Fiat Auto has postponed the return of right-hand-drive Lancia models due to the economic crisis.

"Given the current global economic crisis, Fiat Group Automobiles has taken the decision to delay the reintroduction of the Lancia brand in right hand drive markets beyond 2009," the automaker said in a statement.

Asked when the launch would now happen, a spokeswoman said "It's very hard to say. We just have to monitor the situation."

She added that the plan was to launch the brand in the UK through the 50-outlet Alfa Romeo network.

Fiat had intended to restart RHD sales here with the Delta compact next summer.

Other RHD markets where Lancias were once sold, including Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia, would also be keen to see the famous brand return.

Fiat chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne said recently the crisis facing the industry called for a total revision of plans for the first part of next year.

"We're just going to slam the brakes on, cut back to essentials. After that, we're in the dark because I have no idea of future demand. We're ready to weather this uncertainty, but it will not be easy," he was quoted as saying.

The development of all models not 80 to 90% completed had been halted.

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