FIAT IS FOUNDED
On 11 July 1899 at Palazzo Bricherasio, the company charter of Società Anonima Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Automotive Factory in Turin) was signed. Among the members of the Board of Directors, Giovanni Agnelli stood out in the group of investors and won recognition for his determination and strategic vision. In 1902, he became the Managing Director of the company.
FIAT OPENS ITS FIRST FACTORY
The first factory was opened in 1900 at Corso Dante. About 150 workers were employed, producing 24 cars, among which was the 3/12 HP, not yet equipped with reverse gear. Designed by Biscaretti, the FIAT® logo was adopted in 1904 with an oval against a blue background.
FIAT WINS RACES
The first Car Tour of Italy saw nine Fiat cars cross the finish line. The first real competition car, a 24 HP driven by Vincenzo Lancia, won the Sassi-Superga uphill race in 1902. Giovanni Agnelli himself ran in the Second Tour of Italy and set a record in an 8 HP.
FIAT EXPANDS OUTSIDE ITALY
Heading towards the most promising markets, the company expands its operations outside Italy and founded Fiat Automobile Co. in 1908 in the United States. In those years, the company grew and new companies sprung up with specific functions. Production increased: cars were flanked by commercial vehicles, marine engines, trucks, and trams.
FIAT RENOVATES ITS PRODUCTION
In a few years, Fiat completely renovated its production and the cars were fitted with electrical accumulators for the first time. The cardan transmission, a FIAT patent, began to be used. Fiat cars continued to shine in the competitions and set several records.
THE LINGOTTO FACTORY
In 1916, the construction of Lingotto started under the direction of Giacomo Mattè Trucco. The factory, being the largest in Europe, occupied five floors and had a futuristic test track on the roof. It soon became the emblem of the Italian automotive industry and was completed in 1922.
FIAT BRAVES NEW SECTORS
Fiat ventured into the steel industry, as well as the railway, electricity and public transportation lines. Fiat Lubrificanti was established and the first Italian subsidiary was opened in Russia. When the war broke out, company production was almost entirely aimed at supplying the army.
POST-WAR CRISIS AND RECOVERY
The company saw transformations and even crisis after the war, thanks to an effective cost-curbing policy, growth resumed as early as 1923. Giovanni Agnelli became the CEO. Numerous car models were launched, among which is the 509, the first car with four seats.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMPANY
The intent of the policy adopted by the company was to develop and launch industrial mass production—the only way to curb the prohibitive prices of cars at that time. During a phase of increasing consumption, Sava, a holding company was set up to promote instalment plans for purchasing cars. IFI, Istituto Finanziario Industriale, was also established.
SERVICES FOR EMPLOYEES
These years were also significant for the internal growth of Fiat. Numerous organisations for employees were established: from health care to specialized schools to sports clubs.
FALLING BACK ON THE DOMESTIC MARKET
During the years of Mussolini’s autarchic policy, Fiat too had to rescale its plans for international presence and concentrate instead on the domestic market. In the 1930s, trucks and commercial vehicles underwent considerable technological development and at the same time, the aviation and railway sectors grew.
THE NEW CARS
In 1934 and 1936, two cars were launched to an enormous public: the “Balilla,” also called “Tariffa minima” due to its low fuel consumption, and the “Topolino,” the smallest utilitarian car in the world produced until 1955.
THE MIRAFIORI FACTORY
In 1937, work started for the great Mirafiori plant, which introduced the most advanced principles of industrial organisation and confirmed company focus on mass production.
SECOND WORLD WAR
When the war broke out, there was a drastic reduction in the production of cars, while the construction of commercial vehicles increased considerably.
CHANGES IN LEADERSHIP
In 1945, Senator Giovanni Agnelli died and the presidency of the Fiat was assumed by Vittorio Valletta.
In 1948, the reconstruction of the plants destroyed during the war was completed, thanks to the American subsidies from the Marshall plan. Profits started to grow and the number of employees also increased.
COMMITMENT TO RESEARCH
With two new cars such as the 500 and the 1400, Fiat confirmed its commitment to research and innovation. For the first time, the heating and ventilation systems were installed in mass production. Research continued on marine and aircraft engines in 1951 with the first Italian jet aircraft, the G80.
FIRST DIESEL-POWERED VEHICLE
In 1953, the first Fiat diesel-engined vehicle was presented—the 1400 diesel.
THE BEGINNING OF THE ECONOMIC BOOM
In 1958, production started growing enormously, both for automobiles and farm machinery. Mirafiori doubled its factories and Fiat set up new manufacturing plants abroad as well. Italy also saw a period of economic boom and the auto sector was the 'driving force' of the economy.
In 1955, the Fiat 600 was born, a big utilitarian car with a rear mounted engine. In 1957, the new 500 was presented and in 1960 it began to be produced in the 'Giardinetta' version, a precursor of the Station Wagon style. Moreover, these were the years of Fiat 1800, 1300 and 1500.
2300 AND 2300S
At the 1950 Turin Show, a prototype Sport Coupe on the 2100 chassis was exhibited by the coachbuilder Ghia. In the autumn of the following year, this model was officially added to the Fiat range. Two versions were manufactured: one with 2300 engine, and the other, with the 2300S.
A Fiat exhibit at the 1967 Geneva Show launched a closed version of the Dino—a four-seat Coupé designed and produced by Bertone. The mechanical specification was identical with that of the Spider only with a longer wheelbase.
Fiat’s last innovation for 1972 was the X 1/9 Spider Coupe launched at the end of November. This mid-engined car is powered by the 128 Sport 1300 engine with the engine arranged across the frame.
124 SPORT SPIDER
The 124 sport Spider made its bow at the 1966 Turin Show. The body was designed and manufactured by Pininfarina, while the engine was especially interesting, consisting of a 1,438 cc, four-cylinder unit with toothed belt drive to twin overhead camshafts. The five-speed gearbox was also noteworthy.
In 1966, Giovanni Agnelli, the grandson of the founder, became President of the company. In those years there was a trend towards increased automation of the manufacturing processes to cope with the oil crisis, as well as to continue driving technological innovations.
THE NEW CARS
After Fiat 850, a new popular utilitarian car, the 127, made its debut in 1971.
THE ROBOGATE SYSTEM
In 1978, a new flexible robotized system for assembling the bodywork was put into place, called as the “Robogate” system. It paved the way to innovation and the automation of production.
Fiat’s numerous operations were set up as independent companies. Alongside Fiat Auto, the following companies were founded: Fiat Ferroviaria, Fiat Avio, Fiat Trattori, Fiat Engineering, Comau, Teksid, and Magneti Marelli.
THE HOLDING CONFIGURATION
In 1979, the auto sector was set up as an independent company: Fiat Auto S.p.A., which included the brands Fiat, Lancia, Autobianchi, Abarth, Ferrari. The Ferrari brand was acquired at 50% initially, a share that later rose to 87%. In 1984, the company also took over Alfa Romeo (following by Maserati acquisition - a prestigious sports car brand - in 1993).
THE FIAT PANDA AND THE FIAT UNO
In 1980, a new utilitarian was styled by Giugiaro—the Fiat Panda. Two years later the car that would become the emblem of Fiat Auto’s renewal was born: the Fiat Uno. It featured radical innovations in its electronics, choice of materials, and the use of a clean engine: the 1000 Fire.
THE FIAT TIPO
Another successful model appeared in 1989: the Fiat Tipo, voted as “Car of the year” for its cutting-edge technical solutions. Its production marked a conquest of Fiat technology: production by processing stations.
THE NEW CARS OF THE 1990S
After the debut of the Fiat Tempra in 1990, the Fiat 500 came out in 1991. Two years later, in 1993, it was the moment of Fiat Punto under the limelight, consequently winning “Car of the Year” in 1995. Fiat Coupé was also launched at the same time with a bodywork designed by Pininfarina and Centro Stile Fiat.
OTHER POPULAR CARS
With Fiat Ulysse coming out in 1994, the company made its entry in a sector that was progressively expanding: the SUV. The year 1995 saw the debut of the Barchetta, the Fiat Bravo and Brava, followed by Fiat Marea and Marea WE the next year, and Fiat Palio in 1997.
NEW LEADERSHIP, NEW OFFICE
In 1996, Giovanni Agnelli became the Honorary President of the Fiat Group and Cesare Romiti took the position of CEO. In 1997, the parent company left its premises in Corso Marconi and moved to the Palazzina Fiat of Lingotto, which, in the meantime, had been converted into a Trade Fair and Convention Complex.
THE LAST BORN IN 1990S AND THE FIRST BORN OF THE NEW CENTURY
The year 1998 was the year of Fiat Seicento, ideal for city driving, and the Multipla, characterised by flexible use and uncommon versatility. Two years later at the Paris Motor Show, Fiat Doblò was presented: a young car, informal, that also served the functions of a commercial vehicle. Meanwhile, in Brazil, three world cars were launched: the Palio, Palio Weekend, and Siena. In 2001 Fiat Stilo was launched, donning a new design with sophisticated technology and numerous deluxe options. Changes in style also manifested for the following year with Fiat Multipla, New Fiat Ulysse and Fiat Stilo Multi Wagon coping with the consumers’ change of taste. In 2003 – the year that saw the sad death of Giovanni Agnelli, who had been at the helm of Fiat for almost half a century - the new Punto was marketed (exactly 10 years after the model was first launched) with the innovative 1.3 Multijet 16v. The new Barchetta was also restyled inside and out. In the autumn, Fiat reclaimed its leading position in the super-compact segment with the new Panda, immediately being recognized as the '2004 Car of the Year'.
Fuel saving and top performing, this engine proved a real success factor on the new Fiat car models. The new system – born of the evolution of the ‘Common Rail’ principle – was the basis of the new second-generation Fiat engines: the small 1.3 Multijet 16v, the sporty 1.9 Multijet 120 and 150 bhp and the powerful 1.4 90 bhp.
THREE YEARS OF NEW MODELS
The years 2004-2006 were an extremely busy time for the Turin company, which, following a profound change in corporate culture and mentality, focused on a continuous, rapid overhaul of its products, on technological research, on the quality of its designs, and on a new, constructive relationship with the customer. During these years, this new philosophy gave rise to a series of new models, and some restyling of older models: from the improved Fiat Idea Model Year, Seicento MY and Stilo MY, to the new Multipla and the launch of the Panda 4x4 in 2004; The following year began with the launch of the new Croma, designed by Giugiaro, the new 600 (celebrating its 50th anniversary), and the beautiful and exciting Grande Punto. The year 2006 saw the launch of the New Doblò and Sedici, the 4x4 TUTTI which became the official car of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, while the Panda MY 2007 range was extended and overhauled.
THE RESTYLING OF THE LOGO ON FIAT IDEA
Fiat Idea was the first MPV created by Fiat, as well as the first car with the task of communicating the brand’s new 'mission.’ Fiat Idea donned the round logo, renewed and proposed by Centro Stile Fiat to evoke the emblem designed to celebrate the Company’s 100th Anniversary. It was also meant to get across the most significant change in Fiat car design: more attention to high-tech content and intelligent solutions designed to simplify several aspects of daily life.
THE DEBUT OF THE NEW LOGO ON THE BRAVO
2007 began with the launch of the Bravo – preceded by the first ever institutional Fiat blog. Bravo is the first car to sport the new Fiat logo as a tangible sign of the company’s turnaround. The new Bravo is a successful blend of beauty and substance, destined to become a benchmark for the segment.
On July 4 2007, exactly 50 years after the launch of the original 500, the new Fiat 500 made its debut in Turin. It is the first ‘small’ car with an individualistic concept, allowing the consumer to tailor-make their 500 with more than 500,000 available variants. Following its launch, the 500 won numerous awards, such as the European Car of the Year In 2008. Numerous limited editions and versions have been created: new Fiat 500 by GQ, Gucci and Diesel just to name a few.
TWIN AIR–REVOLUTIONARY TECHNOLOGY
In July 2010, Twin Air—the first of a new family world’s high tech two-cylinder engines made by FPT (Fiat Powertrain Technologies)—was launched through the Fiat 500 model. This technology implemented the revolutionary MultiAir system combined with specific fluid dynamics optimised for maximum fuel efficiency. Furthermore, by taking the concept of downsizing to the extreme and masterfully tuning the basic mechanics, the new Twin Air engine family delivered from 65 to 105 HP and emitted 30% less CO2 than an engine of equal performance.
FIAT BECOMES MORE ENVIRONMENT-FRIENDLY
Fiat cars became more eco-friendly with low pollutant and CO2 emission levels. With Fiat Eco-drive, Methane engines, Start&Stop, MultiJet, and TwinAir, the Fiat Group’s sustainability strategy has resulted in a combination of conventional and alternative technologies. The Fiat brand also made its move in the electric cars field with the launch of Fiat 500e (with 0 CO2 emissions) on July 2013 in USA.
FIAT 500 FAMILY
Since the launch of Fiat 500L in the summer of 2012, the 500 family continues to grow with the adventurous Fiat 500L Trekking and the functional 500L Living designed for the whole family. They all bring the same qualities of 500: cooln, youthful, and energy but with more space to play around.
Fiat has brought its passion not only to the "Old Continent", but also in Northern America with the launch of Fiat in USA and in Asia. The latter’s breakthrough was highlighted with the creation of the new joint venture GAC Fiat in 2010. After the importation of Fiat Bravo, Fiat 500 and Fiat Freemont, it was the time of Fiat Viaggio in 2012, the first tailor-made sedan for China market produced in GAC Fiat joint venture factory located in Changsha. This factory adapts the standards of World Class Manufacturing as all the factories from Fiat and Chrysler.