The Italian brand Lancia has been out of stock in the Netherlands for over six years. On the Italian home market, the brand only sells the Ypsilon city car. Yet the stories about a revival of the brand are getting louder and louder. CEO Luca Napolitano confirmed to last Friday AutoWeek that indeed new Lancias are arriving. In the Netherlands too.
Fresh blood at Lancia is no superfluous luxury, because the Ypsilon it sells in Italy has been around since 2011. However, this small model is still a sales success thanks to regular updates. So much so that Lancia still sells more in its home market than sister brand Alfa Romeo throughout Europe.
The fact that Lancia is now gaining wings is due to the merger between the car groups PSA and FCA Automobiles. These companies together form the company Stellantis since 2021. This also includes brands such as Opel and Peugeot, so Lancia is no longer dependent on Fiat technology alone, as it was a few years ago.
Lancia will soon have its own showrooms, also in the Netherlands. They don’t become very many, but according to Napolitano they are separate from those of the other brands of Stellantis. There are 100 new dealers across Europe, spread over 60 major cities.
New Ypsilon bites off
You don’t return to the hard-fought European car market with a model and certainly not with a car that is more than ten years old. Napolitano says that Lancia sees a three-model range for the time being, with which it says it covers roughly half of the segments.
From now on Lancia will introduce a new model every two years. The first model is unsurprisingly the new Ypsilon. It will first be launched on the Italian market in 2024, because the car enjoys the greatest popularity there. Then it is the turn of the rest of Europe, including the Netherlands and France. The new Ypsilon does not come exclusively with an electric powertrain on the market.
Partly due to this version with mild hybrid technology, the Ypsilon can still count on interest
Lancia’s provisional top model will be SUV
Two years later, Lancia comes with what it calls its flagship. For the time being, that car is going through life under the project name Aurelia, named after one of the favorite classic Lancias of Napolitano and his team. Although he openly questions whether using the model name Aurelia is the right thing, there are plenty of options. “We love the Greek alphabet, so we can go either way,” said Lancia’s CEO, referring to names such as Gamma and Kappa (and of course Ypsilon and Delta) that Lancia used in the past.
The Aurelia will be an SUV. According to Napolitano, that is simply what the market is asking for: aim for an SUV about 4.6 meters long, which is comparable in size to SUVs such as the Audi Q5. Lancia says it will only introduce fully electric models from 2026, which means that the ‘Aurelia’ will be an electric car.
The Lancia Aurelia was available in several versions, of which this is one
Legendary Lancia Delta returns
When you say Lancia, you say Delta. The Volkswagen Golf competitor of the brand also returns. And that in 2028. “Delta, that is the car we want and we are working towards it. However, that name is not yet completely fixed,” explains Napolitano. Count on a car that will become a technical brother of the Opel Astra, Peugeot 308 and DS 4. From 2028, Lancia will only sell fully electric cars.
The quick versions of the Delta from the 1980s are highly sought after collectibles
Italian luxury is different from French luxury
If we take a closer look at the Stellantis portfolio, we now find a motley collection of brands whose individual placement may be a bit difficult. Stellantis calls Alfa Romeo and DS its premium brands and according to Napolitano it also includes Lancia under the premium umbrella.
But how does Lancia differ from, for example, DS? According to the Lancia CEO, mainly with appearance and brand experience, because of course Lancia also uses the same technology as its sister brands. Distinction has indeed been considered. “Lancia is able to attract a special type of customer. We are targeting the new premium customers, young people who like to lead the way, are progressive and pay attention to sustainability.”
But that’s not all. “Lancia values Italian elegance. That is very different from the French elegance you see at DS. Lancia stands for purity, understated and simple design in which we hide details. We don’t want cars full of buttons. DS is more extravagant .” According to Napolitano, the Lancia customer has similarities with the Volvo buyer in terms of ‘world view’.
Will Lancia, as a premium brand, be a direct opponent of brands such as Volvo, BMW and Mercedes-Benz? Yes and no. Napolitano is under no illusions. “We are not there yet. Let’s be honest, Lancia is not a real premium brand now, but we are working towards it. From a price point of view, we take Audi as the benchmark, then Mercedes-Benz. But we are not naive, that is our goals for now. We are taking everything step by step.”
The cautious approach also means that Lancia will not return to motorsport immediately. In its 115 years of existence, it has achieved great success in motorsport. Think of the World Championship rally victories of the Delta and the Stratos, but also those of the Fulvia and the 037.
According to Napolitano, Lancia has no plans to return to motorsport for the time being. The word ‘for now’ is important here. “We have to establish a brand again and so we have to set priorities. We are not saying that we will never enter motorsport, but we are taking small steps. We will start with the first new models, then we will see.”