Fiat-Chrysler will postpone the launch of a new Jeep compact SUV intended for production in Italy. Production will now start in the second quarter of 2014. The B-SUV, which is the codename of the new Jeep, had been due to begin production in Fiat's Mirafiori plant in Turin in 2013. The B-SUV will be sold in the Europe and United States, among other markets. It will be smaller than the Jeep Patriot and Compass. In December 2013, a sister model for Fiat will commence production at the factory, replacing the Fiat Sedici currently manufactured by Suzuki in Hungary.
Fiat requires new models like the replacement Sedici in order to offset declining sales. In 2011, sales of the Sedici in Europe fell 10% to 14,800 units based on the data from Jato Dynamics market researchers. On Wednesday, Fiat stated that it will postpone a 1 billion-euro expansion of the Mirafiori plant's capacity until late 2013. This is a year later than the original plan. The expansion will allow the facility to assemble 280,000 compact crossovers annually.
The delay comes after Fiat has made a spending review of future investments. The automaker anticipates total market sales this year in Europe will drop to a range of 12.9 million and 13.4 million from 13.6 million in 2011. In its main Italian market, Fiat anticipates sales to drop to a range of 1.65 and 1.70 million units, which is below the 20-year low of 1.75 million units sold last year. In addition, Fiat stated that the Mirafiori factory will still assemble the Alfa Romeo MiTo subcompact model, including a revamped variant to due in 2013. The automaker will extend Mirafiori production of the Lancia Musa small minivan, which was originally planned to halt production at the end of last year. [source: Autonews]