Why Lancia Went From Rally Cars to MPVs
What happened to Lancia?
Most of Lancia's publicity comes from their massive rally success during the seventies, eighties, and early nineties. Lancia performed brilliantly in Group B rallying, switching to Group A rallying when Group B was cancelled. However, when Group A ended in 1993, Lancia chose not to return for an unknown reason.
The non-performance version of the Lancia Delta
Besides their rally cars, Lancia's lineup was a fairly average, normal premium-vehicle range. Their lineup in 1989 consisted of the Y10 city car, Delta and Prisma compacts, and top-of-the-range Thema. After the rallying ended, Lancia began to shift from sportiness to comfort; under Fiat, Alfa Romeo was the sporty premium brand, not Lancia. The Lancia Lybra and Kappa, successors of the Prisma and Thema, were based on the Alfa Romeo 156 and 166, but were comfy rather than sporty. The "comfort" theme is reflected in Lancia's MPVs, the Phedra and Musa, which were premium variants of the Fiat Ulysse and Idea.
After Fiat and Chrysler's merger, Chrysler and Lancia exchanged products; since Lancias had not been available in the UK since 1994 but Chrysler was still there, the Lancia Ypsilon (based on the Fiat 500) and Delta (based on the Fiat Bravo) were sold as Chryslers in the UK starting in 2011. Meanwhile, the Chrysler Voyager (Town & Country in the US), 200 convertible, and 300 became the Lancia Voyager, Flavia, and Thema for other parts of Europe.
Sales were lackluster in both locations, so in 2014, Chrysler left Europe and Lancia discontinued all of their models except the Ypsilon, which was by far their best-selling model, and left all markets except Italy in 2017. Although sales of the Ypsilon had steadied at around 60,000 cars per year, sales dipped to 48,603 in 2018, but jumped back up to 58,820 in 2019.
Lancia Ypsilon hybrid
Then, during 2020, a hybrid version debuted, signifying that FCA was not quite done with Lancia before the merger with PSA. A new all-electric 500 is here, so there is a (highly debatable) possibility of a next-generation Ypsilon. There may even be a Lancia version of a possible next-generation 500X, and another Delta if the Fiat Tipo sees a second generation.
Only time will tell.