ROME Oct 16 Italian carmaker Fiat
Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne will announce a new,
scaled-back investment plan for Italy on Oct. 30, along with
third-quarter results and new financial targets, union leaders
said on Tuesday.
The combined Fiat-Chrysler group, which now makes more than
two thirds of its profits in the United States, has put on hold
a five-year, 16 billion euros ($21 billion) investment plan for
Italy dating from 2010.
"The industrial plan is being changed to take into account
the different market conditions," said Fim-Cisl leader Giuseppe
Farina after meeting Marchionne.
The changes "will guarantee investment in new models and
continued production" in Fiat plants.
Fiat had no comment, and Marchionne left the meeting without
talking to reporters.
In 2010, Fiat promised the investments in return for greater
labour flexibility. New labour contracts are now in place at its
plants, but Fiat has meanwhile shifted some production to lower
cost countries and postponed investments in Italy, where car
sales have slumped to their lowest levels in 40 years.
That stalled investment plan has sparked fears that Fiat
could close plans or cut staff in Italy, where it is the biggest
private industrial group and employs more than 20,000 people.
Marchionne has said he will not waste money by making
investments during a five-year European market slump, and last
month predicted Fiat would lose 700 million euros in Europe in
Marchionne was meeting with unions on Tuesday to update them
on the company's investment plans, reiterating that he did not
intend to close any of Fiat's five factories.
The carmaker recently postponed the launch of its new Punto
compact until 2015. Production at its Melfi factory, where Fiat
makes the Punto, will shut down from October 17 to November 9.
Last month, a Fiat source had said the carmaker's board
would not discuss an industrial plan on Oct.30. On Tuesday,
however, unions said the company would instead provide some
details about how it intended to move forward with its
investments in Italy.
"Marchionne told unions that Fiat is working on a new
industrial plan for Italy based on the current economic outlook,
and that it will be presented October 30," said Roberto di
Maulo, secretary general of Fismic labour union, after a meeting
with the executive.
At Mirafiori, its flagship plant in its hometown of Turin,
Fiat plans to start making a small Fiat-branded sports utility
vehicle (SUV) at the end of 2013 and a small Jeep SUV in the
second quarter of 2014. Work on installing the production lines
has not begun and the company has not given a date for when the
lines could be installed.
An announcement on Oct. 30 that the Mirafiori investment is
going forward would help dampen criticism over Fiat's decision
to delay the launches of new models until the economy improves.