Interview Date: January 4, 2013
Professional Profile: Paolo Gagliardo, after an MBA at Columbia Business School in New York, has built great part of its career in the Automotive industry. He has worked in Ford Motor Company and FIAT in various Marketing, Sales and Product assignments in the UK, US and Italy. He has also worked in the Italian Railroad Company, as Chief Marketing Officer and Piaggio S.p.A. as Executive Vice President Product.
In 2010 he has rejoined Fiat Group Automobiles as COO for International Operations and now he is Head of Brand Lancia/Chrysler for EMEA.
The products in the Lancia range – the Thema and Flavia in particular – seem to be carbon copies of non-European models; to this, add the decision to abandon the Lancia brand. Today, can a Lancia salesperson be successful in proposing this type of product, taking on the European competition?
First of all, I would like to point out that Lancia is now more alive than ever before. Over the last fifteen months, we have launched a new range of products in significant European segments, from the Ypsilon to the Flavia in June. And the results, despite the highly challenging economic context, are generally positive, both in Italy and across Europe.
What the CEO of the Fiat-Chrysler Group announced is that we will continue to invest in the Ypsilon in Europe. The other products for the European market will be developed together with Chrysler. This is because, where economically sustainable, they feature the characteristic traits of the brand: comfort, technology and innovation, suitably adapted to the style and performance levels of Lancia and to the European standards.
Crisis, unemployment, automotive costs continually on the rise; so why should Italians buy a Lancia, especially if the residual value plummets dramatically with the disposal of the brand? Have you got an exit strategy?
As I highlighted before, the Company never mentioned disposing of the brand, so talking about an “exit strategy” is irrelevant and the residual value will follow the encouraging trend that we have seen over recent years on our models.
The Ypsilon is extremely successful, especially in Italy, where this year it has become the second name plate in segment B, after the Fiat Punto. On the other models, Lancia’s intervention on the market is not to develop high volumes but rather positive trends, with a distinguished, premium positioning, which is what our cars deserve. Even in a competitive market such as Germany and also across Europe, we have registered increases (from 60 to 300% depending on the model/market) and we will develop this trend further, and constantly, thanks also to the new models.
This commercial success is a sign of encouragement as regards the reasons which push the Clientèle to purchase one of our cars. Lancia’s style is unmistakable, preferring not to flaunt itself but instead putting the emphasis on temperament. It is a distinctively strong, layered mark that others can only envy: a refined combination of comfort and performance, an understated and unpretentious elegance. I believe that Lancia’s winning strength, which has always kept it in the basket of desirable purchases (even at the toughest times), is its ability to accommodate the needs of a market which, while repudiating “mass” consumption in favour of a modern concept of “personalised” consumption, nonetheless demands an extensive and varied range, focused on needs and, increasingly, eco-friendliness. Just think of the engine versions, for instance: Lancia is the only automotive Brand capable of offering a range with a choice of displacements ranging from the Ypsilon’s two-cylinder 0.9 l TwinAir to the 3.6 l V6 Pentastar on the Thema and Voyager. A truly respectable range!
Lancia was also the first to combine the concept of elegance with lower running costs, creating the Ecochic range. The exclusive dual fuel range, consisting of the Musa, Ypsilon and Delta petrol/LPG, has just been supplemented with the new Ypsilon Ecochic Methane: a full tank of methane costs just under 12 euros!
Mr. Manetti talked to us about the Test performed on the Lancia by Leasys. Can you give us your feedback after the first few months of testing? What is the situation in terms of EMEA, what developments should we expect to see, and what direction are you moving in?
After demonstrating with the LPG Ecochic range that respecting the environment and reducing fuel consumption is not only possible but chic as well, we are now taking on another challenge at Lancia, presenting “Easy Chic”, a new way of experiencing mobility, which allows you to enjoy full driving satisfaction at the wheel of a Lancia, without additional concerns. At a small monthly fee, this innovative all-inclusive long-term leasing by Lancia (and developed with Leasys) allows private customers to dispense with the worries of tax discs, third-party insurance, routine and extraordinary servicing, roadside assistance and managing the final second-hand car.
Lancia “Easy Chic” is the ideal solution for those who don’t wish to give up their right to mobility despite the uncertain economic climate, during which the rise in the cost of running a vehicle and the increased cost of insurance policies (according to Adusbef and Federconsumatori, over the last 11 years, the cost of third-party insurance alone has risen by 104%) have weakened the purchasing power of families. What’s more, a study by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport calculated that servicing and repair, third-party insurance and car tax make up more than 44% of the cost of running a car.
Other car manufacturers offer similar programmes, but Lancia is the only brand to make this offer available on the entire Lancia range – whatever the model, trim level and engine version. We will draw up an initial balance sheet at the beginning of 2013, but we believe we have injected new life and renovation in a market that needs new and “reassuring” ideas in the eyes of the Customer.
Another interesting initiative that I would like to mention is called “Thema&More”: Lancia recently presented two new formulas – one for purchasing and the other for leasing – dedicated to the Lancia Thema, which include three years of free use of a Lancia Ypsilon 1.2 Gold, an original and flexible solution, dedicated to both private customers as well as corporate managers or owners of Small and Medium sized Enterprises.