Fiat May Replace Lancia Models with Chryslers in Europe

Fiat plans to make Chrysler a more global brand, and may begin as early as 2011 by rebadging various Lancia models as Chryslers in Europe.

“There is no doubt that, outside a limited number of markets in Europe, Chrysler is going to be the global brand,” Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat and Chrysler, told Automotive News Europe last month.

Even though Lancia models may start to disappear, Marchionne did not say that the 103-year-old Italian brand will disappear. He instead said Fiat will find a way to preserve the brand while communizing as much of the portfolio with Chrysler as possible.

One scenario is for the Lancia brand to be sold in a limited number of European markets such as Belgium, France, and its home country of Italy. Lancia sold a total of 103,000 vehicles last year, with 93,000 of those sales in Italy. Chrysler sold 29,000 cars in Europe last year.

A second possibility is for Lancia to become an upscale subbrand of Chrysler, similar to what Fiat does with Abarth. Both Jaguar and Ford of Europe have done this with Daimler and Ghia respectively. However, some insiders are afraid that turning Lancia into a subbrand would hurt sales in Italy, where customers would reject Lancia-badged Chryslers.

Marchionne said Fiat will have a better idea of how much Chrysler and Lancia can work together after the rollout of Chrysler’s new and revised 2010 models. Whatever Fiat’s decision about Lancia, it is expected to come by the end of 2010.

Source: Automotive News

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