20 interesting facts about FIAT

FIAT is perhaps one of the most resilient companies in the world of automobiles. The famous car manufacturer is a true embodiment of Italian sanguinity: the company moves forward despite all local setbacks, producing one successful car after another. So, let’s get acquainted closer with one of the oldest companies of the global automotive industry. FIAT history in 20 facts.

1. In 1899, a group of investors, led by Giovanni Agnelli, founded the company under the name of “Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino” in the city of Turin, Italy. As you may have guessed, the name FIAT is an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino. In addition, the word “fiat” means “so be it” in Latin. Notably, the company is still controlled by the Agnelli family to this day.

2. The very first vehicle, produced by the Italian automaker was the humble 2-cylinder 3.5 hp Fiat Corso Dante 35 (3.5 PS).

3. The very first production facility of the famous Italian company was opened on the Corso Dante (Dante Street), in the city of Turin, in 1900. The first FIAT factory employed 150 workers and produced 24 vehicles a year, including the vehicles, powered by a 3/12 h/p engine. Early FIAT models looked nothing like modern automobiles; they highly resembled a horse-drawn carriage. Despite their design was not the most original one, those vehicles still caused amazement on the Italian streets, perhaps because horseless carriage was still a relatively new thing.

4. 1902 was a very successful year for the company. Enrico, one of the leading engineers of FIAT, designed a vehicle, powered by a 4-cylinder 4.2 liters engine, which was very advanced for its time. Meanwhile, Giovanni Agnelli achieved a victory in the race Giro d’Italia Automobilistico, making a solid foundation for the future motorsports victories.

5. In 1906, the Italian automaker made a few changes, making it more like a company we know now. Most noticeably, the company got rid of dots in its official name, which was changed from F.I.A.T. to FIAT. In addition, the Italian automaker started to work on a new 4-passanger car, which was capable to carry up to 100 kg of baggage. In principal, the car had a modern layout, which is used on vehicles to this day.

6. In 1910, FIAT was ready to start its expansion to foreign markets. In 1908, the company created its USA division under the name of Fiat Automobile Co. In 1909, Italian automaker established a production facility in the state of New York, USA, which was the first FIAT factory, built on the North American continent. At the same time, Italian car manufacturer started to export its vehicles to France, Austria, Great Britain, Russia and Australia.

7. 1936 was a landmark year for FIAT. It was a year, when the Italian company launched one of its most recognizable model, the legendary Fiat Topolino. This new mini car was powered by a 0.6 liter 3 hp engine and could reach the top speed of 85 km/h. It was the first mass-produced automobile in Italy, which became the first car for many Italians.

8. In 1938, FIAT proved that it was capable of producing prestigious models by releasing the luxurious limousine Fiat 2800. While this release showed, the company could produce more diverse automobiles, the model itself was not very successful due to an unstable market and economic conditions before the outbreak of World War II.

9. The period, following the end of World War II, was quite hard for FIAT. Production facilities in Italy were badly damaged during the war. Moreover, the founder and long-time president of company, Senator Giovanni Agnelli passed away in 1945 and the post was given to Vittorio Valletta. It was not clear, what market segment to prioritize or what vehicles to produce during this unstable period. The company had experience in producing economy cars before, so the new president made a decision to produce an updated version of the city car Fiat 500 Topolino. This decision proved to be a good one, since economy cars were in high demand in the post-war Europe. Notably, it was the first serial car to be equipped with heating and ventilation system.

10. FIAT was responsible for many technological advancements of its time. The Fiat 600 Multipla, presented in 1956, was the first minivan. In 1951, the company introduced another interesting model, the Fiat Campagnola. The vehicle became the first SUV with an integral body frame.

11. In 1966, after the appointment of Vittorio Valletta, FIAT signed a contract of technological cooperation with the USSR. According to that contract, the Italian automaker helped to establish several assembly factories for production of Fiat 124, also known as VAZ-2101 in the USSR.

12. In 1969, the FIAT group took control of another Italian automaker Lancia, founded by Vincenzo Lancia in 1906. In 1979, the FIAT holding took control over Autobianchi and Ferrari, later followed by AlfaHYPERLINK “” HYPERLINK “”Romeo and Maserati. By those acquisitions, FIAT de-facto monopolized the Italian automobile market. Moreover, the company also took control over several large two-wheeled motor vehicles manufacturers, including Gilera, Piaggio and Vespa.

13. FIAT diesel engines are often used by other automobile manufacturers, including Alfa Romeo, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Citroen, Iveco, Lancia, Opel, Peugeot, Saab and Suzuki.

14. FIAT assembly factories can be found all over the world. The largest FIAT factory outside Italy is based in Brazil. Other major facilities are based in Argentine and Poland. Traditionally, the Italian automaker licenses its products throughout the world, regardless political or cultural differences. There are joint venture companies in France, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa and China.

15. The brand new Fiat 500 was presented to the public exactly 50 years after the arrival of the legendary Fiat Cinquecento.

16. It took the company only 31 months in total, to produce 500.000 Fiat 500 vehicles. The company created the unique show car, based on Fiat 500, to celebrate this achievement. The car was decorated with a thousand photographs of FIAT aficionados, celebrities and prominent owners of FIAT, who made some kind of personal contribution to its success.
17. FIAT holds a record among automakers for the number of times its models won prestigious awards European Car of the Year.

18. FIAT constructors and engineers are responsible for creation of the 1.3-litre V16 Multijet engine, which is one of the most successful engine in the market. This diesel engine rightfully earned the title Engine of the Year.

19. After the bankruptcy of the well-known American concern Chrysler in May 2009, FIAT have not missed a golden opportunity to acquire the majority of the company’s stock. Few years later, in early 2014, the Italian company took full control over Chrysler. The transaction cost of this acquisition was 3.65 billion dollars.

20. FIAT has an interesting naming convention for its commercial vans. The famous automaker have a distinct tradition of naming is models after antique Italian coins, like Doblo, Fiorino and Ducato. In 2011, an expert jury, consisting of leading specialist journalists, had given the title Van of the Year to Fiat Dobolo.

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