Fiat Group will soon start modifying production lines at its Mirafiori site in Italy, union sources told Reuters, suggesting that the carmaker is making good on its pledge to safeguard car production in its home turf. Both politicians and unions are keeping watch on developments at Mirafiori as speculations persist over possible delays to Fiat’s promised EUR1 billion ($1.36 billion) investment in the site.
The carmaker is expected to produce a new Maserati Levante SUV at the Mirafiori site to help turn around its European operations. "We expect work on the production lines to start imminently," said the sources from two unions representing Fiat workers. They also added that Fiat had already made some renovations to buildings, including supply warehouses. According to Fiat, investments at Mirafiori were proceeding.
The Maserati Levante is expected to be launched in 2015 as part of Fiat's plan to increase the brand's sales to 50,000 in 2015, from just over 6,000 cars in 2012. Fiat is expected to build another new model at Mirafiori, which could be an Alfa Romeo, union sources disclosed to Reuters.
Fiat might be left behind by rivals like Volkswagen Group and Renault if it cannot offer new models in Europe, which is expected to recover sooner. Fiat has said that it would disclose a new industrial plan and detailed investment programs at the end of April 2014.
Fiat recently struck a deal to acquire the rest of Chrysler Group it currently does not own. Unions and politicians have remarked that they are hoping the Chrysler deal will channel investment into underutilized Italian sites, which work only at 41 percent of capacity.