Opel, DS flagship electric cars will be built in Italy

Europe

MILAN — Stellantis will build new full-electric flagship models for the DS and Opel/Vauxhall brands starting in 2024, according to documents seen by Automotive News Europe, as the group reshuffles model allocations for its European factories.

The models will be built in Melfi, southern Italy.

Production is set to start by late 2024 for the DS model, internally code-named D85 and potentially called DS 9 Crossback, requests for quotations (RFQs) to suppliers show. 

The model is expected to be a midsize five-door fastback with a higher seating position similar in proportions to the 4800 mm-long Citroen C5 X built in China.

It would be followed in early 2025 by a sister model that will replace the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, which was developed when General Motors owned Opel in the mid-2010s. The Insignia is built in Germany. The new midsized electic car is being developed under the codenamed the OV85 project.

STLA medium platform

Stellantis, which was formed in January 2021 after the merger of PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has 24 assembly plants in the European region, including one in Russia.

CEO Carlos Tavares pledged during the merger process not to close factories and the Opel/DS flagships will help to boost capacity use of factories in Italy.

The cars will be based on a new architecture called STLA Medium. Designed for premium vehicles and defined by Stellantis as “BEV by design,” meaning that it was conceived mainly for battery powered vehicles but could also underpin internal combustion variants in markets and regions that would require it.

Vehicles based on STLA Medium will be 4350 to 5000 mm long, house battery packs of 87 to 104 kilowatt-hours and offer a range up to 700 km (440 miles), the company said last year in its EV Day presentation.

In announcing new investment for Melfi in June 2021, Stellantis said four new models being allocated there will be full electric.

New Lancia, DS models

The other two models planned for Melfi are a full-electric replacement for the compact DS 7 Crossback SUV, with the internal code name of D74, in late 2025; and a sibling model for Lancia with the code name L74 that is likely to be called Aurelia, Lancia CEO Luca Napolitano told ANE last year.

According to documents, Stellantis will build an average of 90,000 units per year of the four full-electric models between 2026 and 2029 at Melfi.

That will likely mean that additional products, as well as continued production of current internal combustion models, would be needed to fill the factory’s installed capacity of 400,000 units a year.

In an emailed statement, a Stellantis spokesman said that “Melfi in 2024 will begin production of four new electric multi-brand models and a dedicated assembly line for battery packs.”

The spokesman declined to identify the brands and the models to be built in Melfi, as well as other manufacturing allocations in Europe.

Melfi currently builds the Fiat 500X small SUV, launched in 2014, as well as the Jeep Renegade (also launched in 2014) and Compass, launched in 2016. Some Renegade production is exported to North America.

Production at Melfi, which has 6,700 employees, decreased by 29 percent in 2021 to 163,646 vehicles, less than half of the 2018 output of 339,865. In recent years, Melfi production peaked at 393,000 units in 2015, figures from FIM-CISL union show. 

While Opel and DS models will move to Italy, other models from the former FCA will be built outside of the country. According to supplier sources, they include:

  • The next Jeep Renegade, due in 2025, will be built in Spain. 
  • A successor to the Fiat Panda minicar (extended until 2026 at the Pomigliano, southern Italy) is expected to be built either in Kragujevac, Serbia or Trnava, Czech Republic.
  • The next-generation Lancia Ypsilon, the brand’s first next new product in more than a decade, will be built starting in 2024 in Zaragoza, Spain. The current Ypsilon, launched in 2011, is built in Tychy, Poland. 

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