Fiat opens first plant in China to build Viaggio image

Fiat Spa, Italy’s largest carmaker has held today a ceremony in the Chinese province of Hunan, to celebrate completion of the new factory and the rollout of the Fiat Viaggio, the first Fiat model produced in China.

The plant, based in Hunan province, is the latest development in a 5 billion yuan ($786.73 million) joint-venture between Fiat Spa and GAC, China’s sixth largest auto manufacturer.

Fiat’ CEO Sergio Marchionne met with representatives of Hunan and Guandong provinces to unveil the 730,000 square-meter plant, which is to produce 140,000 Viaggios a year.

The vehicle made an appearance at April’s Beijing International Automotive Exhibition. While it borrows many design elements from the Dodge Dart, there are several new touches, including a new front fascia and chrome highlights. The Viaggio is designed on the same CCUSW platform that the new Alfa-Romeo Giulietta is based on. It sports a wheelbase of 2.71 m, making it more spacious than its rivals.

The base model will crank out just 120 horsepower and the optional engine will produce 150 horsepower, 40 horsepower and 10 horsepower less than the Dart’s 1.4-liter, respectively. The engines will link up to either a five-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The Viaggio won’t be sold outside of China, at least for now. Prices will be announced shortly before the Viaggio goes on sale in the autumn of 2012.