Self-concious auto shoppers looking for a cheap, Italian-made vehicle need look no further than Jeep; Fiat announced plans for a $1.3 billion investment in an Italian plant to build a subcompact crossover for Fiat and Jeep.
The new Jeep model will share a platform with the forthcoming Fiat 500X crossover (above), which is slightly larger than the minivan-like 500L that debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show. With Fiat stuck with so much excess capacity, plants in Italy, Poland, Serbia and Turkey are being marshaled for export duty, and the baby Jeep should help add volume to the underutilized plant in deep South of Italy.
Melfi has also been home to notoriously poor relations between workers and management over the years. The South of Italy is often viewed by its residents as a neglected region of Italy, and investment in the plant will likely be seen as a gesture of goodwill in light of sniping that Fiat has focused too much on its Chrysler acquisition in recent years.