MILAN -- Unions at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Italian factories expect domestic production to continue to decline this year after double-digit drop last year, largely because of slumping sales at Alfa Romeo and Maserati.
FCA's production in Italy fell 10 percent to 667,526 units in 2018, according to the FIM-CISL Italian trade union. The decline came after sales of Alfa Romeo and Maserati models dropped in Europe and the U.S., especially in the second half.
Production at the FCA's Italian plants will fall further in 2019 for various reasons, said Ferdinando Uliano, head of FIM-CISL Automotive. He cited the economic situation in Italy, the lack of new models and the discontinuation in the summer of the Fiat Punto and Alfa Romeo Mito small hatchbacks, which combined accounted for 38,000 units produced in 2018.
Production of the Maserati Levante midsize SUV, Alfa Romeo Giulia midsize sedan and Alfa's Stelvio midsize SUV fell most in 2018, the union said.
SUV and LCVs bright spots
Output of all FCA models expect the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X small SUVs fell last year. The union broke out 2018 production by plant as follows:
Mirafiori: Levante production down 44 percent to 19,100; Alfa Mito down to less than 10,000 from nearly 11,000.
Cassino: Giulia down 41 percent to 28,546; Stelvio production down 28 percent to 39,782.
Pomigliano: Fiat Panda down 10 percent to 183,589.
Melfi: Fiat Punto down 47 percent to 28,055; Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade SUVs up 14 percent to 113,712 and 12 percent to 198,098 respectively.
Sevel (joint venture with PSA): production up 1.7 percent to 297,000.
FCA will partially lay off workers at the Mirafiori and Pomigliano plants during 2019; the partial temporary layoffs at Pomigliano will run until September 10th 2019, according to unions.
Alfa Romeo's global vehicle sales increased by 8.7 percent to 125,000 last year, according to estimates from market researcher JATO Dynamics. Maserati's volume fell 21 percent to 38,000, JATO said.
A 5 billion-euro investment in FCA's Italian plants through 2021 was announced by the automaker in November. FCA wants to boost production by adding new electrified models such as a full-electric Fiat 500 at Mirafiori, an Alfa Romeo compact SUV at Pomigliano, a Maserati midsize SUV at Cassino and Jeep Compass production for European customers in Melfi.
FCA CEO Mike Manley warned in Detroit that FCA is reviewing the investment plan after the government approved subsidies of up to 6,000 euros to buyers of new low-emission vehicles while introducing taxes on the larger gasoline and diesel cars. "It certainly means it needs to be reviewed again" Manley told journalists on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show on Monday.