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Stellantis to introduce Italy-made hybrid versions of Fiat 500 EV, Jeep Compass

FILE PHOTO: Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares inaugurates the group's new electrified dual-clutch transmission (eDCT) assembly facility in the Mirafiori complex in Turin

By Giulio Piovaccari

MILAN (Reuters) -Fiat owner Stellantis said on Monday it would build a hybrid version of its 500e small electric car at its Mirafiori plant in Turin, Italy, amid a slowdown in electric car sales.

The announcement came after Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares met in Turin with union representatives who had long been asking the company to boost production at Fiat's historic home with a new high-volume, cheaper model.

The factory currently produces the 500e model, but a global slowdown in sales of fully electric vehicles has pushed Stellantis to significantly slow production rates, introducing protracted furlough periods for the plant's workers.

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"Carlos Tavares recalled the importance of offering affordable and high-quality cars for Italian customers," Stellantis said in a statement. It added that developing affordable cars also depended on external factors including lower energy costs, the development of a charging network for electric vehicles, and long-term subsidies for auto purchases.

The move might help the automaker improve its relations with the Italian government, which has often criticised the group for its falling output in the country and for making some of its Fiat and Alfa Romeo models abroad.

Stellantis - Italy's only major automaker - and the Rome government are in talks over a plan aimed at restoring the group's production in the country to 1 million vehicles by the end of this decade from around 750,000 last year.

"The shared ambition with the Italian government to reach one million vehicles produced in Italy by 2030, will need a supportive business environment, currently impacted by electrification uncertainties and strong competition with new entrants to the market," the automaker said.

FIM-Cisl union leader Ferdinando Uliano, who attended the meeting with Tavares, said Stellantis told him and others that production of the hybrid 500e would start in the first quarter of 2026 but did not give details about targeted output figures.

Automotive News Europe, which first reported the hybrid 500 production earlier on Monday, said Stellantis was aiming for total annual output of 200,000 500s, including 125,000 hybrids, compared with fewer than 80,000 last year.

The Franco-Italian carmaker also said it would build a hybrid version of the Jeep Compass SUV at the Melfi plant in southern Italy, and that production of the hybrid Fiat Panda city car made in Pomigliano near Naples could be extended.

FIM Cisl's Uliano said the current Panda model, first introduced in 2011, could continue being made until 2029, depending on developments in European Union rules.

(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Mark Potter, Alvise Armellini and Hugh Lawson)