The Thema is perhaps one of the most controversial products of the group in the last years. When Fiat decided to rebadge the Chrysler 300 to sell it as a Lancia in Europe, lot of people in and outside Italy claimed that Fiat was killing the identity of the brand. By that time, early 2012, the group set a target of 10.000 units sold by year in Europe. It was clearly a small number that considered the fact that it is not a cheap car and is an American car. Its first full year results show that the Thema is a complete flop just as most of analyst expected when it was introduced. The problem with this big sedan is that it is positioned in a segment where competition is really tough and it is not the latest offer in terms of technology and features. In 2012 Lancia sold almost 2.000 units of the Thema (UK included): 20% of the target, which is nothing.
Nevertheless, Lancia’s flagship had a big jump year-on-year as in 2011, when it was introduced in some European markets, it had very small sales figures. 7 out 8 markets evaluated had increases on sales. But in Italy things didn’t go well either. Even if its sales registrations jumped 95%, the Thema is behind all of its German rivals. Its ‘native’ country counted for 40% of total sales. Curiously the UK, where the Thema/300 was late to arrive, became the second largest market. In terms of share the Thema got its best in Italy, with around 4% of E-Segment. It was followed by Spain where this big car got 1,2% of that segment. Too bad for Germany: 0,11%.
This car is supposed to be on sale for at least 2 more years. Lancia and Chrysler should be working now on a new generation taking into account both markets, the American and European, needs. The next Thema (I doubt it will continue to use that name in the future) will have a more global identity. Meanwhile the current Lancia Thema will continue to be offered and its sales will be testimonial. At the end, this car is doing its job: it allows Lancia to have a wider range of products, with a flagship sedan ideal for executives and company fleets. It is not popular, but it is the way Lancia can continue to offer a big sedan while better times come.