After Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and PSA merged to establish Stellantis in 2021, the future of the Tofaş factory in Bursa, which produces Fiat brand cars, became a matter of curiosity.
So much so that after the production of Fiat Doblo, which has been produced in the factory in Bursa for 20 years, was shifted to Spain, where Stellantis’ other vehicles in the same segment were produced, this curiosity left its place to various speculations.
To be recalled, Tofaş, which has produced more than 2 million Doblos since 2000, reserved nearly 35 percent of its total production for Doblo last year.
However, although it was announced in June 2022 that the Doblo will now be produced in Spain, it has not been announced yet what kind of a task Tofaş will be assigned to replace this model in the past 7 months, placing this issue at the top of the agenda of the Turkish automotive industry.
While the future role of the Tofaş factory remains a mystery, a remarkable statement came from Fiat CEO Olivier François.
‘IT WILL BE LIKE A SUV’
Speaking to the British automotive publication Autoexpress, François said that the car produced by Tofaş and sold as Egea in Turkey and Tipo in Europe will turn into a new generation crossover.
“You will see the next generation of our C-segment hatchback in 2025. We need to renew Tipo (Egea). Now, as all manufacturers do, our car will transcend traditional segmentations. So it will be somewhat SUV-like, but in an innovative way,” François said.
Evaluating the possibility that the new Egea will only be sold as electric, François signaled that they can be flexible in this regard, saying, “We have to follow the market and listen to the customers. However, battery costs are not falling as fast as we would like.”
‘EUROPEAN AND SOUTH AMERICAN PRODUCTS MUST BE THE SAME’
As it is known, Fiat offers different cars with different infrastructures for sale in Europe and South America.
However, the new Egea is expected to be sold with the same body in all countries where Fiat sells.
Fiat CEO Olivier François, who also gave clear messages on this issue, said: “If we do not combine our European and South American product lines, there is no way for Fiat to become profitable in a sustainable way.”
It is highly likely that the new Egea with SUV body will be produced on the CMP platform, which was taken from the shelves of PSA and brought to life the cars of brands such as Peugeot, Opel and Citroen.
On the other hand, it is predicted that the design of the new Egea will bear traces of Citroen C5 Aircross and Fiat’s Pulse model sold in Latin America.
In addition, it is stated that after the New Egea is offered for sale as an SUV, the existing hatchback, sedan and station wagon body types will become history.
ON THE ROADS SINCE 2015
Egea, produced by Tofaş in Bursa and exported to Europe and America, hit the road in 2015. While the car underwent a makeover in 2020, a high-from-the-ground Cross version was added to the lineup after the makeover.
Sales of the car in Europe peaked at 125 thousand units in 2016, and its sales in the continent decreased by a quarter in the intervening period.
The article in the British broadcaster also drew attention to the capacity gap that emerged at the Tofaş factory in Bursa after Stellantis moved Fiat Doblo to its factory in Vigo, Spain.
CAN FILL THE GAP OF DOBLO
At this point, it should be noted that the Fiat CEO’s announcement of the new Egea is not an explanation for how to fill the Doblo vacancy in Tofaş. There is still no explanation from the Stellantis front on this issue.
However, the fact that the new Egea will become a completely global model, as Fiat CEO Olivier François pointed out, may mean that Tofaş will produce more Egea. Fiat does not offer models for sale in Europe, including Egea in Latin America.
Instead, the compact SUV Pulse, Cronos, a sedan with similar dimensions to the Egea, and Fastback, an SUV-coupe, are offered for sale. Cronos also has a hatchback body just like Egea.
The fact that Egea will be sold in both Europe and South America in its new generation may cause the Italian brand to put an end to Cronos in South America and replace this model with the new Egea.
In such a case, it may be possible for the Tofaş factory in Bursa, which currently exports to overseas, to fill the capacity arising from Doblo as Egea’s only production center in the world.
As a result, it can be said that Tofaş will enter an active period regarding both the future of Egea, Turkey’s best-selling car with a 12 percent market share, and how the capacity gap in the factory will be filled.