11 May 2006

CO-OPERATION BETWEEN FIAT GROUP AND PSA PEUGEOT CITROňN IN THE LIGHT COMMERCIAL VEHICLE SECTOR

 

HISTORY OF CO-OPERATION BETWEEN THE TWO GROUPS

THE SEVEL SITE AT VAL DI SANGRO:

A RECORD-BREAKING FACTORY

THE NEW FAMILY OF LIGHT COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

 

HISTORY OF CO-OPERATION BETWEEN THE TWO GROUPS

A lasting, rewarding and varied co-operative venture

Since 1978, the date on which Sevel (Società Europea Veicoli Leggeri - European Light Vehicle Company) was established in Atessa (Italy), co-operation between the Fiat Group and the PSA Peugeot Citroën Group has offered a blend of engineering and manufacturing know-how that places it at the cutting edge of European light commercial vehicles.

Work started at the Val di Sangro plant in 1981, when output was 350 vehicles per day. The plant was then extended to cope with the manufacture of more products, until levels reached the current capacity of 900 vehicles per day (including the Ducato for Fiat and the Peugeot Boxer and Citroën Jumper for PSA Peugeot Citroën). This number will rise by more than 10% upon the commercial launch of the new vehicle family. On 15 December 2005, Sevel reached the production target of 3 million vehicles. If all these vehicles were placed end to end, they would form a line 15,000 km long, roughly the distance between Val di Sangro and Sydney, Australia.

The co-operative venture between the two Groups has been rewarded with great commercial success in Europe. The venture has consolidated over the years to the extent that it now covers most light commercial vehicle customer requirements. The agreement, extended to 2017 in January 2002, defines the methods of developing and manufacturing two new light commercial vehicle ranges and also the financial and industrial aims of the design project.

The rewarding continuation of this venture will allow both partners to share design and investment costs and thus make major economies of scale. The design, known as X250 (the code used to identify the new generations of Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Boxer and Citroën Jumper) will be manufactured in Sevel's Val di Sangro plant from the second half of the year. A second vehicle, manufactured in the Valenciennes plant in France, will be presented at a later stage.

In March 2005, the two Groups signed an agreement for the development and production of a third vehicle family to accommodate foreseeable growth in the European small vehicle segment. This new minicargo vehicle will be built under the co-ordination of Tofas in its Bursa plant (Turkey), and in close cooperation with both Companies.

Under the terms of the 2002 and 2005 agreements, Fiat and the PSA Peugeot Citroën have agreed to invest some €2.2 bn in total. Nearly 50% of this sum has been earmarked for the Italian plant where annual production is an impressive 230,000 units, a figure which could rise to 260,000 later. In detail, investment in Sevel's Atessa plant for the development and production of future models - i.e. the new Ducato, Boxer and Jumper vehicles - has amounted to more than €1.1 bn, of which €700 m has been allocated for new product development and suppliers' equipment. The other €400 m have been allocated for the extension of the panel and assembly shops, the addition of new production machinery, the construction of a new logistics yard and a new water-based paintshop equipped with the most up-to-date technology. Both partners have an equal holding and the plant is managed by Fiat Auto.

THE SEVEL SITE AT VAL DI SANGRO: A RECORD-BREAKING FACTORY

The Sevel (Società Europea Veicoli Leggeri) plant in Val di Sangro is the largest light commercial vehicle plant in Europe. The factory, established in 1981 as part of a joint venture between Fiat and PSA Peugeot Citroën, is located between the towns of Atessa and Paglieta in the Province of Chieti. It covers an area of more than 1,200,000 square metres (120 hectares), of which 344,000 (34 hectares) is equipped for the entire manufacturing cycle: body in white, painting and assembly.

It currently employs 5,200 people (more than 95% of whom live in the Abruzzo region). Two hundred and fifty articulated trucks enter its gates every day carrying parts, and 200 low loaders and four trains leave every day bearing the finished products. The body-in-white shop manufactures some 300 different types of body. The Paint shop uses 122 colours and the Assembly shop produces more than 600 versions and more than 150 options.

These incredible numbers are the result of the wide range of customer requirements, professional users and the fleets that Sevel products have to satisfy. One of Sevel's many strengths is its ability to manage product complexity. As confirmation of the high regard in which the vehicle is held in the market, manufacturing has continued unabated for 25 years. Far from falling off, production, employment and investments have risen steadily. The plant also meets the highest standards of quality and respect for the environment: The quality system is Iso 9001 certified (Vision 2000) and the environmental management system has achieved Iso 14001 certification.

One major breakthrough is Sevel's new painting system built for the new X250 vehicle. This is one of the most advanced systems of its type in Europe in terms of technology and respect for the environment (the use of water-based enamel is one example). The building is 330 metres long and 60 metres wide. It houses 150 workers per shift and 23 robots to apply sealant and enamel. Not to mention the cataphoretic baths and the drying and stoving ovens, all of which are automated. The employees are responsible only for supervising the process and monitoring the result. The preparation of surfaces for painting is also partly automated: this is done by emu feather rollers that are particularly suitable for the task because they do not become charged with static electricity created by friction.

Unlike cars, light commercial vehicle bodies are also painted inside because the surfaces of cargo versions are visible. For this reason, some 65 square metres of sheet steel must be coated for each X250 model: this requires 10 kilograms of enamel and 137 metres of sealant. In one year, 25 million metres is used, enough to go four times round the world.

Lastly, the new painting system offers a well-ventilated, light and quiet environment. This has been achieved through the use of a powerful air exchange system and vehicle conveyor lines that use rubber belts and are therefore silent.

 

THE NEW FAMILY OF LIGHT COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

Technical data of the X250, a benchmark in its category

The new X250 is heir to a successful model and has been tasked with the goal of continuing to be the benchmark in its category for style, practicality, performance, comfort and reliability.

Its look is therefore cutting edge and distinctive. It ensures easier loading and greater load capacity, plus outstanding performance and quality of life on board. The vehicle also offers state-of-the-art telematic and safety equipment, yet guarantees, most importantly of all, lower running costs. The new model retains the tried and tested mechanical layout of its predecessors (front-wheel drive and transverse engines) and offers a diverse range including:

* Goods transport versions, people-carrying versions and bases for conversions and bodybuilders
* Gross Vehicle Weights from 3 to 4 tonnes
* Two mechanical structures: 15" wheels and tyres (gross vehicle weight: 3 to 3.5 tonnes) and 16" (gross vehicle weight: 3.5 to 4 tonnes)
* Payloads from 1000 to 2000 kg
* Three wheelbases, four lengths and three heights for Van versions
* Seven load compartment volumes from 8 to 17 m³
* Four wheelbases and five lengths for the chassis range

The resulting product range allows all customers to choose a vehicle tailored to their needs.

The new model offers four, latest generation, Common Rail direct-injection 16 valve turbodiesel engines (multipoint injection) with power outputs ranging from 100 to 157 bhp. The environmentally friendly engines (they comply with the Euro 4 directive) are combined with 5-speed transmissions or a new 6-speed transmission. They feature high torque (250 to 400 Nm) at low rpm: for customers, this means lively take-off and pick-up, great driving satisfaction and outstanding comfort - but above all, good fuel economy.

The X250 also tops its category in terms of safety and comfort, as exemplified by bodies with differential crumple zones, new braking systems with four disc brakes - and the adoption of ABS with EBD and a driver's airbag as standard over the entire range. Depending on the market and the version, the vehicles also come with ASR and ESP, window bags, side bags and a front passenger airbag plus systems designed to protect against vehicle and load theft as standard equipment or options.

Last but not least, the new model also pays the closest attention to aspects connected with ergonomics, and also acoustic, climatic and vibrational comfort. Onboard well-being is an aspect of primary importance for a light commercial vehicle user, who may spend long hours behind the wheel, often under demanding conditions. For this reason, the passenger compartment has been designed to act as a welcoming, well-lit, comfortable and quiet mobile office.

The driving position is similar to that of a car, i.e. ideal for taking to the road under the best mental and physical conditions, with plenty of space available (drawers, compartments and shelves) for stowing possessions (PC, roadmaps and mobile phones).

Particular attention has also been devoted to the load space to facilitate daily use, without stress or fatigue, for the good of the various types of users and their companies. The well-designed load compartments are generous in terms of volume and size. The particularly low load thresholds and the large doors - including rear doors and sliding side doors, allow easy access.

Other factors contributing to onboard comfort include self-levelling suspension and infotelematic equipment: from a Bluetooth hands-free phone to a multimedia player for MP3 files.

Ends...

For further information please contact:

PETER NEWTON Public Relations Director

or Puneet Joshi Press Officer

Fiat Auto (UK) Limited

Tel: 01753 511431

Fax: 01753 516871

E-mail addresses: peter.newton@fiat.com/puneet.joshi@fiat.com

 

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