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FAW Car Co, part of Changchun-based China FAW Group Corp and China’s second largest car maker by volume, has applied to take over Fiat’s Termini Imerese plant in Sicily, La Repubblica reported without naming its sources.

Termini Imerese is Fiat’s smallest plant in Italy and employs about 1,700 full-time workers. Fiat announced in December that it planned to close the factory in 2011, sparking a wave of protests from trade unions and even the Catholic church with Pope Benedict XVI calling on Fiat to keep the plant open.

Fiat has said it loses EUR1,000 on every vehicle produced there.

La Repubblica said that FAW plans to ship auto parts to Sicily for assembly. It will use Italy-made engines and transmission systems and export the finished vehicles to China and Europe, the report said.

Annual production capacity will be 80,000 vehicles at the initial stage, and will be 200,000 units in the future, according to the newspaper.

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By GlobalData