Remember all that hype about how a Detroit-area Jeep plant would be building the Maserati Levante SUV, for export back to Italy? Yeah, me either.
Nearly a year after announcing plans for the Levante to be built at Chrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant, union scuttlebutt suggests that Fiat’s Mirafiori plant outside Turin to build Maserati and Alfa Romeo products.
According to Automotive News Europe, the Mirafiori plant, one of Fiat’s flagship plants, is currently operating for only a handful of days out of each month. Fiat is ostensibly hoping to use its idle capacity in Europe to help produce the Levante and other premium cars, while Jeep’s own plants in the United States crank out as many cars as possible to help satisfy domestic demand.
Even so, this would represent a stunning about-face for Marchionne and Chrysler/Fiat. The American-built Levante was highly touted as an example of what American manufacturing was capable of, as well as a symbol of transcontinental cooperation following the union of the two companies. But with union pressure in Italy heating up against a backdrop of tumbling sales and constantly idled plants, the decision to build the Maser SUV in Italy may have come easy to Marchionne, even at the expense of a PR blowout in the United States.