Fiat Chrysler Automotive is putting behind its failed bid to merge with Renault with an uplifting announcement for the future.
The Italian-American carmaker said it plans to invest €700 million ($788 million) in the all-new, all-electric Fiat 500. That’s FCA’s biggest single bet on an electric vehicle to date.
FCA’s COO for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) region, Pietro Gorlier, announced the investment at the Mirafiori plant in Turin, Italy which turns 80 this year. “The plan is confirmed,” Gorlier told the media when asked if FCA remained committed to investing in electric vehicle technology after the plan to merge with EV specialist Renault collapsed.
Gorlier said the investment would go towards building a new production line at Mirafiori capable of manufacturing 80,000 units of the new 500 BEV annually, with the potential to expand capacity later. The upcoming electric 500 will be Fiat’s first EV to be marketed in Europe as the unsuccessful 500e was exclusive to the United States.
The executive said production would start in the second quarter of 2020. According to FCA’s plans, around 1,200 people will be dedicated to the production of the Fiat 500 BEV but the electric city car might not be the only EV made in Mirafiori.
“This car was entirely conceived, designed and engineered here. It is a genuine product of ‘Made at Fiat’ and ‘Made in Turin’ ingenuity. It is another excellent example of the ability to create and innovate which abounds in our company and in this city,” Gorlier said.
“The new Fiat 500 electric represents just the first phase of our investment plan for Mirafiori. This project will be followed by the renewal of the Maserati range, starting with the Levante, and the addition of other models as projected in our business plan,” he added.
The 500 BEV, which Gorlier says will adopt cutting-edge solutions, is part of a much broader investment plan FCA has for Italy over the 2019-2021 period. The carmaker pledged to invest a total of €5 billion ($5.63 billion) to renew its product range by introducing 13 all-new or significantly refreshed models “and a comprehensive offering of electric vehicles, including 12 electrified versions of new or existing models.”
The upcoming Fiat 500 BEV’s all-new electric powertrain will likely feature a swappable and upgradeable battery pack, as demonstrated on the Fiat Centoventi concept.