Lancia's Rebirth Aught to Be Done Right, or It Will Be the Last Thing This Carmaker Sees

Lancia Pu+Ra Zero 36 photos
Photo: Lancia
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Earlier this week, back when it was still November, Lancia revealed its new logo, brand direction, a sculpture, and announced it will launch three new models in 2024. The event took place on November 28, which was just around the anniversary of 116 years after the brand was founded.
Yes, Lancia was founded back in 1906, on November 27, while its Design Day was held on November 28, 2022. Some sources attribute the founding of Lancia on November 29, but we are going to stick to the date announced by the FCA Heritage page, as the latter should have its facts right.

With that in mind, one cannot help but wonder why Lancia's Design Day missed the brand's anniversary. We were not there to ask any officials if it was intentional or not, or even if anyone cared about a brand's 116th anniversary. Usually, people “like” anniversaries that are "round," which means that they might party big time in 2026 when Lancia will celebrate its 120th anniversary.

Before that happens, we still have some questions that may remain unanswered, like the one regarding missing the brand's anniversary by a day when announcing its rebirth. The first of those near-rhetorical questions is why to wait until 2024 to launch a new Ypsilon. Moreover, a reborn Delta will have you waiting even longer, and the same will happen to a yet-unnamed flagship.

The problem is that people have a short memory, and collective patience is not that generous, either. Announcing you are going to offer something that people might be interested in buying almost two years from today might not be the best idea from a marketing perspective.

Lancia Pu\+Ra Zero
Photo: Lancia
In case you are wondering why that is a bad idea, nobody will have the patience to wait two years just to get a new Ypsilon. Who approved this wait time, and why?

While the vehicle may be cute in its way, it will take more than a nice price and that characteristic to get people to wait at least 13 months and a couple of days if you are to wait from November 28, 2022, all the way to January 2024. Mind you, this is just theoretical, as the Italian brand has not mentioned when in 2024 it will launch a new Ypsilon.

There is another issue here with the name Delta, which I think represents another missed opportunity for the company. As you may be aware, Lancia was doing great in rallying back in the late 1970s and early-to-mid 1980s.

It made the Stratos while also having the 037, and then there was the Delta. The latter had a desirable production variant that has become almost as sought after as a BMW M3 E30 today, and prices for a functional Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione with correct paperwork can come close to the values of an E30 M3.

Lancia Design Day Ypsilon Delta teaser
Photo: Lancia
Later, Lancia made a second-gen Delta, which was no longer related to the rally-bred model. It did not succeed in obtaining a cult following. The third-gen model was, perhaps, the last train to offer a retro-styled Delta with a hot hatch vibe.

Back in 2008, Lancia introduced a new generation of the Delta, which came in the same year as a global economic downturn. It was built on Fiat's C Platform, and it could have been ordered in a version that has a turbocharged gasoline engine with 200 metric horsepower. The mightiest diesel was a twin-turbo unit with 190 metric horsepower and 400 Nm of torque.

Even today, I have fond memories of driving the most powerful diesel version of the Lancia Delta, and I have actively searched to acquire one in recent years. No dice, because that particular variant was expensive back in 2008, and people did not order too many of them, so now you have to look for one and then pay more than for a much newer car that may be better.

The same happened when searching for the high-powered gasoline variant, which was also of interest. Good luck finding one at a reasonable price.  - yes, I still consider depreciation when acquiring a used car, and it hits hard when getting something from a "dead" brand, like Saab, or from one that is nearly dead, like Lancia.

The third-gen Delta could have been an excellent revival of the name if it had deployed a version with all-wheel-drive and a turbocharged gasoline engine. FCA had those in its line-up, and there was one for the Delta, as well, and all they needed to do was to either tune the chassis to make it a premium alternative to the Golf GTI or even a reborn Integrale with modern tech. Neither happened, and the Delta stopped being made eight years ago.

Lancia Pu\+Ra Zero
Photo: Lancia
In hindsight, both the third-gen and second-gen Delta models have wasted opportunities for Lancia. They had a good thing going with their rallying reputation, and it could have been turned into sales success, especially in the 1990s, when almost every mainstream brand had at least one sporty model in its range.

Now, Lancia's presentation videos remind us of its legacy by showing some of its legendary models but asking everyone to wait for two years, so they can launch a new Ypsilon, then a new Delta, and then a flagship.

Until then, in the two-to-four years that people are supposed to wait holding their breath, all we get is to look at a "3D design manifesto," which some have described as looking like a statue of a fancy computer mouse, as well as the promise of a revolution. The latter action usually happens seemingly overnight after people get upset because of things.

Stellantis has done this before with Alfa Romeo. They have not launched a new model for years, then reveal the Giulia QV, which has people holding their breath for real, and then hold out on a second model for too much time, launch the Stelvio, and then they do it again.

Lancia Pu\+Ra Zero
Photo: Lancia
The Tonale should be Alfa's bread and butter in sales, but its launch was delayed for quite some time before finally reaching dealers. If it fails to sell as expected, it may not be the fault of customers or the market, as everyone else is launching at least one new or refreshed model per year.

If the conglomerate has learned something from this, it should be the fact that waiting to release a second model is making it lose money, and you risk people forgetting about the brand if they have to wait too long to see it.

All we can hope is that Lancia's revival will be a genuine revolution, with new cars that are launched on time (or even sooner than initially expected), and those vehicles aught to over-deliver and under-promise to genuinely impress people.

Otherwise, this might all be one last hoorah that bothered Lancia on its deathbed, which we hope will not be the case. Let's not see Lancia suffer the fate of Saab or Pontiac just because nobody bothered speeding things up and allowing passion for flowing to showrooms at a reasonable price.
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Editor's note: For illustration purposes, the photo gallery shows images of the Lancia Pu+Ra 3D manifesto, as well as the new Lancia logo, and several historic models.

About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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