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February 17, 2011

ITALY: De Tomaso to build new models in Fiat’s Sicily plant

One of the successful bidders for part of Fiat's Sicilian Termini Imerese plant is aiming for initial production of between 35,000 and 40,000 vehicles per year and a doubling of its existing workforce.

One of the successful bidders for part of Fiat’s Sicilian Termini Imerese plant is aiming for initial production of between 35,000 and 40,000 vehicles per year and a doubling of its existing workforce.

De Tomaso, the luxury automaker owned by Gianmario Rossignolo, received the green light yesterday (16 February) from the Italian and Sicilian governments, along with EV producer Cimino, to start work following Fiat’s exit from Termini Imerese at the end of this year.

However, the detail of the agreement will now have to be thrashed out with a meeting expected tomorrow or next week between De Tomaso and the Sicilian government to “define every step” and to allocate part of the EUR450m (US$610m) for all seven parties involved in the site takeover.

“De Tomaso is ready,” a source in Italy told just-auto, noting it needed nonetheless to revamp the facility due to Fiat’s and its own differing technologies.

“There are a lot of things to be decided – it is not certain but there is a good probability,” the source added. “The seven firms have to sit down with the Sicilian government to define every step.”

De Tomaso envisages building a new city car and mini-SUV on the Termini Imerese site and is looking to retain 1,500 people currently working there. This would more than double its existing staff of 1,100 employees.

A production start date remained hazy as the final details of the move have yet to be finalised and, as the source pointed, out: “To realise a car from zero needs [around] one-and-a-half years.”

Any retention of workers on the scale that De Tomaso has suggested would undoubtedly be welcomed by Fiat unions although FIOM said this week it was “suspending judgement” on any deal while it evaluated the agreement’s small print.

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