At the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011, Lancia will unveil a Chrysler-based flagship and a new version of its best-selling model, the Ypsilon, which is crucial to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne's plan to nearly triple Lancia sales in the next four years.
The Lancia flagship will be a rebadged version of the new Chrysler 300 sedan and will likely be named the Thema, a name that Lancia used in the 1980s and 1990s. Lancia hopes the Thema will revamp the brand's image but it will not be a volume seller with annual sales forecast between 10,000 and 15,000.
Starting in late 2011, the Thema will go on sale with a Lancia badge in mainland Europe and as a Chrysler in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where Lancias are not available.
A new grille and Europe-specific bumpers are some of the features of the new Lancia version of the Chrysler 300. The Lancia car will also offer the same gasoline engines as the Chrysler 300. About 80 percent of Thema sales are expected to be a version with a new 230-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 turbo diesel engine built by Italy's VM Motori.
Chrysler's factory in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, will build the 300 and Thema sedans. The new Chrysler 300 for the U.S. market will debut in January 2011 at the Detroit auto show and will go on sale in North America in the first quarter.
Its interior has been revamped to be more upscale than the six-year-old current car. The new Chrysler 300 has the new face of Chrysler, with a redesigned badge and grille. [via autonews - sub. required]