In sweeping changes set to be unveiled next month, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne will announce production of the Fiat Panda to move to Poland – where the little 500 is also built – whilst also confirming the axe has fallen for the Fiat Punto and Alfa Romeo MiTo, with an historic plant in Turin and another near Naples are set to be retooled to produce new Maserati and Jeep SUV’s according to insiders.
The changes are part of Marchionne’s last strategy blueprint aimed at shifting western European production to premium cars, boosting the sale of Jeeps worldwide and moving the carmaker from diesel to hybrid electric cars. Marchionne, 65, is set to retire as CEO next year, doesn’t see a future in making affordable cars in high-wage European countries. Amid a transition over the next decade in the way vehicles are powered, driven and purchased, he has said this “portion of the auto industry risks being commoditized.”
The changes in Italian production would see production stop later this year of its longstanding Punto model in the southern factory of Melfi with the Alfa Romeo Mito also halted at the main Turin plant, known as Mirafiori, where a second Maserati SUV is likely to be added as an addition to the Levante model already coming off its assembly lines.
The Fiat brand is likely set to shrink further to just the 500 and Panda models in Europe with other budget cars to be discontinued, an insider was quoted as saying. Whilst the focus on FCA’s premium brands will see electric hybrid vehicles within two years.
A final decision about the plan for Italy hasn’t been made and some details could still change before the presentation next month.