The always exquisite Lancia Ypsilon 3rd of the name has been recently restyled (new grille, new LED light signature, revised infotainment system with 7" touch screen, new Elegant Blue color). This will allow the Italian brand to continue its career in Italy (for a while) and to continue to make the career of the declining Italian brand, which has been reduced to a single model and a single market for several years.
However, the now 10 years old of the Italian chip don't seem to have much of a hold on the brand, which sells more Ypsilons on the Italian market alone than Alfa Romeo does in its entire range throughout Europe. Well, it's true that prices are not the same, but
does not seem destined to die and fights with the energy of despair so that one does not disconnect it...
Now with Luca Napolitano, new CEO of the Lancia brand (and former Fiat and Abarth director for the EMEA region), the brand could regain some of its splendor, under the aegis of new group Stellantis.
First clue brought by Stellantis : the brand Lancia has officially been placed in the group's premium division, alongside Alfa Romeo and DS. We were delighted and this was a first sign of improvement, whereas we could have feared that the brand would not even be mentioned by the group's boss: Carlos Tavares. No way! Of course, we can also say that placing a logo in a Powerpoint is not a big deal and that for the moment the investments are far from being made. Of course! But you don't start building a group like Stellantis by walking around its shareholders and observers of the automotive world. The credibility of the group is at stake, as it has already suffered enough, for its Italian part, from the procrastination and changes in strategic plans of the late Sergio Marchionne!
Second clue brought by Stellantis This is what Luca Napolitano himself said in an interview with the press in the last few hours. Here are the main points to remember.
- A return to the premium?
First, Luca Napolitano states that "Lancia finally has a leader in the group and is one of Stellantis' flagship brands, which is a very strong sign of intent, combined with the fact that the brand is not focused on today's Ypsilon, in which case it would have been included in the "generalist" segment with Citroen and Fiat.".
- Is the typical customer profile expected to change?
On the other hand, Lancia's new CEO says he is in love with the brand's potential new prospects. "I'm passionate about cars and I now work at Lancia. So I have a lot of ideas, which I can't reveal yet. What I can say is that the customer of tomorrow will not be the simple evolution of the customer of today.". He adds, to clarify his thought: " In simple terms, today 75% of our customers are women and they buy cars under 4 meters. If we consider that 10% of them change cars every year and half of them are loyal to the Lancia brand, we can see that this is a legacy that is not lost. But we understand that the brand customer we envision - in the premium market - will be partly different.". He adds that this audience is a profile to study and understand: "We need to understand their expectations and see how they can be met. And that will affect the position of future products.".
A return to France?
From a geographical point of view, we know that Lancia is confined to the Italian market. But could new opportunities for territorial expansion arise? This is the opinion of Luca Napolitano, who states that "It is not true that nobody knows Lancia abroad. There are markets where it has done very well, for example France, Belgium, Greece and where it is recognized. The French in particular have a very positive image of the brand. This would make us happy if the brand did indeed cross the Alps again for our greatest pleasure!
What philosophy for the future?
Investing in the Ypsilon seems like a no-brainer, because without it, the brand would simply not exist. It is the customer base to maintain. But if Napolitano can hope for a successor to the city car, he places particular emphasis on the opportunities for synergies within Stellantis' premium division. He states that
"If we position ourselves next to Alfa Romeo and DS, we will do something with them. And if you look at their respective positions, I think Lancia can easily find its own. Now, to simplify, if Alfa Romeo is synonymous with performance and sportiness, while DS is the Louis Vuitton of the car, we certainly have for us elegance, timeless Italian style and technological innovation that are the most relevant values of the brand".
Napolitano does not go by 4 paths. He praises the CMP platform of the PSA group. "Today, the 208, Corsa, DS3, Mokka and 2008 are born. These are 5 cars that, for different reasons, are very popular on the market. Do I see opportunities for Lancia? Of course you do. Then we will see how we can interpret this problem. Build a more traditional sedan or a crossover? As well as the time horizon. It's better to do things right than to do something quickly.". Finally, when asked about the possibility of using the 100% electric platform of the Fiat 500E, Lancia's CEO replied bluntly. "Electric is a path we all follow. But more than the new 500, I would be interested in the CMP architecture in its version for the electric vehicle.". Why did he do it? He doesn't say anything about it...