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November 14, 2005

ITALY: Lancia eyes return to right-hand drive markets

Fiat Auto’s Lancia brand is considering offering right-hand-drive versions again for all models, starting with a revival of the Delta in 2008, Automotive News Europe reported.

Fiat Auto’s Lancia brand is considering offering right-hand-drive versions again for all models, starting with a revival of the Delta in 2008, Automotive News Europe reported.

Lancia’s current line-up with steering wheels only on the left side keeps it out of markets such as the UK, Ireland, Japan and Australia.

That decision was part of an emergency cost-cutting plan some years ago – around the same time sister Fiat Auto brand Alfa Romeo decided to leave the US market.

“We are currently working to add right-hand-drive versions of the next Lancias, as the investment required is reasonable, about EUR5-6 million,” Fiat Group and Fiat Auto CEO Sergio Marchionne said in an interview with Automotive News Europe.

Resuming production of right-hand-drive models would mean a Lancia shift from a defensive position that prompted speculation the Italian brand would be killed off.

Lancia is considering not only a return to abandoned markets, but also entering new right-hand-drive markets such as India and Thailand.

Fiat Group is studying a broad alliance with Indian automaker Tata Group to expand its automotive activities there.

The third-generation Delta is a 4450mm-long hatchback, partly inspired by the Granturismo StilNovo concept car.

Fiat Auto calls the vehicle a “future C-D segment” model – positioned between the lower-medium and upper-medium segments. It is based on an extensively modified Fiat Stilo second-generation platform. The Fiat version is due in early 2007.

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