Oops! Lancia’s new electric car makes a splashy debut

The upcoming Lancia Ypsilon has made a splash, quite literally, as the electric hatchback was revealed undisguised… having plunged into a French river.

According to L’est Republicain, it’s not known how the incident unfolded however investigations are continuing into the Rue du Port, Montbéliard crash. The news outlet reports the vehicle may have been stolen.

The vehicle was reportedly found completely submerged in the river, around 7km from Stellantis’ Sochaux plant, around 7:30am local time on Tuesday morning.

Firefighters and rescue divers were called to the scene to ensure no passengers were trapped or left inside the vehicle and reportedly nobody was found.

A tow company was then called to the scene where the electric prototype was yanked out of the river with a crane. Up until this point the vehicle had only been spied with heavy camouflage but bared all during its rescue.

The incident has therefore given us our best look at the light hatch ahead of an expected February 2024 debut.

French photographer Lionel Vadam was nearby at the time of the incident and snapped photos of the vehicle which show its crossover-like body, black wheel arch cladding, and distinctive tail lights with Y-shaped internal elements.

The Ypsilon is set to share its platform with the likes of the Peugeot e-208 and reports indicate it’ll use a single front-mounted electric motor with 115kW of power and a 51kWh battery pack, good for around 400km of range.

Previous reports have also indicated there will be a mild-hybrid petrol powertrain available, at least until Lancia goes EV-only by 2028.

The new Ypsilon will launch with the Edizione Limitata Cassina, a collaboration with luxury Italian furniture and interior design company Cassina.

Only 1906 units of the limited edition Ypsilon will be released, which is a nod to the brand’s founding year and a celebration of its 117 years of manufacturing.

Previewed in the recent Pu+Ra HPE concept and set to debut in the Ypsilon is Lancia’s mysterious “SALA” interior technology – an acronym for Sound Air Light Augmented, but also an Italian word for a living room or hall.

The “smart virtual interface” combines audio, climate control and lighting functions with different modes.

Lancia’s second EV will be an unnamed flagship, which has previously been reported to launch in 2026 and be “on the end of the crossover segment”, according to Lancia CEO Luca Napolitano in April this year.

The third EV is confirmed to be a new Delta, which has been previously reported to launch in 2028 and will be “muscular, geometric and tough”.

It’s unclear if a sporty HF variant will be part of the range. Despite the rally success of the first-generation Delta, subsequent generations of Lancia’s small car went without hardcore variants like the HF Integrale as, under Fiat, Lancia was repositioned as a purveyor of plusher vehicles.

Stellantis is positioning Lancia as one of its trio of ‘Premium’ brands, alongside Alfa Romeo and DS, and the brand will re-enter markets in Western Europe it exited several years ago.

Lancia’s ten-year expansion plan involves opening 100 dealerships in 60 European cities, but it plans to sell 50 per cent of its cars online.

Mr Napolitano said Lancia’s 10-year plan at present doesn’t involve expanding outside of Europe, but hasn’t ruled out the possibility of expansion to right-hand drive markets.

He also told Reuters in December 2021, “However, in the coming year, if things go well, why not try to bring (Lancia models with) right-hand drive also in Japan, South Africa or Australia?”

It has been a long time since the Lancia brand was seen on Australian shores. Its last appearance was with the Beta family in the mid-1980s.

There were mooted plans to bring the first-generation Delta here, along with larger fare like Thema, but these never eventuated. That’s despite said models being made available across the pond in New Zealand.

It withdrew from all markets bar Italy in 2017 after an influx of new products – many of which were rebadged Chryslers in a failed attempt to “twin” the two brands – struggled in the marketplace.

The current Ypsilon is the last remaining Lancia, and remains the second best-selling vehicle in Italy despite dating all the way back to 2011.

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