Lancia bets on online sales in European expansion

Europe

TURIN — Stellantis is aiming to make 50 percent of Lancia sales online as the automaker gears up to relaunch the premium brand across Europe, Lancia CEO Luca Napolitano said.

The 116-year-old brand, which had shrunk to just one model in one market — its home of Italy — plans to launch a new Ypsilon model in Italy in early 2024, and then in France, Germany, Spain, Belgium by the end of June that year, Napolitano said.

The small Ypsilon will debut with a full-electric option as well as internal combustion engines, but all models after that will be only full-electric.

“I can see about 100 dealerships in the 60 major European cities … and a massive use of the digital world,” Napolitano said. “Here we expect 50 percent of sales to be online,” he said, adding online sales would be completed through dealers.

Lancia on Friday announced the official start of its 10-year plan in a news release, although much of the information has already been revealed.

Lancia also named country brand managers in the release: Paola Pichierri for France, Niccolo Biagioli for Germany, Francesco Colonnese for Spain, Patrice Duclos for Begium and Luxembourg, and Patrick Zegwaard for the Netherlands. Raffaele Ruffo will head Italy, and Roberta Zerbi, head of Lancia brand for Enlarged Europe, will coordinate commercial activities.

Lancia said it had selected a limited number of countries for its expansion plans based on criteria that included the relevance of online sales and the market for premium small cars, as well as “passion for made in Italy.” 

The CEO said the UK was not currently part of Lancia’s plan, but that could change later.

Some analysts had thought Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares might kill the Lancia brand after the creation of a 14-brand group from the merger of PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles last year.

But he gave Lancia a chance to establish itself alongside the company’s other premium brands, Alfa Romeo and DS. The three brands work together to share development costs within Stellantis.

Lancia’s 10-year business plan is based on a three-model range. The new Ypsilon, both hybrid and full-electric, will be followed by a flagship compact crossover in 2026, currently nicknamed Aurelia, and a compact hatchback in 2028, the Delta, both full-electric models. Those three models will cover 50 percent of the market, Lancia said.

“We have a gap to cover with other major premium brands,” Napolitano said. “It’s important we start to confront them.”

He said Lancia would not need a lot of dealers or big showrooms and would coordinate with Alfa Romeo and DS.

He reiterated the brand would launch only full-electric cars from 2026 and would sell only EVs from 2028.

Reuters contributed to this report

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