Lancia has boosted its sales in France by separating its sales operations from sister brand Fiat and plans a similar strategy for other European markets, Automotive News Europe reported.

"France is showing that Lancia has a future outside Italy," said Antonio Baravalle, Lancia's brand director.

In France, Lancia now has its own country manager who works in Fiat Auto's Paris office. The brand also has three field managers working with dealers.

Lancia's long-term target is to sell 18,000 cars a year in France, up from an expected 4,500 units this year.

Baravalle said France is the only market so far that has implemented Lancia's medium-term plan to increase sales.

"We have started building a separate Lancia organisation in that market," said Baravalle.

Lancia will implement similar reorganisations in Germany, Spain, Belgium and Greece to help reduce its dependence on its Italian home market.

Outside Italy and France, Lancia shares local management with Fiat and sometimes also with Alfa Romeo.

Of the 127,000 cars Lancia expects to sell this year, 79% will go to Italy.

Lancia wants to reduce that to 65% Italy by 2010.

Lancia expects to boost sales to 200,000 by 2010 from 115,000 last year, helped by adding three new models. They are a successor to the lower-medium Delta that was dropped in 1999, a medium-sized SUV, and a coupe based on the Fulvia concept that debuted at the 2003 Frankfurt motor show.

The new models could add 75,000 sales annually.

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