France for recovery
Lancia thus confirmed its return to the French market during the European presentation of the Pu+Ra HPE concept at the Italian Embassy in Paris. France is one of the 6 countries selected by the brand, apart from Italy, to reestablish the manufacturer. The return of Lancia will take place as part of the launch of the new Ypsilon, which must finally replace the current city car which dates back to 2011. For the launch of this new model, Lancia will rely on 20 new distributors in France, alongside 80 after-sales service points
“Lancia is now back in France. This country represents a lot for the brand, due to the attraction its inhabitants have for Italian style and design, and due to the importance of the B segment in this market. Our ambition is to make Lancia a desirable, respected and credible brand, by placing France among the main markets for Lancia in Europe,” declared Luca Napolitano, CEO of the Lancia brand.
The decision to return to France is linked to three major reasons: the potential of the very dynamic B segment in France, the distribution model emphasizing online sales and a cultural reason which would be linked to the appeal of French for Italian design and products.
A modern strategy
The arrival of Lancia in France is part of a “Dare Forward 2030” roadmap from Stellantis. By the first half of 2024, the brand will have 70 new distributors in Europe in 70 major European cities, with the first 40 letters of intent having already been signed. The strategy involves a new distribution model, with 50% of sales made online, hence the horrible term “phygital” used in communication. The new showrooms must offer customers a fully immersive experience, both online and offline, recreating a “home-like” atmosphere through materials, colors and attention to detail inspired by architecture and design Italians.
As part of its ten-year strategic plan, Lancia plans to launch three new models, at the rate of “one every two years”, starting with the New Ypsilon in 2024. From 2026, Lancia will only launch 100 models. % electric and from 2028, it will only sell 100% electric cars.
Are we starting from a blank slate?
Beyond the product plan and the reinvestment – beneficial – after “the abandonment at night on the side of the national highway” recorded by Sergio Marchionne, who considered that the brand “no longer had a future”, everything must be rebuilt because, With the exception of car connoisseurs and lovers, the general public has partly forgotten Lancia, or already seems convinced that the brand has indeed disappeared.
Already, when FCA decided to “kill” Lancia slowly, things were not going well. We were already a long way from the blessed days of the 60s and 80s, the Fulvia, Stratos, Beta and other Deltas which triumphed in racing and sold rather well. Since the mid-90s, Lancia had been surviving with models that were aging, outdated (the Thesis!) or which no longer necessarily respected the DNA (the Delta 3 no longer had anything to do with its predecessors). It was then worse under FCA at the beginning of the 2010s with a range made up largely of Chryslers (itself in decline) rebadged with a trowel, like the Thema II which was a 300M whose logo had just been changed and the Voyager minivan , which hadn’t even bothered to change its name to Italianate it or add a Greek letter. Since 2015, Lancia has survived with Italy as its only market and the small Ypsilon, which nevertheless achieved the feat of selling very well, with more than 43,000 models still sold in 2022.
It is therefore on image and reputation that the project is immense. The younger generations don’t even know what Lancia is, and they don’t even play Sega Rally to find out. Despite its great history, we are almost starting from scratch. It will also have to find its place in the Stellantis galaxy, while its premium vocation may come up against Alfa Romeo and DS, the family’s cousins who also aim for the top of the basket.