If Alfa Romeo had a terrible 2012, Lancia is not far from that result, and means also a problem for Fiat Group. Last year this mythical brand was able to sell around 94.000 units all over the world, down 8% circa. This number includes UK, Ireland and Japan registrations for original Lancia models (Ypsilon and Delta). Once again Lancia fails selling cars as this result is really bad considering its glorious past, and the good status the brand used to have some years ago. There are many problems that explain this bad situation but in my opinion, its range of products and low awareness count for a big part of this mess. Lancia is not well positioned and in many cases consumers don’t even know about it (outside Italy). Besides, it’s hard to determine what Lancia is or what it intends to be. Sure they want to become the fancy option in the segments, but it is my belief that many buyers don’t look for fancy cars when they want a B or C segment car. It could work in upper segments, but not in a Ypsilon with 85 cv and GPL engine (I repeat it works only in Italy where the brand is well-known).
But those are personal opinions regarding what I consider Lancia’s main problems. The truth is that Lancia is only popular in Italy where it could rise its market share thanks to the Ypsilon. Hence, it is the brand with lowest export ratio indicator of the group: 24% of its sales took place outside Italy. In other words, if it wasn’t because of the good awareness in Italy, this brand would had already been dead. I was able to get data for 32 markets plus the units coming from Chrysler Ypsilon and Chrysler Delta in the UK, Ireland and Japan. From that quantity of markets (35), 27 are coming from Europe, 3 come from Middle East/Africa, and 2 come from Asia. Europe counts for 99% of the brand’s sales in 2012. But as I said before, sales aren’t balanced in European continent. Italy counts for 77% of European sales, followed by France with 5,6%. A brand can’t survive depending on only one continent/country. That’s why I think the merge with Chrysler is the right thing for the future of the brand.
But not all is bad news. In terms of sales variation, Lancia was the best performer brand of the group in Europe. From 25 countries where I could get information on 2012 and 2011 years, the brand was able to increase its registrations in 20 markets. There is no data to compare UK’s results, but the brand didn’t do bad either. Total registrations fell because of Italian mess, where Lancia sold 71.000 units in 2012 against 86.000 one year before. The excellent results in Western Europe were not enough to offset Italian drop. It was an excellent result in terms of advance, because in terms of volume there is still a lot to do. Lancia can barely have more than 1% of market share in only one country, Italy excluded: Greece. But after that small market, the brand is really unpopular everywhere it has an official presence. The future? I’m afraid it’s quite dark, at least in 2013 when no important new products are expected to be introduced. Lancia will have to continue dealing with European crisis with its current range, according to the latest news coming from Alfredo Altavilla, Fiat Group’s EMEA CEO. He said that short and mid-term strategy for the brand will be to develop special editions (such as the latest ‘Elefantino’ edition for the Ypsilon, or the ‘Momo design’). This year Lancia will run out of its best product, the Delta, as its production will be halted along with the Fiat Bravo’s. Meanwhile, the Thema, Voyager and Flavia will continue to achieve low numbers, and the Ypsilon will start its decline period of its life cycle. Lancia may sell around 70.000 units this year.