Fiat projects full employment of its Italy work force in 3 to 4 years

Fiat will reach full employment of its work force at Italian plants in the next three to four years, CEO Sergio Marchionne said.

“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.

On Tuesday, the company said it had asked the Italian government to approve a special layoff scheme at its plant in Melfi, southern Italy, so the company can restructure it before production of new Jeep and Fiat small SUVs start.

Government spending cuts and high unemployment have squeezed consumer budgets and sent demand for cars plunging across Europe where the industry already suffers from overcapacity.

Like many other carmakers, Fiat, which controls U.S. carmaker Chrysler Group, has been hard hit by Europe’s debt crisis. Italy has suffered more than many countries as 2012 new car sales slumped to their lowest level since 1979.