FIAT, as most automobile enthusiasts know, is no more a niche Italian company. It is a part of the FCA now. FCA, the FIAT Chrysler Automobile is a major car manufacturer in Italy and runs under the vision of Sergio Marchionne, the CEO. He has big plans for the company as they have a close look at all the automotive consuming countries. It has brands like Alfa Romeo, FIAT, and Jeep Chrysler under their names. While it is a big name now in the automotive industry of the world, it was not always like that for FIAT. In fact, the company had a very humble beginning more than a 100 years ago.
FIAT stands for Fabbrica Italiana Automobil Torina, which means Factory Italian Automobile Turin in English. Founded in 1899, the first automobile model of the company came out the same year which was a hit and had a quickly established demand. By 1900s, these automobiles had a great demand and were well known all over the world.
Giovanni Agnelli, the then managing director of the company, visited the Henry Ford factories in the US in the late 1910s. He was very impressed with the techniques of mass production used in these factories and upon his return to Italy, introduced the same techniques to his company as well. This resulted in the construction of a huge factory outside Turin in Italy which was then the largest factory in all of Europe. It was a symbol of growing Italian automobile industry. There were more than 50,000 employees of FIAT before WWII. Most of the automobile production was halted after the Second World War and the factory was used to manufacture war equipment.
After the end of the Second World War, the production of automobiles in the FIAT factories resumed immediately. The number of cars produced each year rose to 1,751,400 cars from 425,000 per year. FIAT was hit by strike in the 1970s, which slowed down the production a little. The reputation of the company was damaged due to the use of inferior quality Russian steel and other quality issues as well. In 1983, the company was pulled out of the North American market due to bad press, lagging sales, and poor quality.
In the same era, the other car makers in Italy were also going through similar crisis and this led FIAT to a buying spree. It bought Lancia in 1978 and Alfa Romeo in 1986. It also dabbled with Ferrari in the 1960s and reached an agreement to take 50% of its shares.
FIAT has a long history pertaining to over a 100 years. It is one of the most well-known automobile brands of the world. Companies like Automoda offer services for FIAT and Alfa Romeo in Sydney.
In the 1990s, the company saw various ups and downs. And it came as a surprise for the automobile world out there when it merged with General Motors in 2000. It lasted for 5 years and they separated in 2005. In 2009, FIAT began its merger with Chrysler Corporation and later combined the company to form FCA.