Posted Apr 19th 2012 9:31AM
Several years ago, we were surprised to discover that the Yugo was still being made. Sometimes dubbed the worst car in history, Serbian automaker Zastava continued producing the Yugo through 2008 when the last one rolled off the assembly line in Kragujevac after a twenty-year production run. That was only months after Fiat inked a deal to buy the company and its assets, including the factory.
Now almost four years later, Fiat has finished upgrading the Cold War-era assembly plant into what it now calls its most advanced factory yet. Inaugurated just the other day by Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne and Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, the former Zastava plant has undergone a billion-euro (about CAD$1.3 billion) renovation, including new production shops, machinery, infrastructure, landscaping and roof over a 1.4 million square metre site.
By the end of the year, the plant will employ a workforce of some 2,400. Their first task will be production of the new 500L mini-minivan (pictured above), which is scheduled to begin delivery (at a rate of as many as 200,000 units each year) from the former Yugoslavian country to markets across Europe and around the world later this year.
Hit the jump for full details.
Related GalleryFiat 500L
Opening ceremony in Serbia for Fiat's most advanced car plant
Mirko Cvetkovic, Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, together with Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat SpA, today inaugurated the new Fiat car production facility in Kragujevac.
More than 150 guests from the political and business arenas attended the ceremony together with workers.
In welcoming the Prime Minister, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne paid tribute to Serbia's significant program of modernization which has created "a dynamic environment that is attractive to foreign investors. It is a great privilege for Fiat to be able to participate in the country's future growth".
This opening represents the conclusion of three years of extensive and comprehensive work at the 1.4 million square meter site, which included improvements to the surrounding infrastructure, new roofing for the plant, new production shops, land remediation and the installation of world class machinery and production systems. A total of approximately €1 billion has been invested at the site.
The Kragujevac plant will produce the new Fiat 500L, which had its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show this March. The 500L will be exported to markets in Europe and around the world with commercial launch planned for the last quarter of 2012.
By the end of 2012, some 2,400 people will be employed at the plant plus a further 1,000 with suppliers at the nearby supplier park. Once fully operational, the plant will have a production capacity of up to 200,000 cars per annum.
Turin-Kragujevac, 16 April 2012
News Source: Fiat