Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne is preparing to unveil a sweeping transformation of production in Italy that will see the company stop making the Fiat Punto and Alfa Romeo MiTo small cars in favor of upscale models, according to people familiar with the plan.
A historic plant in Turin and another near Naples will be retooled to produce new Maserati and Jeep SUVs, while Panda output will be moved to Poland, said the people, who asked not to be named because the project isn't public.
The plan is scheduled to be revealed on June 1.
The changes at its Italian roots would complete a historic shift for the company founded in 1899 that grew to become a symbol of the country's postwar industrial boom, mainly by producing cars -- such as the subcompact Fiat 500 -- that ordinary consumers could afford.
The refocus is part of Marchionne's last strategy blueprint aimed at shifting western European production to premium cars, boosting the sale of Jeeps worldwide and moving the automaker from diesel to hybrid electric cars, the people said.
A final decision about the plan for Italy hasn't been made and some details could still change before the presentation next month, they said. FCA officials declined to comment.
Marchionne, 65, who is set to retire as CEO next year, doesn't see a future in making affordable cars in high-wage European countries, said people familiar with the automaker's strategy.
Amid a transition over the next decade in the way vehicles are powered, driven and purchased, he has said this "portion of the auto industry risks being commoditized."
The changes in Italian production would see FCA stop output later this year of its Punto small car in the southern factory of Melfi, the people said.
The Alfa Romeo MiTo entry premium car would be halted at the FCA's main Turin plant, known as Mirafiori, where a second Maserati SUV would likely be added as an addition to the Levante model already coming off its assembly lines.