Fiat’s CEO Sergio Marchionne said that the automaker will reach full employment at its plants in Italy in the following three or four years.

“With new investments in three-four years we will have full employment of our work force in Italy, ” he said during a business conference in Milan on Thursday, January 17th.

The company said that it asked Italy’s government to approve a special layoff scheme for the Melfi plant, located in southern Italy, so the automaker can restructure the facility before production of the Fiat and Jeep SUVs begins. In Europe, the high unemployment and the government spending cuts have made auto demand and consumer budgets drop to alarmingly levels in a market which already suffers from overcapacity.

“We are dragging the bottom, but it’s the bottom” for industry sales in the region”, said Sergio Marchionne. “Pricing is not great, and that continues to be the most troublesome part of the European market.”

Marchionne plans to make Fiat’s brands profitable in Europe before merging the Italian automaker with Chrysler. Fiat predicted a 700 million-euro ($935 million) loss in Europe for 2012 and said that sales will break even no sooner than 2015.


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