There are three “premium” brands in Stellantis land: Alfa Romeo, DS and Lancia. And all three will get “jointly developed models” as part of a new collaboration among them, perhaps as soon as 2024.
There’s going to be a new Lancia! Maybe more than one!
DS product director Marion David informed Automotive News Europe about the plan in a recent interview:
“We are working with our Italian colleagues on specific premium modules, powertrains and features to differentiate the premium brands from the mainstream brands,” she said Wednesday at a launch event for the DS 4 compact hatchback.
You may think that Lancia is going to be the third wheel in this initiative, as it’s the smallest brand, selling exactly one car (the Ypsilon compact) in one market (Italy.) There’s a precedent for Lancia getting the shaft in terms of products: In the early 2010s, FCA decided it was a good idea to badge-engineer the Chrysler 300, 200 and Town & Country as the Lancia Thema, Flavia and Voyager in Europe.
That evidently didn’t work out so well, because Lancia dropped those Chrysler-derived models after only a few years and pulled out of every market except its home one in 2017. It still breaks my brain that the Chrysler 300 is technically a descendant of the rally legend you see in the top shot there, but that’s another story.
Here’s the thing, though: The humble, Fiat 500-based Lancia Ypsilon actually happens to print money. The automaker shifted 43,109 of them in Italy last year, compared with Alfa’s 36,526 and DS’s 43,028 cars in all of Europe. The Ypsilon was the second-best-selling car in Italy in 2019, behind only the Fiat Panda.
Us rally fans may lament the fact Lancia hasn’t produced an all-terrain destroyer of worlds in almost three decades, but it’s comforting that the brand is beloved enough domestically to exist off the success of one pretty average-looking subcompact. In fact, the 10-year-old Ypsilon just received a facelift this week, presenting a number of modest changes I’m sure Lancia enthusiasts in Italy will love that, let’s be honest, aren’t relevant to anyone else. So I won’t bother explaining them here.
A few years from now, though, the Ypsilon may not be alone. Of course, it’s wishful thinking to hope that the new shared Lancia-Alfa-DS will honor the boutique marque’s sporting past in any way, and personally, I gave up expecting Lancia to be anything more than what it is about 15 years ago. Still, I wish it all the success in the world. Because it’s Lancia.