Lancia launch in UK 'now unlikely'

* UK relaunch postponed * Small cars the priority * Fiat focuses on Chrysler alliance...

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What Car? Staff
26 June 2009

Lancia launch in UK 'now unlikely'

Fiat has stalled its plans to relaunch its upmarket Lancia brand in the UK.

Although sales of right-hand-drive models were scheduled for early 2010 - to be spearheaded by the all-new Delta - imports have now been postponed until at least 2011, if they happen at all.

The relaunch of Lancia in the UK 'is now very unlikely', said Fiat UK marketing director Elena Bernadelli, who added that right-hand drive Lancias may now not be made.

Fiat is currently focusing on its alliance with Chrysler and the development of smaller cars for sale in North America; launching an expensive premium-brand product-line in Europe is not currently a priority, said a Fiat spokesman.

Plans to launch other new Fiat Group models have also been slowed. The rumoured new Fiat and Alfa Romeo sports cars an Elise-style roadster and a small coupe 'are just that, rumours', and have not been given the go-ahead for production.

A number of other models are also under evaluation and consideration, including a Giardiniera mini-estate based on the 500, but will not go ahead in the near future either.

Fiat's next all-new car rather than a replacement for an existing model is expected to be the Topolino, a mini city car even smaller than the 500.

This is due to go into production at the former Yugo-Zastava factory in Serbia next year; four-seat versions come first, followed by Smart-rivalling two-seaters. It's a new model better suited to the world recession than a highly-priced, limited-appeal Lancia.