By on September 4, 2019

Last year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced a €5 billion plan to set the table for more palatable electric vehicles — including hybrids — and boost capacity utilization at its Italian facilities. Roughly one fifth of that total will go toward the launch of a compact crossover from Alfa Romeo and Fiat’s upcoming Panda hybrid.

Numerous Italian trade unions (AQCF, FIM, FISMIC, UGLM, and UILM), after speaking with the manufacturer, have confirmed the Pomigliano plant will undergo some retooling in preparation for the new models. Meanwhile, FCA confirmed the cost to Reuters — stipulating that the total investment for the two models would be “closer to 1 billion than 500 million euros.” 

That’s about $1.1 billion USD on top of the nearly $800 million the company already set aside for the new Fiat 500 electric slated for assembly at the company’s Mirafiori facility. FCA has previously been seen as a laggard in terms of electrification, but these investments should help change that perception in Europe. However, that new image might not carry over into the United States.

Chances of the next Fiat 500 making it to our shores aren’t great, as the current model is both extremely unpopular and doomed. FCA went from posting 43,772 U.S. deliveries in 2012 to just 5,370 in 2018. Fiat also recently confirmed that the model will vacate the American market at the end of this year, with no word on whether it will be replaced.

Meanwhile, the Panda is almost guaranteed to stay in Europe. It’s not a model the U.S. has any special affinity for and the design doesn’t really suit American tastes. While there could be room for a Centoventi-inspired city vehicle in select markets, Americans are more likely to see hybrid versions of the Jeep Compass and Renegade. The latter models are presumed to go on sale early in 2020.

Despite Alfa Romeo having an extremely weak grasp on the U.S. market, it’s technically outselling Fiat as of last year. That bodes well for its upcoming compact crossover. Based on the Tonale concept that debuted in March, the model will be significantly smaller than the Stelvio while retaining some of its premium inclusions and general style. It’s the most likely candidate for export by far.

While FCA has confirmed that a small premium SUV will be manufactured alongside the Panda hybrid, it did not explicitly say the model would be the Alfa Romeo Tonale. Regardless, production of the new Panda is expected to commence early next year at Pomigliano. The Tonale should follow up at the start of 2021.

[Image: FCA]

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11 Comments on “FCA Earmarks $1.1 Billion for Alfa Crossover, Hybrid Panda...”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I think that the Fiat Panda Cross 4×4 would sell well in North America. It caters to multiple demographics/types.

  • avatar

    When the last of the local FCA dealerships burned me on service— turning the simple 20k-mile tire rotation into a “these are bald, not covered by warranty and the DOT will not allow us to rotate them for you” up-sell event— after I had FCA arrange the appointment because I knew the game and needed a negotiator…

    FCA gifted me a couple tire services at the local Maserati/Alfa store by my suggestion.

    My logic: a 4×4 Compass is more Alfa than it is a Jeep/RAM/LX-car, and Alfa/Maserati techs will know to protect off-white seats rather than to use them as clean-up towels.

    Burke CJDR in Birmingham even stained the headliner. Grr.

    • 0 avatar

      Go to Martin Tire, Discount Tire, Meineke or Big O Tire (or similar in your location), to get your tires rotated for FREE, even if you didn’t buy them there, and without all the drama of a sales pitch.

      I steer MY business towards Discount Tire because they have been excellent for sales AND service.

  • avatar

    Oops! I forgot to add:

    Price the little Alfa between the Compass and Cherokee— sized like a Renegade. Give it a premium engine and interior like the Compass.

    I’m all-in.

  • avatar

    What is that God-awful..THING..pictured?!

    Opiate addiction must be a thing among automotive designers of late!

  • avatar

    Don’t forget earlier rumors of a Jeep coming that was to be smaller than the Renegade. This sounds a bit like it might be based on the Alfa mentioned above.

    Then again, it might end up being a version of the newer Panda platform.

    • 0 avatar

      Then again, it might end up being a version of the newer Panda platform.

      I expect the rumored “mini Jeep” to be the replacement for the Panda Cross, because FCA seems to think they can automatically get more gross margin on a vehicle by sticking a Jeep badge on it.

  • avatar

    Italian brands are doomed to leave our market again, aren’t they.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Dear Fiat: It’ll be hard to recoup that $1.1 billion investment if you discount every vehicle 35% off MSRP, like the stuff languishing in your US showrooms today.

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