadly, most Americans think Aung San Suu Kyi is some sort of Chinese take-away.

So it's not utterly impossible to for Lancia relaunch in the USóparticularly if they piggyback on Chrysler's dealer network. But it seems far more probable that Fiat is looking at Chrysler and its Windsor, Ontario, Canada assembly plant as a way of launching the new Fiat 500. That car has a fighting chance of volume sales hereósomething that canít be said of Lancia's current model line-up. Would that it were otherwise.

 

All best,

Ed

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« Reply #6 on: 07 February, 2009, 10:41:31 AM »

Its true the Appia is great fun going downhill but personally it comes nowhere near the satisfaction gained from attempting to keep an AC Cobra in something of a straight line. Politically correct? Not yet thank you.
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