Fiat SpA is banking on its new Ottimo compact hatchback to hike production at its underused site in Changsha, China. Fiat will start producing the for-China-only Ottimo along with its sister model through GAC Fiat Automobiles Co., its joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Starting in 2014, the Ottimo will be built alongside its sister model in the central China city of Changsha by GAC Fiat Automobiles Co., the Italian automaker's joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co.
The GAC Fiat site can produce up to 140,000 vehicles annually, but the actual output remains low as its only model, the Viaggio, sells only 3,000 units a month. GAC Fiat, however sees the output at its Changsha plant to rise to 70,000 units in Changsha -- 40,000 Viaggios and 30,000 Ottimos, industry sources in Turin told Automotive News Europe. Fiat will unveil the Ottimo at an auto show in Guangzhou. It is derived from the Viaggio compact sedan.
Fiat needs to increase its sales numbers in China to offset losses in Europe, where its 10-month sales dropped 8 percent to 632,952 vehicles, according to industry association ACEA. To be able to fully utilize the plant’s output capacity, GAC Fiat wants to add production of the new Jeep Cherokee, but such move needs consent from Chinese government.
Jeep chief executive Mike Manley told Automotive News Europe earlier this year that such approval could come by the end of 2013 for output to commence in 2015. Established in 2010, GAC Fiat commenced production of the Viaggio this year. It is the first car that Fiat produced in China since 2007, when the Italian carmaker terminated an eight-year alliance with Nanjing Automobile Group.