MILAN Italian carmaker Fiat FIA.MI plans to produce five new Fiat-brand models in the next two years as it seeks to return to profitability in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, the company said on Wednesday.
A spokesman for the company confirmed an interview in daily Corriere della Serra where Alfredo Altavilla, the group's head of the EMEA region, said the new vehicles would include four models of the 500 family and one new version of its Panda type.
"We are redesigning the DNA of the Fiat brand with a clear strategic objective to position it in the premium segment of the market," Altavilla told the paper.
"To do this, we are focusing on two of our car families which have had the greatest success: the 500 and the Panda."
Altavilla said the plan was part of the company's objective to return to profitability in the EMEA region in 2015.
The paper gave no indication where the five new models would be manufactured, but said the new Panda would have more off-road type characteristics to be able to compete with large sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
Altavilla also said Fiat would within a few weeks finalise an important collaboration in Russia, but did not give any details.
Recovery in the European car sector is expected to be long and slow as unemployment remains high and bank lending weak.
At a major car show earlier this month, European carmakers warned the industry still needed to close more factories and cut more jobs to staunch losses at some manufacturers and ease price pressures on all.
(Reporting by Jennifer Clark Writing by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Mark Potter)