Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne has hinted that government targets to boost Italian production to 900,000 vehicles a year were achievable but reiterated he still wanted to end output at a Sicily plant.

Marchionne, speaking to Reuters after a first meeting with industry minister Claudio Scajola on Tuesday (1 December 2009), said the figure was "not astronomical".

But he added that the company's plans for Italian factories, which evisage an end to car output at its Termini Imerese plant in Sicily by 2011, would not change.

Scajola said Italian car output "must be increased sharply", and noted that France, Germany and Spain all produce more vehicles than their country's demand, while Italy produces only 30% of its domestic sales.

Though Fiat does not give output details for its plants, union leaders on Monday put the figure at about 600,000 a year, Reuters reported. It said Italian newspaper La Repubblica had implied current output was around 660,000.

Fiat's plans may include shifting some production from the company's overstretched Polish plant [which builds the Panda plus both the Fiat 500 and Ford Ka on a shared platform] to Italy, which could be as many as 270,000 Panda cars per year, which could be enough to meet Scajola's target.

Fiat, which now owns 20% of Chrysler, first announced its plans for Italian plants in June and will now hammer out the details with the government ahead of presenting them to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on 21 December, the report added.

The news agency noted that, like many other European governments, Italy has subsidised car sales this year with tax breaks to buy smaller, less polluting cars - a Fiat strength - but the incentives are due to end on 31 December. Although Marchionne has said it is up to the government to decide whether to continue them, he would like to see them end gradually rather than a sudden halt which could trigger sharp falls in sales.

Scajola said on Tuesday car sales were up 30% in November.

A source told Reuters on Monday car sales in November were around 180,000, up about 30% from 138,352 units a year ago.