Lancia has once again delayed its new top-of-the-range Thesis. Sales are not expected to begin until March 2002.
The Thesis, which will replace the K in Lancia's lineup, was first shown at the Geneva auto show in March.
At that time, Lancia parent Fiat Auto said the new flagship would go on sale this autumn.
But in Frankfurt, Fiat said pre-sale activity would begin in November, with the first deliveries taking place four months later.
This is the latest in a series of Thesis setbacks. Code-named project 841, Lancia originally planned to launch the new car in late 2000.
Lancia said the Thesis had been delayed until March to reach 'optimum quality standards.'
There is also confusion about sales targets for the Thesis. Speaking at Frankfurt, Fiat Auto Managing Director Roberto Testore said he would be happy with an initial sales level of 20,000-25,000 units a year. But Juan Jose Diaz Ruiz, executive vice president for marketing and sales, was more ambitious. He said he wanted to achieve sales of 35,000-38,000 units.
Lancia continued to release details of the Thesis' technical specifications.
At launch, the Thesis will be available with Alfa Romeo's long-serving 3.0-liter V-6 in 215hp form and Fiat's five-cylinder, 2.4-liter with 170hp.
Also available will be a five-cylinder, 2.4-liter common-rail turbodiesel with 150hp.
More engine variations will follow.
On the technical side, the Thesis will offer several world firsts, including a handbrake that automatically engages and disengages when stopping in heavy traffic or at traffic lights and solar cells in the sunroof that trigger interior fans to keep the interior cool when the engine is switched off.
The Thesis will also feature the Skyhook semi-active damping control system, made by Mannesmann-Sachs and due to debut on the new Maserati Spyder. Other innovations include Delphi's Easy Go keyless entry system and Bosch's Adaptive Cruise Control, both of which will debut on the new Fiat Stilo.
With the Thesis, Lancia will return to 'tailor-made cars,' said Diaz Ruiz. After placing their order, Thesis customers will be able to track production of their new car in a 'virtual factory' accessible through a special Web site.
Diaz Ruiz also previewed Lancia Home Service, a new customer service operation. New cars will be delivered direct to customers. When the cars are due for servicing or repair, they will be collected and returned by Lancia. Courtesy vehicles will be available while the cars are off the road.