June 3, 2020 / 5:00 PM / a month ago

Fiat delays resumption of Panda production due to weak demand - union

FILE PHOTO: Employees of Fiat SpA work on a new "Panda" car at the Fiat plant in Pomigliano D'Arco, near Naples, in this December 14, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

MILAN (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler (FCHA.MI) will postpone a planned production restart of its Panda small car at its plant in Pomigliano, near Naples in southern Italy, due to poor market demand, a union representative said on Wednesday.

Fiat Chrysler (FCA) has informed unions that due to the ongoing automotive market crisis triggered by the coronavirus outbreak it had not yet decided when it would restart Panda production, said Gianluca Ficco of UILM union.

He added that the company wanted to avoid restarting production, initially scheduled for June 8, and then stopping it again.

“It chose to wait for feedback on sales at the beginning of June to decide when the right time is,” Ficco said.

FCA declined to comment.

New car registrations in Italy fell for a fifth straight month in May, when Rome started to progressively lift lockdown measures, with nationwide registrations down 49.61% and FCA’s down 57.2%.

“We confirm our request to the government for measures to support the automotive market and production in the country,” Ficco said.

FCA has already restarted regular production of vans and of Jeep’s Renegade and Compass models in Italy, as well as preparatory works for the new Fiat electric 500 small car.

The FIOM union said separately on Wednesday that FCA had extended the period of furlough benefits for its workers in Turin facilities citing “the need to adjust production flows to the temporary market situation and the consequent business contraction”.

Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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