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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Inside the Fiat 500 factory...

While we're waiting for the North American version of the Fiat 500 to begin rolling off the assembly line in Toluca, Mexico, let's take a look at where the European Fiat 500 is made.

The Euro Fiat 500 is manufactured at the Fiat Auto Poland factory, located in the Polish city of Tychy. One of the most modern in the world, the Tychy factory has won numerous prestigious awards. Notably in September 1996, Fiat Auto Poland became the first automotive company in Europe to win the ISO 9001 Quality Assurance Certificate.

More recently, in 2007, Fiat Auto Poland joined the select group of "World Class Manufacturing” organizations, that is companies recognized with the best production systems in the world. WCM means a comprehensive program of reconfiguring production management systems, a program based on fundamental principles of eliminating losses and waste in every shape or form. WCM draws on the best time-tested methods and tools supported by commitment and involvement of the entire staff and management in the process.

Here's a summary of awards won by Fiat Auto Poland:

- ISO 9001 Quality Assurance Certificate in 1996
- ISO 14001 Environmental Management System certification for the Body Plant in Tychy in 1999
- ISO 9001:2000 and PN-N-18001 in 2002
- The Polish Quality Award in 2004
- FAP was recognized for excellence in 2005 in the European Quality Award Competition, the
first Polish company awarded
- Bronze Level Award for adherence to WCM standards in 2007
- The top place for Fiat Panda in the category of city cars in ADAC’s 2008 reliability
- ‘Auto Lider 2008’ special award for FAP for its long-standing contribution to the
development of Polish automotive industry and economy
- Silver Level Award in 2009 from the WCM audit

(It should be noted that Chrysler has adopted Fiat's World Class Manufacturing techniques and the plant in Mexico slated to build the North American Fiat 500 is well on its way to achieving WCM status.)

Fiat Auto Poland Factory, Tychy, Poland

The plant in Tychy employs 6,422 people and one car rolls off its lines every 35 seconds translating to a daily production of over 1,500 cars. In 2009, the factory produced 605,797 automobiles. It covers 1,365,259 square meters in total area with 426,180 square meters of usable area.

Take a tour of the Tychy factory:

The Welding Shop

The Welding Shop is the most automated department in the factory with 715 robots on the Panda and Fiat 500 lines.

This is where individual components are mounted together to form the body and where the car gets its definite form.

After the welding shop, bolt on body panels are installed. Here the tailgate has just been installed.

After the tailgate is installed, doors are next. The doors will be removed once the body is painted to allow easier access.

Hood is installed and alignment checked with optical equipment.

Body ready for priming and sealing.

The Paint Shop

This video shows the automated paint process. Note this video is from the Mirafiore factory, Tychy uses a similar process.

Primed and sealed, this Fiat 500 is headed towards the Paint Shop.

The Paint Shop is considered one of the most advanced industrial installations of this type in Europe with extensive automation guaranteeing high quality standards. Using water-based paint and very low levels of solvent, it is a state of the art, environmentally friendly, facility.

Base coat and...

...clear coat applied.

Here, the body undergoes phosphate coating, cathaphoresis, and sealing, gets a primer coat, metallic or pastel base coat, and finally a clear coat. The paint shop is fully environment-controlled.

Paint inspection

Paint is applied using an electrostatic sprayer. This technology enables the paint particles to be charged, meaning that, following the spraying carried out by means of the 30,000 rpm rotation of the turbine cup, they are attracted to the sheet metal of the body. By using the electrostatic application technology, the efficiency of transfer of the product increases from approximately 35 percent to more than 80 percent. The main advantages are excellent paint coverage and less paint waste while still achieving the required application thicknesses.

The paint is looked over...

by skilled craftspeople...

...and perfected.

With the paint work done, the body is loaded onto an overhead conveyor to be sent over to the Assembly Plant.

The Assembly Plant

The doors are removed and protective coverings installed to protect the new paint.

The Assembly Plant is where individual trim components are fitted, such as dashboard, driveline, suspension, front end, seats, radiator, fan,tanks, etc.

The Fiat 500 factory is organized, clean, bright and airy. World Class Manufacturing is about eliminating waste, making work more efficient and encouraging workers to come up with solutions to achieve these goals.

Dashboard about to be installed. Traditionally a very awkward job, now made easier through automation.

Dashboard easily guided into place.

The drivetrain and suspension ready to be installed. Note the assemblies are raised.... allow a more comfortable position for the workers.

The front radiator support for the Fiat 500 is detachable, making the engine very accessible.

After the front end is installed, next come the wheel and tire assemblies. The Fiat 500 Abarth is also made in Tychy.

Fluids are filled

Meanwhile, the doors, which were removed after painting to facilitate access to the interior, have received their components and are ready...

It takes 16 ”process” hours for the Tychy plant to transform rolls of sheet metal into a finished car. be installed.

Final detail inspections.

However, it is only a theoretical cycle as it does not include all the necessary logistics and preparatory operations.

More inspections and...


The finished car undergoes strict and thorough testing and inspection before it is turned over to marketing to assure the highest possible quality.

The Fiat 500 on the dynamometer at the factory.

Some sub-assemblies arrive at the plant as finished products ready to be mounted. Therefore, the plant can turn out about 880 Fiat Panda, 570 Fiat 500 and 70 Fiat Seicento cars a day.

Sources:Fiat Group Press, Fiat Auto Poland,


Anonymous said...

You are my new many beautiful photos, so many lovely videos... get those 500s to the States...STAT. :)

And please mention we need the 2 cylinder version also...and the EV...I want that EV model horribly.

Gavin said...

Hi Gavin,

Wow, thanks for that! But really I'm just a car enthusiast like most of you that stop by here:)

I'm with you, I really dig the different powertrains. The EV is in the pipeline, TwinAir and MultiJet II and Hybrid, in my opinion, a matter of time.

Gavin, check out Fiat USA's Facebook page and let them know what you think!

The neat thing about Fiat and the 500 is there is always something interesting to learn about. When I find out something new, I love to share it, so stick around 'cause it's going to get really busy here soon...

Thanks again Gavin,
Best regards, Chris

Rusty said...

Question... So Euro-spec Fiat and Abarth 500's have been on sale in mexico for a while now? I think I saw a comment in your Abarth HP post that said this, but I was a bit confused because I thought mexico would be included in the new NA spec 500? said...

Hi Rusty,

The Fiat 500 that is sold in Mexico and South America is the current Euro version. The Abarth is not sold there as far as I know.

Once production starts at Toluca, the importation from Europe should be phased out.

It will be interesting to see what countries get the Mexican made 500...

Best regards, Chris

Genghis Khan said...

I wonder if my 34 inches and 170 lbs Great Dane will be able to fit on the passenger side of cinquecento?

Anonymous said...

I sat in one at the SF Auto show, and there is lots of room up front. If doggy doesn't mind riding in back, he'll have a really nice den set up back there. I say Woof Woof Woof!

Anonymous said...

My respect;

Your car is good!