The premise: selling cars right now is an exercise in acrobats. Greater propensity to save due to the lack of confidence in the economic recovery. Distance measures that heavily affect the distribution network of dealers full of unsold stock. In the meantime, the transition to electricity is moving forward, which, however, still suffers prices for the final consumer that are not exactly mass-market and a worrying shortage of batteries. The outcome inevitably also affects the new electric 500, presented to the press in March 2020 before the pandemic exploded around the world. The Fim Cisl data on the Mirafiori plant where it is produced tell us that it has dropped from 300 to 210 cars per day. And production is being concentrated in a single shift from double up to full capacity due to the shortage of raw material, that is the batteries, which Stellantis imports from South Korea.
Despite this, we are witnessing the first quarter of 2021 to a 30% increase in production for Stellantis (due to the merger between FCA and PSA) compared to the same quarter of the previous year. But it is an addictive figure since March 2020 when Covid imposed the blockade of the factories to readjust to the health regulations that the pandemic brought with it. In the first three months, however, there is a greater use of layoffs in all the Italian plants of the group, with the exception of that of Sevel in Atessa which produces commercial vehicles which, on the other hand, is running at full capacity. There is an unexpected shortage of semiconductors which at the moment, however, has not impacted too much on the former FCA plants except for 4 days of stoppage in Melfi for the absence of microprocessors, the brains of the cars on which the software to make smoother driving. However, Ferdinando Uliano of Fim Cisl reports the resumption of the use of social safety nets, lastly the impact on Melfi which is using Cassa Covid, and the data obviously worries the confederates who will now meet the leaders of Stellantis on April 15 for a first information on group strategies pending the next industrial plan of the fourth automotive group in the world. Fortunately, the investments of the last plan, of FCA derivation, of 5.5 billion on Italy are going to completion but some questions remain.
This is unexpected, due to the shortage of batteries for electric cars despite the announcements, for now written in the sand, of a new gigafactory in Italy with 4 thousand Italvolt employees. Actually, a project still nebulous, so much so that there is still no commercial contract stipulated with the car manufacturers, much less with Stellantis. The Cassino node remains, which travels at an all-time low of its production capacity, i.e. at 15%, which has lost 900 employees out of the 4,300 of the plant due to retirement and early retirement measures, due to the Giulietta production stoppage and waiting for Maserati’s new Grecale SUV which, however, will not go into production before October 2021. Investments continue to adapt the lines for the new Alfa Romeo Tonale at the Pomigliano plant, while production of the Maserati Mc20 should also start at the Modena plant. add two new Maserati Gran Turismo and Gran Cabrio to the Mirafiori plant even before the summer holidays given the progress of the pre-series.
Of course, registrations are down by 23% in February 2021 and this has affected the production of cars and also for the production expected in 2021 of Maserati models, they would still be 60% lower than in 2017. Production around 20 thousand, 60% below the threshold of that year, which seems a was geological ago. The unions, however, also express strong concern for the Melfi plant which has so far driven production thanks to the Jeep also destined for the North American market. Uliano says that “at the beginning of 2021 we expected the start of the third shift for hybrid engines which would have allowed the total re-absorption of 1500 employees going to run out of shock absorbers inside the site”. And now a hypothesis is emerging, not confirmed by the company but in the feasibility study according to which everything could be concentrated in Melfi on a single single production line of the 500X, the Jeep Renegade and the Compass. we would like the top management to be thinking about a structural reduction of the production capacity of Melfi ». We will see.