UPDATE 1-Stellantis may delay Alfa Romeo Tonale SUV production to 2022, union says

(Adds Stellantis comment on Tonale, details on 500 small car, context)

MILAN, April 8 (Reuters) - Stellantis could delay production of the Alfa Romeo’s Tonale SUV to next year to allow time to prepare the assembly line at its Pomigliano plant, in southern Italy, the head of the FIM CISL union said on Thursday.

Ferdinando Uliano said FIM CISL was asking the company to meet its target to start (Tonale’s) production by the end of this year.

“But we’ve got signs of a possible delay to early 2022,” he told a news conference on the carmaker’s production in Italy, which is under scrutiny for costing more than elsewhere.

Responding to a request for comment, Stellantis said the Tonale would be the first milestone in Alfa Romeo’s future.

“We want to be on the market with the most updated electrified offer, leveraging on the Stellantis technology and know-how. Our teams in Pomigliano are strongly working to update the production line,” it said.

The world’s fourth largest carmaker is striving for more than 5 billion euros ($5.9 billion) a year in savings following its creation from the merger of PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler earlier this year.

Uliano said Stellantis will slow production of the electric version of its 500 small car from April 19, when working shifts at Turin’s Mirafiori plant are reduced from two to one, to respond to difficulties in battery supply and to lower market demand.

“This doesn’t mean production would be halved, but it definitely means going below the current daily rate of 210 units,” he said.

To address efficiency and overcapacity issues in Italy, CEO Carlo Tavares is also considering whether to concentrate production at the Melfi plant into one line from the current two, Uliano said last month.

Unions will meet with Stellantis’ “enlarged Europe” region top executives on April 15 in Turin.

“We’ll know on April 15 whether such a plan becomes official or not,” Uliano said. ($1 = 0.8425 euros) (Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; editing by Barbara Lewis)