(Updates with spokeswoman)
KRAGUJEVAC, Serbia, July 4 (Reuters) - The Serbian unit of Italian automaker Fiat plans to produce between 110,000 and 140,000 of its new 500L family of compact cars this year, the plant’s chief executive said on Thursday, trimming his top-end estimate.
Exports from the Fiat plant in the central city of Kragujevac are a key driver of economic growth in the Balkan country, which emerged from recession in the first quarter of this year.
“The only forecast I can make is to decrease the top end of anticipated sales to 110,000-140,000 because sales to the Russian market have not started yet,” Antonio Ferara told reporters. “If the Russian market will continue to delay, we’ll have to change the forecast more,” he said.
In mid-March, Ferara told a business forum in Serbia that the plant expected to produce between 110,000 and 180,000 units. .
Later on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the plant said the last forecast by end-March had been 110-000-150,000 units.
The 1 billion euro ($1.3 billion) joint venture, sealed by Serbia and Fiat in 2008, is 67 percent owned by Fiat and 33 percent by the Serbian state.
Serbia has a free-trade agreement with Russia but it excludes cars. Belgrade has been pushing to have cars included so it can export its Fiat models to Russia under the more favourable terms. ($1 = 0.7709 euros) (Reporting by Valerie Hopkins; Editing by Matt Robinson)