Parallel with marking almost six decades of work, the car factory in Kragujevac has started the export of the new model Fiat 500L. The first batch of 206 cars was taken by train to the Montenegrin port of Bar, from where it will be shipped to Italy. The report of Ranka Pavlovic.
These days, another series of 206 cars will be sent to Bar, and it is planned that by the end of the year two weekly train compositions will be transporting the vehicles from Kragujevac. Starting in November, there will be 500 cars Fiat 500L coming off the line on the daily basis, and by the end of year the total of 30 thousand will be manufactured. It is an important job for the Serbian Railways, because they have already transported the components for the needs of the Fiat Automobiles Serbia, for the needs of this model. Once the production reaches 200 thousand cars per year, up to 12 trains will be departing from Kragujevac each week.
The model Fiat 500L is manufactured exclusively in Kragujevac, and it will start selling officially in Europe as of October 1. since recently, it can be ordered in Italy and bigger European cities, and it will be distributed in more than 100 countries around the world, including USA, and the regions of Asia and Pacific. It is expected that the sales will be best in the Old Continent, while one third of the vehicles should be sent to the US market. According to Cesare Ferrara, the director general of the Fiat Automobiles Serbia, the model 500L will be sold at the price of 15,500 euros in Italy. In Serbia, the basic version of this model will be offered for EUR 13,490. There are three kinds of motors available, with lower emission of harmful gasses. There is also the possibility of the state subsidizing the purchase with 1,000 euros and with very favorable credits.
A special variety of the 500L is prepared for each individual market, all made of best materials and with modern equipment, special sensors and computerized control of many functions. More than one billion euros has been invested in the factory in Kragujevac, of which one third for the purpose of reconstructing the facilities. Some 700 million was aimed at obtaining the latest technology and equipment. In the vicinity of this factory, cooperating companies have built four plants. At issue are multinational enterprises Sigit, Johnson Controls, Magnetti Marelli and HTL, but soon they will be expanded with the Caltex company, which makes gas tanks and heaters. Another reinforcement will come in the form of Draexlmaier, producers of cable sets.
The record year in the history of the Serbian car manufacturer was 1989, when 220 thousand vehicles were made, and almost 30 thousand went to exports. Back then, the Zastava company had over 53 thousand employees, and its production involved 280 firms in 130 towns of then Yugoslavia. The company from Kragujevac has exported 140,000 cars of Yugo brand to USA. The Zastava started in 1960 by making the legendary “fica”, under the license of Fiat 600, and two years later the model 750 as well. By 1985, when it was discontinued, bit more than 920 thousand of this popular model was sold.