FIAT reveals investment plans for Italy

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FIAT reveals investment plans for Italy

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With 500s flying put of the factories FIAT is sexy again, and now its boss says, after buying Chrysler and going global, it is time for FIAT Italy to get a dose of the Marchionne medicine.

Sergio Marchionne, who also runs Chrysler, intends to spend eight billion euros in technological upgrades and research in Italy in the next two years, and is aiming to make FIAT a million-vehicle producer there, up from today’s 650,000 vehicles a year.

This all sounds great but the boss is known to be big on cutting production costs. He says the number of cars made per worker in Italy is out of proportion with Brazilian or Polish competitors, and “doesn’t correspond with industrial logic.”

To many in the unions, this sounds like code for job cuts on the way.

“Termini Imerese can’t go on after 2011. We’ve told the government we’re ready to look into anything to find a solution but it’s clear that by 2011 no cars will come out of Termini Imerese,” insisted Marchionne.

While the bosses unveiled their radical plan, outside workers protested: FIAT’s only factory in Sicily was announced for closure in June.

“How can you convert a site that’s been building cars for 40 years? You couldn’t even use it for tourism,” said one protestor.

So much for promises to build more cars, and what else to do with the mammoth site?
Marchionne has also warned his plans will need government support and worker flexibility. One factory in Brazil produces more cars than FIAT’s entire Italian workforce, he added, with less than half the workers.