Fiat will build Punto replacement in Poland

The Punto, shown, will be replaced by a car built in Poland instead of Italy. The replacement could be called the 500 Plus.
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TURIN -- Fiat will invest 2.36 billion zlotys ($784 million) to upgrade its factory in Tychy, Poland, to build the replacement for the Punto subcompact, a report said.

The five-door Punto replacement will launch in 2016. It will be a longer and wider version of the 500 three-door minicar that is built in Tychy and could be named the 500 Plus, sources told Automotive News Europe. Fiat plans to build 180,000 units a year of the Punto replacement, the sources said.

Fiat badly needs a successor for the aging Punto, the brand's entry in Europe's largest segment by unit sales. Fiat sold 103,822 Puntos in Europe last year, down 22 percent from the year before, according to JATO Dynamics. The Ford Fiesta led the segment with 2013 sales of 292,640.

The planned investment in Tychy will include upgrading production lines, as well as new technology purchases, according to a report today in the Polish newspaper Puls Biznesu.

Fiat will hire 420 new employees on top of the current 3,000 in Poland. Some 96 percent of the production will be exported including to North America, Puls Biznesu said.

The Punto is currently built in Melfi, central Italy. Fiat is moving production to Poland to provide capacity at Mefli for the Jeep Renagade. Production of Jeep's smallest SUV starts next month alongside its sister model, the Fiat 500X, which goes into production in September.

The Punto replacement will be based on a longer version of Fiat Chrysler's small architecture used by the 3840mm-long Lancia Ypsilon subcompact. It will slot between the 3545mm three-door 500 hatchback and the 4150mm 500L small minivan.

Officials at Fiat's Italian headquarters had no comment.

Reuters contributed to this report

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.

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