FIAT is a global car company headquartered in Italy. The organization has divisions and manufacturing plants scattered across almost every continent, with the South American operations being their largest outside of Europe. FIAT has recently stepped out of the shadow of a series of financially dark years and has begun to once again report profits. Much of this change has been attributed to the company’s renewed focus on automobile development, as well as partnerships with TATA and Chery. On January 20th, 2009, FIAT Group, Chrysler LLC and Cerberus Capital Management L.P. announced a global strategic alliance. FIAT has to once again brought cars to market under their own brand name in the United States.
Currently, FIAT is known for FIAT 500 and the multiple variations of that platform. The company also owns a controlling interest in Alfa Romeo and sports car makers Ferrari. Alfa Romeo is also scheduled to resume importing cars to the United States in the near future.
FIAT dates all the way back to 1899, when company founder Giovanni Agnelli released the 3 ½ CV. From that launch point, FIAT quickly branched out into trucks and aircraft, and also began to demonstrate its willingness to export not only cars overseas, but also to set up business operations in foreign countries. FIAT grew to dominate the Italian car market, and by the end of World War I the company had strongly embraced modern industrial production techniques, a fact that saved them during the subsequent upheavals of the Mussolini regime and the war that followed.
In the decade that followed World War II, FIAT was able to reconstruct its manufacturing facilities and take advantage of the growing demand for automobiles that swept across Europe and the rest of the world in the 1950’s. Increased problems with labor caused the company to mechanize its assembly lines by the end of the 1970’s, and FIAT also consolidated their influence over Italian automakers by acquiring Ferrari. FIAT would celebrate the 1980’s with the release of the Panda and the Tipo, two vehicles which would serve as the company’s flagships of economy and affordability.
Modern Day FIAT
FIAT withdrew from direct participation in the North American market in 1984, after seeing their market share erode due to driver’s choosing trucks and minivans over standard passenger cars. The company purchased Alfa Romeo, then Maserati, in short order coming to represent the majority of Italian automobile companies. After a period of muddled leadership, FIAT emerged stronger under new CEO Sergio Marchionne. The decision to branch out into small vans as well as invest in engine technologies that saw decreased emissions along with better fuel economy went hand in hand with a successful run of new product introductions to help build a new image for FIAT. The Italian automaker even decided to produce a sport-utility vehicle in order to capture a larger segment of the market, which had seen FIAT’s influence shrink over the past 15 years. The company received a huge infusion in cash from former partners General Motors, and has begun to develop vehicles to be sold in the United States under both the FIAT and Alfa Romeo monikers. Used FIAT cars are comprised of sub-compact automobiles.