December 13, 2012 / 5:32 PM / 5 years ago

Fiat to unveil plans to make new Jeep and Fiat SUVs in Italy

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian automaker Fiat FIA.MI will unveil long-awaited plans next week to build two small sports utility vehicles (SUVs) in Italy, the company said on Thursday.

The announcement to be made by Chairman John Elkann and Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne marks the end of the company’s investment freeze in its home market, where demand has dropped to levels not seen since the 1970s.

Fiat’s mass-market brands are losing money in Europe and the company is profitable thanks only to revenue from its Chrysler division in the United States.

Fiat pledged in October to cut losses in Europe by increasing spending from 2013 to 2015, shifting the focus to its higher-margin brands Maserati and Alfa Romeo.

The new plan calls for three new models to be built in Italy next year and six new models in 2014.

The two new small SUVs are expected to be a Fiat and a Jeep, union sources told Reuters on October 31, and will be built at Fiat’s Melfi plant.

Fiat first announced that it would build a Jeep SUV in Italy in October 2011 and had slated it for production in the second half of 2013.

Reporting by Jennifer Clark; Editing by David Goodman

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