A tough economy in Europe may force Fiat finally kill off the Lancia brand.
The webosphere has been alight these past few days with talk regarding the fate of Lancia, that other Italian automotive brand that's part of the growing, yet economically troubled Fiat empire. Despite a long history filled with such notable cars as the Stratos and the Delta Integrale, Lancia today is but a shell of its former self, failing to differentiate itself from its corporate cousins. Its customer base is made up largely by older, more conservative buyers, and you can just ask Mercury, Oldsmobile and Plymouth how that worked out for them.
With the growing European economic crisis contributing to Fiat's financial woes, rumors are afoot that Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne intends to kill the Lancia brand as part of a "drastic reorganization". The brand currently makes only two of its own models - the Ypsilon and the Delta - while the rest are rebadged Chryslers. In order to help make up the market difference, Fiat supposedly plans to move Maserati slightly down-market and Alfa Romeo more upmarket to plug the gap, while the Fiat brand itself focuses on small models like the 500 and Panda, while Jeep expands its product portfolio to better suit a global market.
According to a Chrysler spokesperson cited by Motor Trend, however, these rumors are false, and Lancia is set to continue with its current model line. So it appears that Lancia will continue on for now, but given the fact that Fiat is forecasted to post a massive €700 million loss for 2012, we wouldn't be shocked to see Marchionne give the storied but troubled Lancia brand the axe in an effort to downsize.