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The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Fiat Spa today signed a EUR 250m finance contract in Turin to support the car firm’s research and development (R&D) plans. The EIB was represented by Dario Scannapieco, EIB Vice-President responsible for operations in Italy, Malta and the Western Balkans, and Fiat by its CEO, Sergio Marchionne.

The project concerns Fiat SpA’s research and development centres in Italy, whose activities are focused on energy efficiency in motor vehicles either by reducing CO2 engine emissions or studying new vehicle designs.

For the EIB, the operation meets two of the traditional investment objectives in support of the European economy: R&D projects and projects to protect the environment by reducing emissions and improving energy efficiency.

The Fiat SpA operation is being carried out in line with the provisions of the European Clean Transport Facility (ECTF), the EIB’s package of measures developed for European manufacturers two years ago to counter the effects of the economic crisis by investing in reducing CO2 emissions and increasing energy efficiency.

For the EIB the Fiat SpA project meets the following requirements:

  • it will help to improve the company’s know-how concerning product innovation (including LPG, hybrid and energy-saving engines and those based on new materials);
  • it will hep to increase the overall technological level of the European automotive industry through Fiat SpA’s cooperation on R&D with similar facilities at other vehicle manufacturers, external research centres and with universities;
  • it will ultimately help to reduce emissions of CO2 and other harmful substances, thereby enabling Fiat SpA to meet the European Union’s CO2 emissions targets for 2015 (122/123 g/km) and 2020 (95 g/km).

The finance contract signed today consolidates the existing cooperation between the EIB and the Italian car manufacturer, which over the years has been reflected in a number of financing operations. The most recent dates back to 2009, when, again under the ECTF, a EUR 400m loan was signed for R&D projects involving the Fiat Group.

“Our long-standing working relationship with Fiat, Italy’s leading manufacturing group and one of the world’s major car producers, continues and is being strengthened. We are particularly pleased to be contributing to the Group’s initiatives in designing and creating new, low environmental impact technologies for the transport sector. It is on this front that the challenge facing car manufacturers globally over the next few years is being played out, as sustainable development is based on a constant and effective commitment to research and innovation. Today this commitment is crucial for improving competitiveness. Fiat has risen to this challenge”, declared Mr Scannapieco.

“Fiat”, said its CEO Sergio Marchionne, “is grateful to the EIB for signing the finance contract. This operation will enable us to strengthen our commitment to sustainable mobility by increasing our expertise in alternative forms of traction. We are one of the few companies in the automotive industry to be admitted last year to the Dow Jones Sustainability indices, the most prestigious stock market indices, for which only companies considered to be the best according to sustainability criteria are eligible. In 2010, for the fourth year running, Fiat Group Automobiles was the manufacturer that recorded the lowest level of CO2 emissions by vehicles sold in Europe”.