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A Brief history of Fiat

On the 11th July 1899, Fiat was founded with the signing of the company charter of “Società Anonima Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino”. Giovanni Agnelli, one of the original investors, seems to have stood out from the crowd with his vision and determination and as a result, two years after the first factory opened he was made managing director of the company, a position his family would hold until Mussolini was overthrown in 1945, when they were removed from leadership because of their close ties with the Mussolini government, as a consequence, the Agnelli families right to control Fiat were not returned until 1963, when Giovanni’s grandson, Gianni, took over as general manager until 1966 and chairman until 1996.

The early nineteen hundreds had seen Fiat expand into many markets including trucks and aircraft engines, their core business however was in cars and the Fiat Taxi became more and more popular in Europe, further expansion introduced Fiat cars into the US, and at the time a new Fiat cost anything between 4 and 10 times the cost of a Model T Ford, making the marque a somewhat distinguished car.

Following Gianni’s appointment, he undertook a major restructuring of the company reorganising production into two main groups – passenger cars being one, trucks and tractors the other – this freed up the management and as a result the company began looking to the future. Production was increased and in the late sixties Fiat overtook Volkswagen with sales of over $2 billion. Fiats prosperity continued through the seventies with sales reaching a peak in the United States in 1979 during the Iranian oil crisis, this however proved to be short lived and within five years Fiat had withdrawn from the American market.

Acquisitions were made by Fiat during the late eighties through to the nineties including Alfa Romeo and Maserati, expanding Fiats portfolio that already included Ferrari and Lancia.

With market share falling Fiat introduced Paolo Fresco as chairman in 1998. Charged with getting more value for shareholders he offered workers performance related bonuses, this, however led to unrest with the unions and many thought that Fresco had been brought in to oversee the sale of the company. Although this may not have happened, it came close and after Fiat formed CNH Global by merging New Holland NV and Case Corporation in 1999 an alliance was made with General Motors in 2000, this offered the American giant an option to purchase after four years at a fair market value, if General motors failed to take up this option they would be made to pay Fiat $2 billion. Four years later the American firm chose to pay the fine and the agreement was disolved in may 2005.

Since 2004 Fiat has come under the leadership of Sergio Marchionne and on his watch losses have fallen, mainly due to the success of the Grande Punto, although the new version of the 500 has also contributed. Joint ventures with India’s Tata cars and also with a chinese manufacturer (Chery) has shown Fiat’s determination to to succeed in emerging markets and as ever it maintains a stranglehold on the Italian market with over two thirds of all of its cars being sold to its domestic market.

 

 
 

New Fiat 500  

New Fiat 500
With the success of the new Beetle and the new MINI, Fiat are surely on to a winner with the relaunch of the car that motorized Italy, the Fiat 500.

  New Fiat Bravo  
New Fiat Bravo
If you go by looks alone, the new Bravo should be a best seller for Fiat. Replacing the not so hot Stilo, the Bravo looks to be a step in the right direction.
             
New Fiat Doblo  
New Fiat Doblo
The practical van based MPV from Fiat, the Doblo is ideal for those who find the need for both a van and a car all rolled into one.
  New Fiat Grande Punto  
New Fiat Grande Punto
Larger than most of its rivals and better looking too, but the best thing about the Grande Punto is the price, coming in at almost £2000 under its rivals.
             
New Fiat Multipla  
New Fiat Multipla
It may have looked like a frog in its previous incarnation, but the new Fiat Multipla has had the looks toned down, still an excellent MPV though.
  New Fiat Panda  
New Fiat Panda
One of the better city cars in the marketplace today, the Fiat Panda is fun to drive, cheap to run and reliable, hard to fault really.
             
New Fiat Qubo  
New Fiat Qubo
Fiat's latest van based MPV is the Qubo. Small, practical and inexpensive this most recent addition to the Fiat range is sure to be a success.
  New Fiat Sedici  
New Fiat Sedici
Developed in conjunction with Suzuki, the Sedici is Fiat's first step into the soft roader marketplace, Supermini size with 4 wheel drive when you need it.
 

 

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