TURIN - Lancia's Nea is a high-tech concept car that previews a possible production model in the lower-medium segment.
Lancia discontinued its lower-medium Delta in spring 1999 and so far there are no plans for a successor. But that could change if the Nea is well received in Paris and at later auto shows.
The Nea is based on the same platform as the next-generation Fiat Bravo/Brava due in mid-2001. The three-door, one-box car is 4100mm long.
As well as previewing future Lancia styling ideas, the Nea showcases on-board communications and computer technology. It includes Internet and wireless application protocol (WAP) connections, voice control and information and entertainment systems.
The navigation system uses general packet radio service (GPRS) technology. It does not require digitalized maps on CD-ROM because it downloads the required map in real time. The map is combined with traffic information to select the best route.
Using MP3 technology, drivers can also download music from the Internet. MP3 is a computer file that stores music.
A combination of seven radar scanners and nine video cameras creates a sophisticated crash avoidance system.
The central computer takes control of vehicle dynamics in dangerous situations.
The Nea was styled at Lancia's styling center, led by American design director Mike Robinson. Robinson designed the Dialogos concept car that previews the 2001 Lancia K successor.
Although Fiat Auto says there are no plans to replace the Delta, reaction to the Nea will be carefully monitored in Paris.
The concept car is not a running prototype, but its technological devices are fully functional.
A second Nea, equipped with a running powertrain, is under development.
The running prototype will be shown at the Intelligent Transportation Systems trade show in Turin in late November.