Fiat was founded in 1899 in Turin, Italy, where it has remained – in one form or another – for more than a century. But now, CEO Sergio Marchionne may look to kill off mass-market vehicle production in the country altogether. On June 1, Marchionne will reportedly introduce a new measure that moves most Fiat production out of Italy.
According to Bloomberg, Fiat’s longstanding Turin plant – which was inaugurated in 1939 – will see the most significant changes. The facility, which currently produces less than 50,000 vehicles per year, will be retooled to accommodate a new Maserati SUV alongside the Levante, and a handful of new Jeep products. The pint-sized Panda will move production from Melfi to Poland, and the MiTo will be halted with its production future yet to be determined.
At Fiat’s second manufacturing plant in Pomigliano, a new small Jeep SUV will boot out Fiat, with production scheduled to begin in just a few months. That vehicle is said to slot underneath the current Renegade, and could come powered by a hybrid powertrain. With the ongoing expansion of Jeep, the 500 and Panda could be the only two models left in Fiat’s European range.
"When I look at the economics, and I look at return on invested time – forget about invested capital – return on invested time and the effort that’s required to make Europe reasonably profitable, one would have to wonder why one is doing it, because it is fraught with difficulty, it is an incredibly complex jigsaw puzzle," said Marchionne in a conference call with the publication.
In March, while Jeep saw a 42 percent increase in European sales, Fiat dropped by 12 percent. The large decrease by the Italian automaker caused FCA as a whole to post negative sales.