Wednesday, June 19, 2024
NewsItalian authorities seize Fiat Topolino cars over 'Made in Italy' dispute

Italian authorities seize Fiat Topolino cars over ‘Made in Italy’ dispute

Italian authorities clash with Stellantis over manufacturing laws and national branding

  • Italian authorities seized Fiat Topolino cars over “Made in Italy” law violations.

  • Stellantis denies wrongdoing and plans to remove the Italian flag stickers.

  • The dispute highlights tensions over job cuts and production shifts by Stellantis.

Italian authorities have seized dozens of new Fiat Topolino cars at the port of Livorno over allegations they violated laws reserving the “Made in Italy” designation for locally produced goods, Bloomberg reported.

The cars, a modern reboot of Fiat’s iconic 1930s “Little Mouse” microcar, had displayed the Italian national flag despite being assembled in Morocco, according to Italian authorities.

The seizure marks the latest clash between Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing administration and Stellantis over the Dutch-based automaker’s efforts to cut costs by shifting some production abroad.

A Stellantis spokesman confirmed the seizure, initially reported by Italian media outlets such as La Repubblica, but said the company had transparently communicated that the Topolino is produced at its joint venture plant in Kenitra, Morocco. He denied any wrongdoing.

Italy’s “Made in Italy” law protects domestic manufacturing by restricting the use of Italian branding for imported goods. Stellantis previously renamed its Alfa Romeo Milano model the “Junior” earlier this year after a similar dispute.

Fiat Topolino | Photo: Fiat

The automaker now plans to remove Italian flag stickers from Topolino cars bound for the home market, the spokesman said. The €9,890 ($10,775) retro-styled micro electric vehicle was designed and engineered in Italy.

The seizure compounds tensions after Stellantis announced hundreds of job cuts at its historic Mirafiori plant in Turin earlier this year, prompting protests by thousands of workers.

Meloni’s administration has traded barbs with Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares over moving more production out of Italy as the company ramps up cost-cutting efforts amid a broader strategic shift to electric vehicles and software-driven mobility technology.

For Meloni, whose nationalist rhetoric stresses economic self-sufficiency and protecting jobs, the Topolino dispute may be a useful rallying point on the eve of European Parliament elections.

But wrestling with global automakers over manufacturing footprints and supply chains highlights the obstacles for her economic policies in an era when even national industrial icons like Fiat span international borders.


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