October 11, 2018 06:01 CET
MILAN — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles halted production of the diesel version of the Fiat Panda minicar Sept. 1, two sources told Automotive News Europe.
The decision to stop production of the diesel Panda is part of FCA’s new business plan announced June 1 at the automaker’s capital markets day. Former CEO Sergio Marchionne, who died July 25, said then that the automaker will “phase out diesel engines on all passenger vehicles by 2021.”
FCA did not comment on whether Panda diesel production had ended.
The Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure emissions tests, which went into effect in Europe Sept. 1, most likely accelerated the decision to drop the diesel Panda.
The 1.3-liter diesel engines for the Panda were produced in the FCA plant in Bielsko-Biala, Poland.
According to market researchers JATO Dynamics, Fiat sold 111,002 Pandas in Europe through August, down 15 percent from the same period of 2017. The diesel share was 15 percent, with 17,159 units sold. Most Pandas are sold in Italy — 77,636 by the end of August or 70 percent of the total.
According to the FIM-CISL Italian union, 134,202 units of the Panda were produced by the Pomigliano plant through September, down 16 percent from the same period of 2017. FCA does not publish production figures by plant or model.
500 diesel phase out
The 1.3-liter diesel engine is also offered in the Fiat 500, which is based on the same platform as the Panda. The 500 diesel, which is also being phased out, accounted for just 4 percent of 500s sales through August, according to JATO Dynamics. Diesel versions of the Fiat 500 are currently available in a few European countries as “end of stock” vehicles.
The two minicars accounted for 47 percent of Fiat brand car sales in Europe in the first eight months — more than half of sales if cars derived from light commercial vehicles are excluded. According to the 2018-22 business plan laid out by Marchionne on June 1, the 500, its derivatives and the Panda will be the core of the Fiat brand in Europe in the future.
While a new battery electric 500 is expected in 2020, the Panda engine range is expected to remain centered on gasoline, with the possible addition of mild-hybrid versions.
You can reach Andrea Malan at email@example.com.