Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Stellantis offers two more models for Italy to defuse row

Stellantis offers two more models for Italy to defuse row
Italy’s financial police seized dozens of Fiat Topolinos which they said carried the national flag despite being assembled in Morocco. The spat forced Stellantis to rename a new Alfa Romeo sport utility vehicle that’s manufactured in Poland.

Stellantis NV proposed building two more hybrid vehicles in Italy, part of its efforts to appease local politicians as the Fiat maker eyes moving some production to lower-cost countries.

The manufacturer intends to assemble hybrid versions of a Jeep model at the Melfi site in southern Italy and of the Fiat 500 at the Mirafiori plant in Turin, Stellantis said in a statement late on Monday, confirming an earlier report by Bloomberg News. The new models will help protect production in case of a prolonged electric-vehicle downturn, people familiar with the situation said.

CEO Carlos Tavares presented the proposal at a meeting with local unions on Monday in Turin. The move would help Stellantis reach a target of 1 million vehicles in the country by 2030, from around 750,000 last year, even as EV demand is slowing.

Stellantis keeps on working internally to lower costs but “external” factors in Italy “remain to be addressed, such as energy cost, charging network for BEV and market support tools, as well as activities to encourage conversion and retraining,” the company said in a statement.

Tavares has been overhauling Stellantis’s industrial footprint — including with stringent cost cuts — at a time when governments in Europe are trying to safeguard manufacturing jobs put at risk by the shift to EVs.

The carmaker’s plans in Italy will depend on the level of support the company gets from the government and unions, the people said earlier on Monday. Talks on domestic car production between Stellantis, the Italian government and local unions will continue after Monday’s meetings, they said.

Stellantis will start building the hybrid Fiat 500 in Mirafiori only in 2026, which means two years left of uncertainty for the plant, Samuele Lodi, secretary general of the Fiom-Cgil union, told reporters after the meeting. Still, there are “some positives,” including Stellantis’s pledge to ensure better working conditions for its employees, including cleanliness of toilets inside the plants, he said.

Read More: Stellantis Protest Over Unsanitary Conditions Slows Alfa Output

Stellantis also wants to start “a process of generational renewal of the workforce,” hiring young workers mainly in Mirafiori, the company said in the statement.

The announcement marks the latest effort by Tavares to appease Giorgia Meloni’s government after weeks of tensions.

Earlier this month, Italy’s financial police seized dozens of Fiat Topolinos which they said carried the national flag despite being assembled in Morocco. The spat also forced Stellantis to rename a new Alfa Romeo sport utility vehicle that’s manufactured in Poland.

At an event on Monday in Turin presenting the new Lancia Ypsilon hatchback, Tavares defended the company’s commitment to the country.

“When we created Stellantis in January 2021, Lancia was about to disappear, there was no product plan,” Tavares said. “We gave Lancia a new future.”

While the Ypsilon will be assembled in Spain, it was designed, engineered and tested in northern Italy, Tavares said, adding that “in terms of intangible assets, this is a pure Italian product.”

That may not be enough for the government and unions, which have been clamouring for more models to be built locally. 

Read More: China’s $10,000 EV Will Undercut Europe’s Biggest Carmakers

Thousands of Italians joined striking workers near the carmaker’s base in Turin last month in anticipation of a new round of job reductions. The government in Rome, meanwhile, has been holding talks with carmakers including Tesla Inc., China’s BYD Co. and Dongfeng Motor Group Co., about producing in the country.

The Ypsilon marks the rebirth of Lancia, brand CEO Luca Napolitano said at the same event. Two more Lancia models will follow in 2026 and 2028.

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