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Cars sold as an ‘Italian jewel’ must be made in Italy, PM tells Stellantis

2024 01 24T161532Z 1 LYNXMPEK0N0M5 RTROPTP 4 ITALY POLITICS STELLANTIS - Global Banking | Finance

Cars sold as an ‘Italian jewel’ must be made in Italy, PM tells Stellantis

ROME (Reuters) – A car being sold as an “Italian jewel” needs to be made in Italy, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said, telling lawmakers that Fiat’s parent company Stellantis has sometimes made choices which were against the country’s interests.

Asked about her plans to safeguard production at Stellantis plants in Italy during a Q&A session in parliament, Meloni said it was a priority to defend jobs and production.

“We want to go back to producing at least one million vehicles a year in Italy. If you want to sell a car…. advertising it as an Italian jewel, that car must be made in Italy,” she said.

Meloni said Franco-Italian group Stellantis, the country’s sole major automaker, was more focused on France than on Italy in its industrial choices, but her government wanted a good relationship with them.

“We want to defend the national interest, establish a balanced relationship with Stellantis,” Meloni said.

Stellantis, whose brands include Fiat and Alfa Romeo, produced around 750,000 vehicles in Italy last year, including vans.

The group has been in talks with the government since last summer over a long-term plan for the industry, and is seeking support measures, including cheaper energy costs and electric vehicle sales incentives, to boost production in Italy.

Yet, the relationship between Rome and the Agnelli family, the single largest shareholder of Stellantis though its holding company Exor, been strained since Meloni’s right-wing administration took office in late 2022.

Stellantis wasn’t immediately available for comment on Meloni’s remarks.

Earlier this week, Meloni took aim at left-leaning daily la Repubblica, controlled by the Agnelli family, which accused her of selling off Italy’s main assets, such as stakes in oil and gas company Eni, as part of her privatisation plan.

During a TV show, she accused la Repubblica of hypocrisy, saying they had sold Fiat to the French and moved the company’s headquarters away from Italy to the Netherlands.

On Tuesday, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said Italy’s penny-pinching approach to purchase incentives has meant several months of reduced automotive production in the country.

Exor has always declined to comment on Meloni’s criticism.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante and Giuseppe Fonte; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

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