Baby Jeep to join Renegade in FCA's plan for new Italian-built models

And Alfa Romeo to get a bigger SUV

FCA is boosting its European production, introducing new models that will be built in currently under-utilized manufacturing facilities. Among the new models is a new small Jeep, smaller than the current Renegade, as Automotive News reports.

FCA's Mike Manley mentioned the entry-level Jeep model earlier this year, also saying that the vehicle is targeted to European and possibly Latin American customers; in the summer, Autocar placed the launch date in 2022. The new "baby" Jeep would be made in the same factory in Pomigliano, Italy, as the small Fiat Panda, which is a top seller in Italy. The current generation Panda was introduced in 2011; if it gets a replacement in 2022, it could possibly share a platform with the Jeep model — or, the Jeep could be an eventual outright replacement for the Panda. One of Fiat's earlier core products, the Punto hatchback, was canned in August, and that production capacity will be used to make the Jeep Compass instead, at the Renegade-producing Melfi factory in southern Italy. The Compass has not previously been built in Europe.

The Fiat model portfolio would be shrunk to just the 500 model family and the Panda — the 500 would also be FCA's key electric vehicle offered in Europe. It is not yet clear whether the electric 500 would be made in Turin, Italy, or in Poland; Turin might also get a Giardiniera-badged wagon version of the refreshed 500.

As for the Alfa Romeo brand, it is set to gain an even bigger SUV model than the Stelvio, based on the Maserati Levante's platform. The Levante's sales have suffered recently in China, but Maserati does have light in the horizon: The Alfieri 2+2 grand tourer is still in the cards, with a launch expected for 2020 and both a convertible and an electrified version planned to follow. The Alfieri would be made in Modena, Italy, according to Automotive News' sources.

None of these plans namedrop the storied Lancia brand, which has been shrunk to just the Ypsilon hatchback, based on the same platform as the current 500 and Panda. Despite that, the Ypsilon was again the second-bestselling car in Italy after the Panda in October. It is unlikely that FCA will be able to ignore this, but it is just as unlikely that any development money will be afforded to come up with a replacement for the Ypsilon, which is as similarly old as the Panda. Perhaps official announcements expected on Thursday will also clarify what will happen to Lancia.

FCA's new European boss, Pietro Gorlier, is said to meet with Italian union leaders on Thursday to discuss production plans. Until then, FCA wasn't commenting.

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