The installation of a state-of-the-art Comau robot today at one of the largest and most historic automotive plants in the world represented a link between past and future, with an event that celebrated the Mirafiori plant’s 80th anniversary and beginning of construction of the assembly line for the new Fiat 500 BEV. This new generation of vehicles continues the long tradition of innovative models (more than 35 in total) that have rolled off the assembly lines at Mirafiori. Among these is the first Fiat 500 which began production in 1957.
With local and regional officials and institutions present – including Mayor of Turin, Chiara Appendino, President of Piedmont, Alberto Cirio, and Turin Prefect, Claudio Palomba – Pietro Gorlier, FCA COO for the EMEA Region said, “Mirafiori has been transformed in step with the city of Turin. It shared the successes and the difficult times, but it has always found a way to get back up on its feet. And it is one of the oldest European automotive factories still in operation today.” Since it was opened 80 years ago, Mirafiori has produced more than 28,700,000 vehicles.
Today, around 20,000 people work at the Turin production complex (Mirafiori and Grugliasco) including those directly involved in manufacturing as well as related activities such as engineering, design, sales, financial services and parts and accessories. Mirafiori is the largest FCA production hub in the world. FCA’s activities in the Region of Piedmont also include an additional 4,000 employees and some 40,000 people who work for suppliers.
Today’s celebrations marked the opening of a new chapter for Mirafiori. The platform being installed at the plant is specific to electric cars and its first application will be the Fiat 500 BEV. Today, the first robot was installed and the rest of the plant will be retooled over the coming months. In the body shop alone, there will be a total of 200 robots enabling a fully-automated welding process. Production of the first pre-production models is scheduled to begin by year-end. Around 1,200 people will be dedicated to production of the Fiat 500 BEV and the new assembly line will have an annual capacity of 80,000 units, with the potential for expansion.
Total investment for the project, including design, development, engineering and construction of the assembly line is around €700 million. Production is set to begin during the second quarter of 2020.
“This car was entirely conceived, designed and engineered here. It is a genuine product of ‘Made at Fiat’ and ‘Made in Turin’ ingenuity. It is another excellent example of the ability to create and innovate which abounds in our company and in this city. In Turin, we are developing a new electric mobility center of excellence which currently employs 260 people. The new Fiat 500 electric represents just the first phase of our investment plan for Mirafiori,” said Gorlier. “This project will be followed by renewal of the Maserati range, starting with the Levante, and the addition of other models as projected in our business plan.”
In recent weeks, FCA has set up an e-Mobility unit in EMEA which will be responsible for coordinating all activities related to electrification. FCA has also recently signed agreements with Enel X and Engie which will enable it to offer solutions to simplify the lives of customers buying and using an electrified vehicle of any of the Group’s brands.
In Italy, the Group has plans to install more than 900 charging stations at production sites and employee parking areas, around 1,200 at Leasys Mobility Stores and more than 1,100 at dealerships. Total investment for this project is around €33 million. In addition, FCA is evaluating projects based on the innovative Vehicle-to-Grid technology, which enables vehicles to return electricity to the grid when needed during peak demand and switch back to charging when demand returns to normal. This would benefit customers while at the same time reducing energy production.
The 500 BEV project is part of FCA’s much broader investment plan for Italy over the 2019-2021 period. In fact, the Group will invest a total of €5 billion to support a substantial renewal of its product range with the introduction of 13 all-new or significantly refreshed models and a comprehensive offering of electric vehicles, including 12 electrified versions of new or existing models. “Despite the challenging macro-economic climate, and consequent weak market conditions, we have confirmed our investment plan and today’s ceremony is a concrete sign that our projects are advancing at speed,” said Gorlier.
During the event, the COO also mentioned a number of other recent highlights including presentation of new plug-in hybrid versions of the Jeep Renegade and Jeep Compass at the Geneva Motor Show and the world premiere of the electric Ducato (the first electric vehicle produced by FCA in Europe), which took place in Turin a couple of weeks ago. He also referred to activities underway at other Group sites in Italy including the former Rivalta plant, another important site in Piedmont, which is set to become a Mopar global parts distribution center serving Europe, the Middle East, Africa and other global markets; the Verrone plant, which already produces transmissions for a wide range of models, and is set to increase production of transmissions for the Ducato; the Pratola Serra plant which will begin production of a new engine for the Ducato at at the end of 2020; and the Cento plant which, just over one month ago, began production of a new generation of V6 engines, all to be exported and fitted on Ram vehicles sold in North America.
“All of the cars that have rolled off the assembly line at Mirafiori were ground-breaking for their time, because they always had something innovative and unique. Whether it was their style, dimensions, engine, the materials used or the concept around which they were developed. Today, our idea of innovation has not changed. The new Fiat 500 BEV will adopt cutting-edge solutions in a very different industrial and marketing context from just a few years ago. Once again, it is set to become a milestone in the history of FCA and mobility,” said Gorlier.