Manufacturers name: FCA Italy S.p.A.
Headquarters country: Italy
Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino ("FIAT") is an Italian car manufacturer founded in1899. In over a century of operation, the company has made everything: railway engines and carriages, military vehicles, tractors, aircraft, newspapers, auto parts, and automobiles. Highly successful in Europe, it is presently the largest automaker in Italy and second largest in Europe. The parent company, Fiat Group Automobiles, acquired many automakers over the years: Lancia in 1968, Ferrari in 1969, Alfa Romeo in 1986, Maserati in 1993, and Chrysler in 2014. Presently Fiat manufactures automobiles under twelve different brands: Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Ferrari, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Ram Trucks, and SRT.
Europe is Fiat’s major market, focused mainly in Italy. The Fiat 500, made between 1957 and 1975, put almost all Italians in a car because of its affordability, reliability, and practicality. Considered one of the first citycars, the 500 and 600 series are credited with helping to spark the Italian Miracle, a resurgence of European consumer production in the 1950’s and 60’s. The Italian automaker continues to have great success with citycars and superminis. Fiat Automotive models have won the European Car of the Year Award nine times starting with the Fiat 124 in 1967. The latest model of the Fiat 500 won the award in 2008.
Fiat’s history in the United States, although long, was not as successful. Fiat Automobile Company began building automobiles in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. in 1909. Owning a Fiat luxury vehicle became a status symbol of the time but this did not last. By the 1970’s, the Italian automakers reputation was on the ropes in the US. Problems with reliability and rust caused many to complain that FIAT meant “Fix It Again Tony”. Sales began to fall and by 1983 the company withdrew from the American market, with its reputation tarnished.
The Chrysler bankruptcy of 2008 was an opportunity to reenter the US market. Starting with a twenty percent share in 2009, the Italian car maker became the sole owner of the bankrupt and ailing American company in 2014. The redesigned Fiat 500, launched in 2011, marked the successful return of Fiat to the US market after a 25 year absence. More models are sure to come.