Italians start comeback
Lancia Pu+Ra HPE – electric and with long ranges
By Patrick Broich, Milan
04/18/2023, 10:05 am
Lancia has had a niche existence in Europe for years and is only available in Italy. This should soon be over, Lancia is coming back to the entire European market. As a vanguard, the Italians send an exciting study. The new Ypsilon will be the first production model next year.
Traveling to Milan is actually not a big deal, the city in Lombardy is easy to reach even from western Germany. The Stellantis Group often uses the metropolis for activities and presentations. But this time the visit becomes an emotional affair. Because with the compact shooting brake concept Lancia Pu+Ra HPE, the brand is giving the starting signal for its large-scale comeback.
In May 2017, Lancia models ended in Germany and the rest of Europe for the time being – except for Italy. Incidentally, the now aging Ypsilon still rolls off the assembly line here and is still very popular. So far, Lancia has been selling around 40,000 of the small car every year.
But Lancia used to be a proud manufacturer of prestigious and technically innovative travel and sports cars, just think of models like the Aurelia, Flaminia or Flavia. And in this direction, brand boss Luca Napolitano would like to develop the label again, which should be underpinned with the concept. The namesake was the practical and at the same time sporty beta offshoot HPE – the abbreviation stood for “High Performance Estate”.
Can we really expect a direct successor in beta HPE style at some point? Of course, Lancia chief designer Jean-Pierre Ploué does not reveal that, but the probability is rather low. What he reveals is that the years 2024 and 2025 will be marked by the new Ypsilon.
Around 25 Lancia dealers initially in Germany
The refurbished small car is to be delivered again in Germany from the second quarter of next year via around 25 dealers. A year later, a particularly high-performance HF version of the city car follows. A new sales concept should ensure a good mood in the trade, which of course also knows that Lancia will not be able to shoot large quantities. The Stellantis importer acts as an agency and supports the dealers, for example with demonstration vehicles – at least there are no excessive costs for sales.
Orders are placed directly with Stellantis and the customer can choose on the Internet which company should deliver and carry out the inspection later. Electrified combustion variants and a purely electric version will be available. It’s obvious that the DS3 Sportback and Peugeot 208, for example, are also small group cars with exactly these configuration options.
It will be even more exciting from the year 2026, when the family-friendly Lancia member with the historical name Gamma will appear. However, an SUV is not up for debate, Ploué promises. Lancia is based on the history of the brand, he explains. And after all, Lancia doesn’t have any historic SUVs. Two years later, i.e. for 2028, the delta is planned. How exactly these creations will look like cannot of course be elicited from the speakers here today. However, it is emphasized that they will all carry elements of the Pu+Ra HPE study.
With the somewhat cryptic naming, Lancia wants to convey the message that the HPE is pure and radical. I find it rather futuristic though. A look at the rear with the round taillights brings back memories of the legendary Lancia Stratos, while the Lancia lettering on the front simply refers to the brand. Inside, the reinterpretation of the HPE looks pretty plush.
Up to 350 kW charging power and a range of 700 kilometers
After all, the luxury furniture manufacturer “Cassina” had a say in the salon-like interior. A first touch actually shows that the study is quite comfortable: lush upholstery in combination with advanced infotainment (the focus is on simple operation and significantly improved voice control) should create the level of comfort that potential customers expect from a luxurious vehicle. Huge glass surfaces including a panoramic roof bathe the interior in lots of light. And what’s more, the architecture exudes a typical Italian style.
So that this can be enjoyed without regret, Lancia declares sustainability to be an important pillar. Up to 70 percent of the interior surfaces in the future production models are to be made of environmentally friendly materials. Of course, comfort is also a big issue, and this is where things could get exciting. Because it requires certain technical skills in the context of battery electric vehicles. If long distances are to be fun with the future Lancia offers, then the charging performance has to be right. The newly developed, medium-sized “STLA” platform will serve as the substructure for the future Gamma (located somewhere in the middle class), whose battery and charging specifications are certainly impressive.
Stellantis chief technician Ned Curic promises a range of up to 700 kilometers – no wonder with the target battery sizes of 87 to 104 kWh. that fits. Even more impressive is that the 800-volt architecture will allow charging powers of up to 350 kW. For the period from 2028, Curic even expects solid-state batteries to be in series production. These should then gradually find their way into the existing model range. With the model preview, Lancia gives an outlook on the next ten years.
One can remain curious as to whether the quantities will be sufficient to create a long-term economic business case for the 106-year-old traditional brand. In any case, the chances for this have increased in the Stellantis network. In any case, enthusiasts can look forward to the fact that Lancia will soon be enriching the European car landscape again.