Stellantis will halt production at the company’s Melfi Assembly Plant in Italy, from April 2nd to 12th according to the Unione Italiana Lavoratori Metalmeccanici (UILM) or the Italian Union of Metalworkers in a statement on Monday. Melfi is the production home of the Jeep® Renegade and Fiat 500X (for the European and North American markets) as well as the Jeep Compass (for the European market).
The plant has been repeatedly disrupted due to the semiconductor shortage that the automotive industry is currently facing and low global demand due to the ongoing pandemic. According to reports, there is talk about permanently closing one of the plant’s two assembly lines to help address the problem. Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares reduced vehicle operations to just one line at plants manufacturing less than 250,000 vehicles annually at Peugeot S.A. (PSA). We predict the same method will be used for the newly formed Stellantis.
Melfi is currently the only plant producing the electrified Jeep Renegade and Compass 4xe models for the European market.
The Jeep Renegade 4xe and Jeep Compass 4xe powertrain integrate two electric motors and an 11.4 kWh battery pack, with a fuel-efficient 1.3-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. This architecture provides two cars in one – a battery-electric vehicle featuring an electric motor and a high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack on the rear axle and a conventional vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE) fitted on the front axle. Two electric motors, one of which is located on the front axle and coupled to the ICE that, in addition to working in synergy with the engine, can act as a high-voltage generator, as it is necessary. The second motor is located on the rear axle and features reduction gear and integrated differential (also known as the “e-axle”). It delivers 60 horsepower and 250 Nm (or about 184 ft.-lb) of torque, generating traction and recovering energy while braking.
Sources are also indicating that Melfi is scheduled to be producing mild-hybrid electric vehicle (mHEV) variants of the Renegade and Compass later this year. Whether a shutdown of one of the vehicle lines at the plant would affect the plan to produce the Jeep mHEV variants has not yet been discussed.
As for the Fiat 500X, for those living in the North American marketplace, the 500X is the only vehicle in the FIAT brand’s portfolio in 2021, as all other vehicles have been axed after last year. Only 1,444 Fiat 500X were sold in the United States during the 2020 model year, which is the fourth consecutive year sales have declined. For those living in Canada, only 35 units were sold during 2020, so it doesn’t seem that a shutdown will affect the North American market too much.
Currently, the Melfi Assembly Plant employees more than 7,000 workers.