45°01′23″N 7°38′28″E / 45.0230377°N 7.6410842°E / 45.0230377; 7.6410842

Lancia
Company typeSubsidiary (S.p.A.)
IndustryAutomotive
Founded27 November 1906; 117 years ago (1906-11-27)
FounderVincenzo Lancia
HeadquartersTurin, Italy
Area served
Italy
Key people
John Elkann (Chairman, Stellantis)
Luca Napolitano (CEO)
ProductsAutomobiles
Production output
43,076 (2020)
OwnerStellantis
ParentStellantis Europe
Websitewww.lancia.com

Lancia (Italian: [ˈlantʃa]) is an Italian car manufacturer and a subsidiary of Stellantis Europe, which is currently a Stellantis division. The present legal entity of Lancia was formed in January 2007 when its corporate parent reorganised its businesses, but its history is traced back to Lancia & C., a manufacturing concern founded in 1906 in Torino by Vincenzo Lancia (1881–1937) and Claudio Fogolin. It became part of Fiat in 1969.

The brand is known for its strong rallying heritage, and technical innovations such as the unibody chassis of the 1922 Lambda and the five-speed gearbox introduced in the 1948 Ardea.[1] Despite not competing in the World Rally Championship since 1992, Lancia still holds more Manufacturers' Championships than any other brand.

Sales of Lancia-branded vehicles declined from over 300,000 annual units sold in 1990 to less than 100,000 by 2010. After corporate parent Fiat acquired a stake in Chrysler in 2009, the Lancia brand portfolio was modified to include rebadged Chrysler products, for sale in most European markets. In the United Kingdom and Ireland however, Lancias were rebadged as Chryslers. As sales continued to drop the Lancia-badged Chryslers were no longer offered after 2015. Since then, the company's only product has been the Lancia Ypsilon, and sales outside of Italy ended in 2017. Despite Lancia's much smaller brand presence, the Ypsilon continues to be popular in Italy; in fact it was the second best-selling car there in 2019.[2]

The newly merged Franco-Italian-American company Stellantis stated that it would try to revive Italy's Lancia, with the move also suggesting there would be more than one model for the brand,[3] as well as sales outside of Italy for the first time in years.[4][5][6]

History

Foundation and early years

Lancia Beta Torpedo (1909)

Lancia & C. Fabbrica Automobili was founded on 27 November 1906 in Turin by Fiat racing drivers, Vincenzo Lancia and his friend, Claudio Fogolin. The first car manufactured by Lancia was the "Tipo 51" or "12 HP" (later called "Alfa"), which remained in production from 1907 to 1908. It had a small four-cylinder engine with a power output of 28 PS (21 kW; 28 hp).[7]

In 1910, Lancia components were exported to the United States where they were assembled and sold as SGVs by the SGV Company.[8] In 1915, Lancia also manufactured its first truck, the Jota, that continued as a dedicated series. In 1937, Vincenzo died of a heart attack. His wife, Adele Miglietti Lancia, and his son, Gianni Lancia, took over control of the company. They persuaded Vittorio Jano to join as an engineer. Jano had already made a name for himself by designing various Alfa Romeo models, including some of its most successful race cars ever such as the 6C, P2 and P3.

The former Lancia Borgo San Paolo Plant in Turin, where Lancia automobiles were first produced

Lancia is renowned in the automotive world for introducing cars with numerous innovations. These include the Theta of 1913, which was the first European production car to feature a complete electrical system as standard equipment.[9] Lancia's first car adopting a monocoque chassis, the Lambda produced from 1922 to 1931, featured 'Sliding Pillar' independent front suspension that incorporated the spring and hydraulic damper into a single unit (a feature that would be employed in subsequent Lancias, up to the Appia that was replaced in 1963). In 1948, the first 5-speed gearbox was fitted to a production car (Series 3 Ardea). Lancia premiered the first[10] full-production V6 engine, in the 1950 Aurelia, after earlier industry-leading experiments with V8 and V12 engine configurations. It was also the first manufacturer to produce a V4 engine.[11] Other innovations involved the use of independent suspension in production cars (in an era where live axles were common practice for both the front and rear axles of a car), and rear transaxles, which were first fitted to the Aurelia and Flaminia range. This drive for innovation, constant quest for excellence, fixation of quality, complex construction processes and antiquated production machinery meant that all cars essentially had to be hand-made. With little commonality between the various models, the cost of production continued to rise, while flat demand eventually affected Lancia's viability.[citation needed]

Gianni Lancia, a graduate engineer, was president of Lancia from 1947 to 1955. In 1956, the Pesenti family took control, with Carlo Pesenti in charge of the company.[12]

1969 to 2021

Entrance of the former Lancia Borgo San Paolo Plant in Turin, repurposed as a civic center

Fiat launched a take-over bid in October 1969. It was accepted by Lancia as the company was losing significant sums of money, with losses in 1969 being £20 million.[13] This was not the end of the distinctive Lancia marque, and new models in the 1970s such as the Stratos, Gamma and Beta proved that Fiat wished to preserve the image of the brand it had acquired. Autobianchi, bought by Fiat Group just a year before, was put under the control of Lancia.[14]

During the 1970s and 1980s, Lancia had great success in rallying, winning many World Rally Championships.

During the 1980s, the company cooperated with Saab Automobile, with the Lancia Delta being sold as the Saab 600 in Sweden. The 1985 Lancia Thema also shared a platform with the Saab 9000, Fiat Croma and the Alfa Romeo 164. During the 1990s, all models were closely related to other Fiat models.

Starting from 1 February 2007, Fiat's automotive operations were reorganised.[15] Fiat Auto became Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A., Fiat S.p.A.'s branch handling mainstream automotive production. Simultaneously the current company, Lancia Automobiles S.p.A., was created from the pre-existing brand, and controlled 100% by FCA.[15] In 2011, Lancia moved in another direction and added new models manufactured by Chrysler and sold under the Lancia badge in many European markets, such as the 300 (named Thema), 200 Convertible (as Flavia) and Voyager. Conversely, Lancia-built models began to be sold in right-hand drive markets under the Chrysler badge.

In 2015 Lancia's parent company Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A. became FCA Italy S.p.A., reflecting the earlier incorporation of Fiat S.p.A. into Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.[16]

After 2015, all models produced by Chrysler were discontinued in the European market. Since then, the Lancia brand has remained alive, only by continuing to manufacture and sell the Ypsilon - which received another slight facelift in 2020 - exclusively in the Italian market.

2021–present - Relaunch under Stellantis

Despite doubts about the brand's future following the completion of the Stellantis merger in 2021, Lancia was made part of a joint group with sister companies Alfa Romeo and DS Automobiles, to develop new premium models for the 2024 model year.[17][18][19] As part of Stellantis' recovery plan for Lancia, Luca Napolitano was appointed the car maker's CEO,[20] and Jean-Pierre Ploué its chief designer.[21]

Three new electric models were announced in June 2021: a new subcompact car - which became the fourth generation of Ypsilon; a compact crossover (codenamed L74) [22][23] - confirmed later in April 2023 as a five-door fastback CUV named Gamma, scheduled for a 2026 release;[24][25][26] and a compact hatchback, likely to be a new Delta.[27][4][6]

Lancia Pu+Ra HPE (2023)

On November 28, 2022, Luca Napolitano laid the cornerstone of Lancia's "renaissance" by revealing a new logo and introducing the new Pu+Ra (Pure + Radical) Design language - through a sculpture called Pu+Ra Zero.[28][29] Inspired by historic models such as the Aurelia, Flaminia, Delta and the 1970 Stratos Zero concept car, future electric models will be adorned by both organic lines and geometric shapes at the same time. The iconic calice grille was reinterpreted as a new Y-shaped LED light signature, with the new wordmark above them, instead of the shield.[30] At the rear, round taillights pays homage directly to the Stratos sports car. All these design shapes were later applied into a fully-functional concept car: the Lancia Pu+Ra HPE Concept presented on 15 April 2023 in Milan.[31][32]

In 12 December 2023, a prototype of the fourth generation of Ypsilon was found at the deep of a canal in the Montbeliard region, France, close to a Stellantis' plant in Sochaux; unveiling its final design few months before the official unveil. The model had been presumed stolen during development testing rides before the sinking.[33][34]

In 14 February 2024, Lancia officially launches the fourth generation of Ypsilon, first under a limited production edition called Ypsilon Edizione Limitata Cassina, codeveloped between Lancia and Italian high-end furniture manufacturer Cassina S.p.A.. Production of the model is capped at 1,906 units, the amount referencing Lancia's foundation in 1906.[35]

The Lancia Ypsilon dominated the Italian market in the first months of 2024, recording exceptional numbers for the brand. Concluding the first quarter with 12,923 units sold, up 16.4% compared to the same period in 2023.[36]

Production models

Lancia production
1990–2023[37][38]
Year Cars
1990 300,087
1991 265,172
1992 223,127
1993 163,636
1994 163,535
1995 162,416
1996 159,251
1997 176,211
1998 175,215
1999 161,019
2000 170,348
2001 134,812
2002 110,529
2003 108,989
2004 118,201
2005 115,543
2006 122,956
2007 118,036
2008 113,307
2009 113,810
2010 97,757
2011 100,007
2012 98,733
2013 71,223
2014 69,835
2015 61,652
2016 67,059
2017 60,620
2018 48,555
2019 58,759
2020 43,033[39]
2021 43,735[40]
2022 40,991[41][42]
2023 44,743[43]

Current car models

Lancia Ypsilon

Main article: Lancia Ypsilon

2024 Lancia Ypsilon

The Ypsilon is a premium 5-door supermini car produced since 2011. It is based on an updated Fiat 500 platform. It was previously available for sale in many European markets; however, since 2017, it has only been available in Italy. In the United Kingdom and Ireland it was previously sold as the Chrysler Ypsilon.[44]

Although it is the only Lancia car in production and only for sale in Italy, the Ypsilon continues to be popular there; it was the second best-selling car in Italy in 2019.[2]

Past car models

Historical models

The Lancia Aurelia introduced the front engine rear transmission configuration later used by Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, GM, Volvo and Maserati, as well as the V6 engine, which is now common. It had inboard rear brakes, an important way of reducing un-sprung weight.

The Lancia Stratos was a successful rally car during the 1970s, and helped the company to improve its sporting credentials.

Chrysler-derived models

The second generation Lancia Thema executive car (2011 – 2014) was a re-branded second generation Chrysler 300 unveiled in 2011 to replace the Thesis. It reused the name of the Italian made 1984–94 Thema saloon. It used to be available in various European markets, but for the United Kingdom and Ireland it was only sold as the Chrysler 300C. It was discontinued in 2015.

The Lancia Voyager was a large MPV unveiled in 2011, which was based on the Chrysler Town & Country. It was marketed in various European markets, but for the United Kingdom and Ireland it was only sold as the Chrysler Grand Voyager. It was discontinued in 2015.

Between 2012 and 2014, the Chrysler 200 Convertible was rebranded and marketed under the Lancia Flavia name.[45] The Flavia was only available in left-hand drive markets, and thus not sold in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

Concept cars

See also: List of Lancia concept cars

Lancia Fulvia Coupé Concept at IAA 2003 designed by Flavio Manzoni

Lancia has shown several concept cars to the public including the Flaminia Loratmo (1958), Stratos Zero (1970), the Megagamma by Italdesign Giugiaro and Sibilo by Bertone in 1978, Hit (1988) by Pininfarina, the Bertone-designed Kayak (1995), the Dialogos (1998) and Nea in 2000.[46] The company showed the Granturismo Stilnovo and Fulvia[47] concepts in 2003. Lancia has shown the PU+RA HPE concept in 2023 as part of brand renaissance strategy.

Special cars

In the end of 1960, Lancia made their first landaulet-limousine for the President of Italy, called the Lancia Flaminia 335 Presidenziale.

In 1989, Lancia made a limousine version of the Thema. 24 examples for Fiat-Group executives.

In 1999, Lancia made a one-off limousine version of the Kappa and at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show, Stola showed a limousine version of the Thesis.

Export markets

In January 2014, in an interview with La Repubblica, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne foreshadowed that Lancia would become an Italy–only brand, and focus only on the Ypsilon supermini range.[48]

United States

While some models had been imported on a small scale during the 1950s to the 1960s, Lancias were sold in the United States from 1975. Sales were comparatively slow, and the range was withdrawn at the same time as Fiat in 1982.

In 2009, following Fiat's acquisition of a stake in United States-based Chrysler and part of Chrysler's restructuring plans, it was stated that Fiat plans for the Chrysler brand and Lancia to co–develop products, with some vehicles being shared. Olivier Francois, Lancia's CEO, took over as CEO of the Chrysler division in October 2009. Fiat also announced that, depending on the market, some Chrysler cars would be sold as Lancias and vice versa.

Francois' plans to re-establish the Chrysler brand as an upscale brand were somewhat muddied by the discontinuance of the Plymouth brand.[49] At the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, a Chrysler-badged Lancia Delta was on display,[50] but this did not result in sales in the United States, with proposals to instead modify an Alfa Romeo for sale by 2013.[51]

United Kingdom

Lancia's reputation was significantly undermined in 1980, when defective Lancia Beta models, suffering from significant suspension sub-frame corrosion problems, were purchased back from owners by the company in a highly publicised campaign. These cars were later crushed.[52] The brand never recovered from the damage inflicted during the Beta recall and, combined with a range of related factors (including poor residual values, which made their range uncompetitive), decided to withdraw from the United Kingdom (and other right-hand drive markets) in February 1994.[53] The last model to be sold in the United Kingdom was the Delta, boosted by its rallying reputation, withdrawn from sale in 1995, although a small number of left-hand drive Lancia models have since reached the UK as personal imports.

After 1995, there were continuous rumours suggesting Lancia's return to the United Kingdom. In November 2005, What Car? reported rumours over the alleged return, to rival "affordable" premium makes, such as Saab and Volvo.[54] In September 2006, What Car? reported that Lancia were returning to the United Kingdom.[55] The relaunch date was set for August 2008. In April 2008, Car reported that Lancia had postponed the relaunch.[56] In June 2009, Autocar reported that the relaunch of Lancia was now “very unlikely”.[57]

These rumours were credible since Lancia models, by that time, shared common parts with Fiat and Alfa Romeo models that were imported, sold and maintained by an existing dealership network. The cost to reestablish the brand would therefore be minimal. In December 2008, however, Fiat cancelled relaunch plans, due to financial concerns coinciding with the global financial crisis, and the recession.[58]

In 2011, Lancia Ypsilon and Delta models were eventually reintroduced to the United Kingdom, but were sold under the Chrysler marque. In January 2014, the slow-selling Delta model was dropped from this line-up. In March 2015, Fiat Group announced that the Chrysler brand would be discontinued in the United Kingdom in 2017, citing a desire to focus largely on the Jeep brand instead.[59]

Japan

A small number of Lancia models were previously sold in Japan, such as Fulvia, Stratos and Delta. More recently, some models have been sold under the Chrysler brand, such as the Ypsilon.

Lancia in motorsport

Formula One

See also: Lancia Grand Prix results

A Lancia D50A Formula One car

After Vincenzo Lancia's son Gianni became director of the firm, it started to take part more frequently in motorsport, eventually deciding to build a Grand Prix car. Vittorio Jano was the new designer for Lancia and his Lancia D50 was entered into the 1954 Spanish Grand Prix, where Alberto Ascari took the pole position and drove the fastest lap. In the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix Ascari crashed into the harbour after missing a chicane. One week later Ascari was killed in an accident driving a Ferrari sports car at Monza. With Ascari's death and Lancia's financial problems the company withdrew from Grand Prix racing.[60] Altogether Lancia took two victories and ten podiums in Formula One.[61]

Remnants of the Lancia team were transferred to Scuderia Ferrari,[62] where Juan Manuel Fangio won the 1956 championship with a Lancia-Ferrari car.

Rallying

See also: Lancia in rallying

A Lancia Delta S4 Group B rally car

Lancia has been very successful in motorsport over the years, and mostly in the arena of rallying. Prior to the forming of the World Rally Championship (WRC), Lancia took the final International Championship for Manufacturers title with the Fulvia in 1972. In the WRC, they remain the most statistically successful marque (despite having withdrawn at the end of the 1993 season), winning constructors' titles with the Stratos (1974, 1975 and 1976), the 037 (1983) and the Delta (six consecutive wins from 1987 to 1992). The Delta is also the most successful individual model designation ever to compete in rallying. All this gave Lancia a total of 11 Championships over the years and 15 European Championship from 1969 to 1992.

Juha Kankkunen and Miki Biasion both won two drivers' titles with the Delta. Among other drivers to take several World Rally Championship wins with Lancia were Markku Alén, Didier Auriol, Sandro Munari, Bernard Darniche, Walter Röhrl, Björn Waldegård and Henri Toivonen. The history of the brand in rallying is also tainted with tragedy, with deaths of Italian driver Attilio Bettega at the 1985 Tour de Corse in a Lancia 037 and then Finnish championship favourite Toivonen in a Lancia Delta S4 at the same rally exactly a year later. These deaths would eventually lead to the end of Group B rallying.

Sports car racing

Lancia D24

In 1951 Mille Miglia, Lancia Aurelia B20 GT came second overall. The car was driven by Thornley Kelham.[63]

In 1953, Umberto Maglioli won the Targa Florio at the wheel of the Lancia D20. The same year Lancia introduced the D24 sports racer, which was an evolution of D23 model, but rebodied as a spider by Pinin Farina. Its most significant victories were the 1953 Carrera Panamericana, the 1954 Mille Miglia and the 1954 Targa Florio.

A Lancia Beta Montecarlo Group 5 car

During Lancia's dominance of rallying, the company also expanded into sports cars in the late 1970s until the mid-1980s. It first ran the Stratos HF in Group 4, and for a brief interlude with a rare Group 5 version. The car was replaced with the successful Beta Montecarlo Turbo winning the FIA's 1980 World Championship for Makes and 1981 World Endurance Championship for Makes and the 1980 Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft.

A Lancia LC2 Group C sports car

In 1982 the team moved up to Group 6 with the LC1 Spyder, followed by the Group C LC2 coupé which featured a Ferrari powerplant in 1983. The LC2 was a match for the standard-setting Porsche 956 in terms of raw speed, securing 13 pole positions over its lifetime; however, its results were hampered by poor reliability and fuel economy, and it only managed to win three European and World Endurance Championship races. The team's inability to compete against the dominant Porsche 956 and 962 sports cars led it to drop out of sportscar racing at the end of 1986 in order to concentrate on rallying, although private teams continued to enter LC2s with declining results until the early 1990s.

Titles

Commercial vehicles

Lancia produced a wide range of vans, trucks, buses and military vehicles from the beginning, forming Lancia Veicoli Industriali in 1912. Lancia slowly withdrew from the commercial sectors during the late 1960s and production of commercial vehicles ended in the early 1970s, shortly after Fiat's takeover of the company, with some models transferred to Iveco.

Lancia Superjolly

Light commercial vehicles

Heavy commercial vehicles

Lancia Triota 1921
Lancia Esadelta C
Lancia Esagamma E
Lancia trolleybus in Athens
Lancia 3RO military truck

Buses

Trolleybuses

Military vehicles

Cannone da 90/53 on a Lancia truck

Tractor

Other

Engines

Lancia Flavia Flat four

The company has also made industrial engines.[citation needed]

Media and sponsorship

Two Lancia Stratos side by side

In 2009, the British motoring television show Top Gear suggested that Lancia had more 'great' models than any other car company.[65] The presenters went on to test the Gamma Coupé, Fulvia Coupé, Aprilia, Montecarlo, Beta Coupé, HPE, Stratos, 037, Delta Integrale Evo II and Thema 8.32. They also stated during their review that Lancia made the best-looking cars, even though they are unreliable.[citation needed]

Lancia sponsored the Venice Film Festival for five years, ending in 2012, with the Lancia Thema used to transport stars to the festival.[66] Lancia was sponsor of the ninth and eleventh World Summits of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

See also

References

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Further reading