The Chrysler-Lancia liaison may be netting Chrysler a version of the Italian brand's Delta hatcback, but that relationship is more than a one-way street. In fact, new reports suggest a new Lancia model, based heavy off Chrysler's forthcoming 2011 300 sedan, will debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show in March.
Fiat's luxury brand has been struggling to maintain momentum in the past several years; sales in 2009, for instance, fell to 112,000 vehicles in total. Still, the brand has hopes of tripling its sales within three years, thanks to a number of new products -- many of which may be shared with the Chrysler brand.
Chrysler management hinted months ago that the 300 could be sold as a Lancia, but Automotive News now suggests the final product, which may bear the revived Thema nameplate, could launch in Geneva by March. Apart from a new grille and revised bumpers, the 300 isn't expected to change much for its European tour of duty, although Thema buyers will have a few different engines to choose from. A 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 may be offered with Chrysler's new 3.6-liter Pentastar gas V-6, but the majority of Themas will likely be built with the diesel offering.
Unlike previous Euro-spec 300s, which were built under contract by Magna Steyr in Austria, the Thema will likely be built alongside its LX platform siblings in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Thema production will only account for 10,000-15,000 units annually, but Lancia hopes the car will boost its image.
Look for the Thema to debut alongside Chrysler's rebadged Lancia Delta at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show in March, and ultimately roll into European showrooms later next year.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)