Sergio Marchionne, the omnipotent chief of the Fiat Auto and Chrysler groups, will soon announce the detailed long-term product strategy for all seven brands now under his aegis. While Alfa Romeo is expected to be subject to several cutbacks, Lancia will be twinned with Chrysler in an effort to revive the ailing up-market Italian nameplate and Marchionne's product-starved American flagship.
GM's Opel/Vauxhall partnership is said to be the role model for the collaboration between Chrysler and Lancia. This would mean that the two brands won't compete in the same markets, which should also apply to the pending Fiat-Dodge alliance. That would mean that eventually, the Dodge and Chrysler brands will no longer be sold in Europe.
The success of Marchionne's game plan in Europe depends a lot on whether Lancia's loyal and conservative customers will continue to buy Lancias even if they are blatantly rebadged Chryslers.
Longer term, both Chrysler and Lancia would seek to leverage cost savings from pooled R&D with greater design differentiation and additional unique bodystyles. Together, the two brands are gearing up to push the output of the group's A/B and C/D platforms to over one million units each.
The future product program mapped out in Turin and Detroit is believed to look like this:
An all-new Lancia Ypisilon (B-segment) appears. The car may be badged Appia (Lancia is thinking about reusing a host of storied names from its back catalogue) and will be a four door hatch instead of the current two door, based on the Fiat Panda platform. The Appia will be sold only in Europe, and no immediate Chrysler counterpart is planned at this point. The Lancia Delta (the hatch shown with a Chrysler grille at the Detroit auto show) will be facelifted. Changes will be limited to mild cosmetic tweaks, and a rearranged engine line-up. The Chrysler 300C will provide the mechanicals for the replacement for Lancia's Thesis. This large four door sedan, reportedly to take the name Aurelia, will be made in the USA and exported to Europe. Lancia sources say there is potential for wagon and AWD Aurelia derivatives. The Aurelia will be equipped with a revised Chrysler V-6 featuring direct-injection Multiair cylinder heads for improved performance and economy.