Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will manufacture the restyled versions of the Fiat 500 and Lancia Ypsilon city cars in its Polish plant, according to Automotive News. Citing two people familiar with the automaker’s plans, the publication reported that the aforementioned models will be made in the company’s production plant in Tychy.
The Tychy factory already produces the current versions of the Fiat 500 and Lancia Ypsilon. It also builds another minicar—the Ka from Ford Motor Co. The facility builds the latter under an agreement with the Dearborn automaker.
The restyling of the city cars will reportedly keep output in the Tychy plant stable, as the agreement with Ford will come to an end soon. The capacity of the refreshed variants will replace that which will be lost once the current Ka made in Poland goes out of production. One of the sources said that the factory’s deal with Ford is expected to end by March or May 2016.
The restyling is also a necessary move for Fiat Chrysler, as both the 500 and the Lancia Ypsilon are both getting long in the tooth. A major revamp is long overdue, especially for the 500, since the current model is almost eight years old. While Fiat has made changes to its flagship model over the last couple of years, it has yet to undertake a complete overhaul. By refreshing the aging models, Fiat Chrysler would be able to increase sales.
The Tychy plant was the automaker’s best performing manufacturing facility in Europe until the company decided to shift production of the Fiat Panda to Italy four years ago. The move forced the Polish factory to let go of hundreds of workers. While the plant has since recovered, it has yet to reach the peak capacity it reached in 2009. At present, the facility’s annual output is 300,000 units, half of what it used to make.
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has yet to reveal his plans for the Tychy plant. While he did acknowledge that Poland is an asset, he is currently prioritizing increased production in Italy. Marchionne aims to raise capacity at a number of underutilized factories in Fiat’s home country to support Fiat Chrysler brands intended for the global market, such as Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Maserati. However, one of Automotive News’ sources disclosed that Fiat will not leave the Polish plant operating below capacity for long.
Last year, a Fiat executive mentioned to unions at the Tychy factory that there will be important news to be revealed this year. Unfortunately, no other details were offered.
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