MILAN (AP) -- Fiat Chairman John Elkann says the Italian carmaker's shift to premium models remains a valid strategy as European sales continue to plummet.
Elkann said Friday that Fiat, which owns Chrysler, is proceeding with its plan to launch 17 higher-margin premium models for export by 2016 to revive stagnant Italian production lines.
European car sales dropped 10 percent in the first-quarter, though premium brand were more resilient. Fiat sales dropped 9 percent.
Fiat has added a second shift at its Grugliasco plant near Turin as it revs up production of the Maserati Quattroporte. The smaller Ghibli will start being produced later this year.
Elkann also indicated that his family's holding company would maintain its shareholder role after Fiat and Chrysler complete their merger, which could happen by mid-2014.