Italian carmaker Fiat inaugurated its new €1 billion (US$1.31 billion) car production facility in Kragujevac, Serbia, on Monday. More than 150 guests including Mirko Cvetkovic, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, attended the ceremony.
Speaking to the guests, Fiat Group CEO Sergio Marchionne highlighted the country’s modernization program, which he said has created “a dynamic environment that is attractive to foreign investors. It is a great privilege for Fiat to be able to participate in the country’s future growth”.
The first model to roll out of the Serbian plant is Fiat’s new 500L small MPV, which broke cover at the Geneva Motor Show this March. The five-seater model will be exported to markets in Europe and around the world with commercial launch planned for the last quarter of 2012. Sales in North America are expected to start next year.
Fiat said that by the end of 2012, some 2,400 people will be employed directly at the site while a further 1,000 with suppliers located at a nearby area. According to the Italians, once fully operational, the Serbian plant will have an annual production capacity of up to 200,000 cars.
Apart from the five-seater variant, Fiat is planning to expand the 500L’s range with a longer 7-seater model and an all-wheel drive crossover, possibly named 500X.