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by Tim Beissmann

Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne says Lancia cars will be sold in Australia badged as Chryslers, according to automotive industry journal GoAuto.

Mr Marchionne told GoAuto the global plan to expand the Chrysler range with Lancias and other Fiat Group vehicles included Australia.

“Yes, you will [see Lancias as Chryslers in Australia]. Fear not, you will. To the extent that Lancia is not active, not present in any given jurisdiction, Chrysler will be with a combined offering of Lancia and Chrysler,” he said.

Despite there currently being no right-hand drive Lancia models, Mr Marchionne is reportedly interested in expanding into the right-hand drive UK market and combining the two brands throughout the world.

“The benefit of this alliance is that both Lancia and Chrysler will become full liners.

“In the case of Chrysler they had nothing below the Sebring and in the case of the Lancia they had nothing above the Delta, so it is a good marriage,” he said.

But Chrysler Australia public relations manager, Jerry Stamoulis, remained much more tight-lipped on Lancia’s possible re-entry as rebadged Chryslers.

“It’s something I can’t comment on … not at this stage, no. There’s not much I can say,” he said.

Mr Stamoulis said he was not aware of any product plans for right-hand drive versions of Lancias and could not confirm that they will arrive in Australia.

He said despite the mid-sized Sebring currently being the smallest car offered by Chrysler Australia, no specific models or segments were being targeted for new vehicles.

“As with every vehicle that is put to us we put together a business case and it really depends on the vehicle and a lot of other factors. You can always fill a gap in the market but it all comes down to specification and pricing.

“There isn’t a particular area that we’re looking at but it’s whatever is presented to us at the time and we build our business case from there,” he said.

Chrysler revealed a rebadged version of the Lancia Delta at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with minimal fuss last week, but it seems to be a sign of things to come from the high-spec brand.

Lancia’s range includes the Delta (a five-door Fiat Ritmo-based hatch), Ypsilon (a three-door Fiat 500-based city car), and the Musa and Phedra people-movers.

Chrysler’s Australian sales fell 26.4 per cent in 2009 with just 1818 new cars finding homes.

With the total small car market making up 213,988 vehicles (or 22.8 percent) Chrysler could certainly do with at least one model in this segment. Only nine Sebring’s were sold in Australia in December, six of those the Cabrio version.

(with GoAuto)




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