Fiat chairman says ‘difficult’ to stay in Italy
TURIN, Italy (AFP) – Italian auto giant Fiat’s bosses said on Wednesday they had made “difficult choices” to continue producing in Italy despite a fall in sales but would not be shutting any plants as feared earlier.
“Despite market troubles, we have made difficult choices to continue producing in Italy,” Fiat chairman John Elkann said at the opening of a new plant for the company’s luxury brand Maserati.
Chief executive Sergio Marchionne, who also heads Fiat’s US partner Chrysler, said: “I can confirm that we will not shut any plants in Italy”.
The company had warned last year that it could be forced to shut one of its five factories in Italy.
But Marchionne cautioned about the outlook for sales in Europe, as the company prepared to unveil its fourth-quarter results later on Wednesday.
“The European car market may not have hit bottom,” Marchionne said at the same event on the outskirts of Fiat’s hometown of Turin in northern Italy.
Fiat’s results will be closely watched for signs of a turnaround in the company’s fortunes in Europe.
“The results are in line with expectations. The company is doing well,” Marchionne said.
The company’s third-quarter profits were double what they were in the same period in 2011 but that was almost entirely due to results from Chrysler and luxury sales in booming markets like China.