Today at the Fiat plant in Melfi, Chairman John Elkann and CEO Sergio Marchionne – with Prime Minister Monti in attendance – presented plans for the production of a new Jeep brand vehicle and a new Fiat brand vehicle beginning in 2014.
Following an investment program of more than €1 billion, Melfi will be one of the most advanced car assembly plants in the world, equipped with the very latest technologies and managed according to World Class Manufacturing standards. Activities to prepare the plant for production of the two new models have already begun.
Those activities include modifications to existing production processes to accommodate the new modular Small Wide platform – one of Fiat-Chrysler’s three principal architectures – which can be easily adapted to produce even larger vehicles. The platform is configured for product content that complies with U.S. regulatory standards, meaning that vehicles produced at the Melfi plant will be export ready, with no requirement for further modifications.
The first of the two new models will be a Jeep utility vehicle that represents the brand’s entrance into a new market segment. Melfi will be the only plant in the world to produce this model and, as for all Jeep products, it will be sold in markets worldwide.
In addition to the new Jeep, Melfi will also produce the new Fiat 500X, the latest addition to the 500 family which is larger, more spacious and more capable than the 500L launched three months ago.
Once the plant upgrades are complete, Melfi will have increased flexibility with the ability to produce up to four different models on the same assembly line.
The planned investments will also include technological upgrades in all areas of the plant, including a new metrologically-equipped stamping shop, new panel and body welding lines, 500 new welding robots and introduction of the latest technologies in the paint shop. The assembly area will also benefit from major upgrades with completely new equipment that will enhance work station ergonomics and logistics flows.
Total production capacity based on three shifts will be 1,600 vehicles per day.