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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fiat: 100 Plus Years of Leadership

Fiat and the 500

Established in 1899, Fiat is one of the pioneering founders of the Automobile industry.

While some car companies started off making bicycles or repairing lawn mowers, Fiat scientists, engineers and designers have, since the beginning, been pioneering advancements in a variety of fields that include passenger cars, metallurgy, commercial vehicles, tractors, railroad equipment, aerospace and nuclear energy.

The history of Fiat is one to be proud of. Come along as we take a look at some of the milestones that have helped shape the 20th century and beyond with the help of Fiat Group Press and other sources.1

Fiat - 1899 thru 1910

The Fiat company dates back to 1899 and, over the next 110 years, produced many historic, innovative, and often brilliant automotive designs. Besides autos, the company would branch out and become a leader in many different sectors. Throughout the century and beyond, Fiat would consistently be Italy's largest employer and conscious of its social obligation towards society.

Fiat Logo History

The first Fiat cars came with a name plate stamped with the company's full name, Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino (or Italian Automobile Factory of Turin). Later, cars had a badge with the initials F.I.A.T. on them. People contracted the letters into a pronounceable word. In 1906, the F.I.A.T. company trademarked the name "Fiat," however the company remained Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino until 1918 when it underwent a reorganization and became Fiat, Societa per Azioni (Fiat Spa or Fiat Inc).3

Of the original nine founders of Fiat, one person, Giovanni Agnelli, emerges as the most prominent leader. He was elected Managing Director in 1902 and became the largest shareholder. The Agnelli family has held a controlling interest in the company since then.

1899: On July 11th, Società Anonima Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino – F.I.A.T. is incorporated. The first car built is called the 4 HP.

1900: The first factory located on Corso Dante in Torino is opened and produces 24 cars a year. In July of this year, Fiat enters a race with a 2-cylinder, 6 HP prototype driven by Vincenzo Lancia and takes a class win, with an average of 29.2 MPH over the 139.8-mile course.2 It was the start of the company's illustrious racing heritage.

1901 The factory churns out 73 cars this year, with a six-model range that includes front engined and racing cars.8

Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino – F.I.A.T.

1902: Giovanni Agnelli becomes Managing Director.

1903: the company is listed on the stock exchange and begins producing its first vehicles for goods transport. Fiat begins exporting cars to France, England and the US.

4 hp Fiat 28 Corsa
4 hp Fiat 28 Corsa at the 1907 Targa Florio

1905: Louis Chevrolet races his Fiat at the Vanderbilt Cup Race on Long Island.

1906: Out of 8 million lire in annual sales, export sales reach 6 million lire. Auto production is expanded by adding the 8, 10, 12, 24, 60, 100, and 130 HP models. The company also begins making trucks, buses, and trams. Giovanni Agnelli sets up the first Italian factory for ball bearings, RIV, at Villar Perosa. The F.I.A.T. company trademarks the name "Fiat."

1907: Fiat builds its first marine engine, a diesel-fueled, four-cylinder unit. This year, the French Grand Prix, Targa Florio, and Emperor's Cup in Germany are won. The Fiat 130 HP Grand Prix racing car debuts and its engine incorporates numerous innovations for its time, including an oversquare bore greater than the stroke, overhead valves, hemispherical combustion chambers, and centrally located spark plugs.

1908: The company begins the manufacture of aircraft engines. The first developed is the 50hp SA 8/75, an overhead valve, air-cooled V8, which integrates the experience gained in auto racing. The company incorporates in the United States, and a factory in Poughkeepsie, New York, begins being built. 7

Fiat 1910 - 1920

The outbreak of World War I has a significant impact on the industrial activity of Fiat as it is converted to support the country’s military effort. Despite that, notable economic and technological progress continues.

1910: six new models are launched: the 12-15 HP, 15-20 HP, 20-30 HP, 30-45 HP and the Type 5 and Type 6. Fiat builds its first submarine engine. The Fiat Motor Factory of Poughkeepsie, New York opens.  Prestigious models are produced that range in price between $4500 and $5500. A Ford Model T from 1908 costs $825. 7

Fiat S76
The Fiat S76 was timed at 180 MPH on a Long Island track in April, 1912.3,14,15 The 28 liter, 300 HP 4 cylinder engine still holds the record of being the largest automotive engine ever made.

1911-1914: Fiat cars win a number of international races, such as the American Grand Prize, the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and the Gothenburg-Stockholm Winter Cup. Fiat's first small displacement mass produced car, the Fiat Zero, is created.

1914: as part of the war effort, almost 20,000 units of the 18BL lorry are produced and, in the years following, various aircraft engines. Fiat builds a marine engine that tops 5,000 horsepower.

Fiat Zero
The 1912 Fiat Zero was to Italy what the Ford Model T was to America, except the Fiat was more advanced with a suspension and drivetrain that had more in common with the 1928 Ford Model A. It was one of the first European cars fitted with electrical lighting as standard equipment.

1915-1917: Construction begins on the Lingotto factory, The 5-story, over 1640 foot long structure has a surface area of approximately 1.6 million square feet.  Lingotto was the largest car factory  in Europe at the time. The Group enters the steel and railway sectors.

1916: After successfully mass-producing airplane engines over the last eight years, the company enters airplane manufacturing and Società Italiana Aviazione is founded. Fiat employment reaches over 9400 workers.

1917: Fiat builds an airplane that climbs to over 20,000 feet.

1918: Production rises to 65,542 units.8 Società Italiana Aviazione is renamed Fiat Aviazione.

1919: Immediately following the war, Fiat comes out with the 501 “economy”, 505 and 510, as well as its first tractor, the 702. The company reorganizes and changes its name to Fiat, Societa per Azioni (Fiat Spa or Fiat Inc).

Fiat 1920-1930

Post-war Italy is marked by intense political and social conflict and poor economic conditions. The Company weathers the storm with rigorous attention to cost control. By 1923, times improved, and the Lingotto factory was opened, ushering in streamlined assembly line production.

Giovanni Agnelli
Giovanni Agnelli

1920: Giovanni Agnelli becomes Chairman of Fiat. Fiat's first double overhead cam (DOHC) engine is installed in the Fiat 801/402 race car.

1922:  The AL biplane, Fiat’s first civil aviation aircraft, takes its maiden flight. Fiat builds an airplane that sets a new world record at 209 MPH. The same year, the company establishes Grandi Motori for the construction of marine engines.  

Fiat builds its first diesel-electric locomotive. 

1923: The Lingotto plant is inaugurated on May 22, 1923.  Freshly built cars were evaluated on the test track built into the  factory's roof which had a length of  approximately 1.5 kilometers with banked curves designed for speeds of around 90 kmh.  

1924: Fiat SB4 Mefistofele sets a Land Speed Record of 145.89mph /234.98 kmh. The fastest land speed record ever on a public road.

1925: The Fiat 509 combines the economy of a small car with the capability of a medium sized car. The engine was a 1 liter, single overhead cam design.

1927: Fiat patents a new front strut suspension that consists of a strut/shock with concentric spring, lower "A" arm and separate anti-roll bar. Twenty years later, Earle S. MacPherson re-invents it.

1924 Fiat 519 "SuperFiat"
1924 Fiat 519 "SuperFiat"

1921-1929: the decade sees the release of many models, including launch of the SuperFiat, the 519, a six cylinder luxury car, the 503 and the 509. In 1927, the 520 is offered in left-hand drive and in 1928, aluminum cylinder heads are adopted on production model cars, representing a world first

1929 sees the arrival of the economical 514 and the elegant 525. The 1014 van is also launched: with six wheels, dual transmission and articulated chassis, this vehicle is unbeatable off road.  In 1928, Dante Giacosa is hired to work at SPA, a Fiat subsidiary. Giacosa would rise to become Fiat's Director of Engineering and be responsible for many legendary models through 1970. These include the (1936) Topolino, (1957) 500, (1964) 850 and Primula, (1966) 124 and (1969) 128 models.

Fiat 1930-1940

In the early 1930s, Fiat saw considerable expansion in France, Spain, Poland, and the USSR. Many groundbreaking and memorable cars are introduced, as well as technologies explored.

1930:  The arrival of the “Littorina”, the world’s first rail car.

1931: Front-wheel-drive prototype "Tipo 500" designed.4

1932:  The 700C tractor is launched.

1935 Fiat 1500
The aerodynamic Fiat 1500 from 1935. Notice how the wheels are placed at the outer ends of the car. This contributed to the excellent handling the Fiat 1500 was known for.

1930-1935: Fiat releases 15 more models. Some are to become milestones in automobile history: the popular 508 Balilla, the deluxe 518 and 527 Ardita,  and the 1100 “Musone”. The aerodynamic 1500 is also introduced and is the first Fiat with independent suspension on the front wheels,  rack-and-pinion steering and aluminium brake drums.

Two bits of interesting trivia is the engine designed for the Fiat 1100 would have a production run from 1934 through 1969, and the 4.25 x 15 inch tire size is created for the Fiat 500 Topolino.4

Macchi-Castoldi M.C.72
Record breaking Macchi MC 72

1934: Francesco Agello reaches 709.209 kilometers per hour in a Macchi-Castoldi M.C.72 powered by a Fiat AS6 engine, setting a world record for propeller-driven seaplanes that remains unbeaten.

1935 Fiat 500 Topolino
1935 Fiat 500 Topolino

1936:  The Fiat 500 is launched on June 15, 1936. The smallest car in the world to be put into mass production (569 cc) sold for 8.900 lire. It had a top speed of 85 km/h, with room for two people and 50 kg of luggage, weighed 535 kg and consumed 6 litres of fuel every 100 km. The car is given the nickname: "Topolino" or "Little Mouse". Topolino is the Italian name for Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse.4

1937: Construction begins on the Mirafiori plant. It is inaugurated two years later, introducing the most advanced working methods to Italy.

1938: First to use turbocharger on diesel truck engines. 2 500X transverse mounted, four-cylinder front-wheel drive engine powertrain designed for small economy car created.4  

Fiat 1940-1950

With Italy's entry into World War II, Fiat has to convert to military production. As a result, the Company dramatically reduces the production of cars while the output of trucks is multiplied five-times. Armored vehicles, airplanes, and marine engines are also produced.  

1940: the Fiat 016 locomotive exceeds 160 kilometers per hour, breaking the world speed record in the diesel engine category.

Fiat 500 Topolino testing

1942: launch of the 700D wheeled tractor and the model “50”, the first diesel-powered heavy crawler. The latter is hidden underground for fear of requisition by the Germans. It is recovered at the end of the war and mass production begins.

1943:  Fiat G.55 Centauro. Considered by some the best axis fighter plane of WWII.

1945-1947: Senator Agnelli dies on December 16, 1945 and Vittorio Valletta becomes chairman. Large-scale production of cars resumes, with models such as the 500B berlinetta and estate, the refreshed 1100 and 1500, and the sporty 1100S. Alongside these are trucks and buses, high-power tractors, rail cars, airplanes and large marine engines.

1945: Fiat acquires the Weber Carburetor Company of Bologna.  The design of the Fiat 1400, Europe's first post-war car, is completed at the end of the year. The model will go into production in 1950.4

1947: Fiat 100E1 small car prototype built featuring a transverse mounted, 4-cylinder overhead cam engine with front wheel drive with separate transmission and engine compartments for easier servicing (unlike MINI which shares the same crankcase and oil with the transmission gears and is more difficult to service).5

Fiat 1100E
Fiat 1100E 1949-1953

1949: the number of employees tops 71,000 and the company returns to bottom line growth.

Fiat 1950-1960

1950s Italy experiences an economic boom. The car industry is one of the leading drivers of this intense growth: one car for every 96 residents in 1949 became one for every 28 in 1958, and one for every 11 by 1963. Fiat now has more than 85,000 employees, and car production has grown six times over the decade.

Fiat 1400
Fiat 1400

1950: Fiat 1400 debuts.

1951: the transatlantic liner Giulio Cesare, powered by a Fiat engine, enters service and Italy’s first jet, the Fiat G.80, takes flight.

Fiat 8V
Fiat 8V from 1952

1952: The high-performance 8V sports car reaches 200 kilometers per hour and the 7002 model helicopter is presented. The same year, production begins on the 682N lorry which goes on to be produced for more than a quarter of a century and becomes a milestone in transport history.

1953: launch of the 1400 diesel, Italy’s first diesel-powered passenger car.

1954: Fiat builds an experimental turbine powered car.

Fiat 600
Fiat 600 from 1955

1955: arrival of the popular 600, the first Fiat rear-engined, rear-wheel drive passenger car. Impresit, a company specialized in civil engineering founded in 1929, constructs roads, tunnels, bridges and dams, such as the Kariba dam on the Zambesi river. Fiat begins manufacturing industrial gas turbines.

Fiat G91
Fiat G91 fighter jet

1956:  The Fiat G.91 is selected as tactical fighter for NATO.

Fiat Nuova 500

1957: The Nuova Fiat 500 debuts on July 4, 1957. The car would make automobile ownership a reality for millions in Italy and around the world. Over 3.5 million would be made by the time production ended in 1975. The Autobianchi Bianchina is also launched.

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Fiat 1960-1970

In Italy, the 1960s begins with a prevailing spirit of optimism, helped by significant economic growth. The Company enjoys a substantial increase in production volumes: cars constructed yearly go from 425,000 to 1,741,000; trucks from 19,000 to 64,800; tractors from 22,637 to 50,558; earth movers from 3,000 to 6,255. The number of Fiat employees doubles to almost 171,000. Fiat becomes a leader in nuclear energy and builds and installs three nuclear power plants during the decade. 

Many noteworthy and significant models are introduced, including the Autobianchi Primula, and the popular 850, 124 and 128 series.. 

In 1966, the Company surpasses Volkswagen to become the 4th largest carmaker in the world.12

1963: Fiat 9012 S marine engine goes into production, at the time, the worlds most powerful diesel engine with 32,500 horsepower.

Fiat 850 Sedan

1964: Launch of the popular Fiat 850 series. A coupe, spider and cargo van would follow.

Autobianchi Primula

Innovative Autobianchi Primula debuts featuring a transverse 4 cylinder, front-wheel-drive powertrain, rack and pinion steering, 4-wheel disc brakes and a transmission separate from its engine making servicing much easier than its competition.

Fiat 124 Spider

1966: Giovanni Agnelli, grandson of the founder, becomes Chairman. A major agreement is signed for construction of the Vaz plant in Togliattigrad, Russia, which will produce two thousand Zigulì passenger cars a day. Fiat becomes the 4th largest car maker in the world.12

Fiat 124 series is introduced and becomes a worldwide best seller, setting the standard in just about every category including performance, ride, handling and safety. A conventional car, with thoroughly modern specs, the car would spawn numerous models including the 124 Sport Coupe, considered the creator of the "super coupe" category6 and the iconic 124 Sport Spider.

Gianni Agnelli

Gianni Agnelli at the 1967 Fiat 124 Car of the Year award ceremony

1967: Vittorio Valletta dies. Production begins at the Rivalta plant. Fiat takes a majority stake in Magneti Marelli. The 124 is named “Car of the Year” and the Fiat Dino Coupé is launched complete with a Ferrari designed engine refined by Fiat for series production.

Ferrari 365 GTB4
Ferrari 365 GTB4*

1969: the company acquires Lancia and purchases a 50% interest in Sefac-Ferrari. The same year, Fiat Ferroviaria designs and produces the Pendolino, the world’s first tilting train.

Fiat 128 Rally
Fiat 128 Rally. The Fiat 128 was the first mass produced front wheel drive car with a transverse overhead cam engine, thermostatically controlled cooling fan, rack and pinion steering, strut front suspension and separate transaxle. It set the pattern for the modern front wheel drive sedan.

Fiat 128 is introduced, building upon Fiats prototype research starting in the 1930s and the revolutionary Autobianchi Primula. Nearly all front-wheel-drive sedans from then on will pattern themselves off of the 128.

Fiat 130 Sedan

Other models introduced this year were the 130 luxury sedan, the Autobianchi A112 and Fiat Dino 2400. The smooth and refined single-overhead cam V6 in the 130 sedan would set the pattern for other makers of European luxury sedans that followed.

Fiat 1970-1980

Toward the end of the 1960s and throughout the 70s, Italy suffers through a long period of social and economic turmoil. The fuel crises of 1973 and 1979 further exacerbate the economic downturn and rampant inflation. Fiat, Italy's largest employer, is hit hard by union unrest which last most of the decade. It is said that over 100,000 Fiats sent to the United States during this time were sabotaged by union activists. As a result, a 3-hour Pre-Delivery Inspection is implemented for new cars, and Fiat becomes the industry leader and pioneer of robotic car assembly. 

Despite severe labor issues and a poor economy, Fiat invests heavily in southern Italy, constructing plants in Cassino, Termoli, Termini Imerese, Brindisi, Lecce, Bari, Vasto, and Sulmona.

 Fiat SpA starts decentralizing its operations, becoming a holding company and spinning off its many businesses into independent companies. Fiat Macchine Movimento Terra, Fiat Engineering, and Iveco are among the first companies to be launched. Fiat Auto is formed in 1979 and incorporates the Fiat, Lancia, Autobianchi, and Ferrari brands.

Fiats sales in the United States double between 1970 and 1972, making Fiat the fourth-largest-selling import in the country.13 

Fiat sales in the US hit 100,000 in 1975. The decade sees Fiat becoming the third-largest car company in the world. 

1970: the 128, Fiat’s first front-wheel drive car, is named “Car of the Year”. Fiat patents the first functional Variable Valve Timing system.

Fiat 127

1971: Debut of the successful 127 model that goes on the following year to win the “Car of the Year” award. The legendary sports brand Abarth becomes part of the Fiat Group.

Lancia Stratos
Lancia Stratos - World Champion

1972:The company employs nearly 200,000 people in 1972. 1.68 million cars are produced. 625K are exported and an additional 550K are manufactured or assembled in other countries outside of Italy. In Europe, Fiat is the largest selling manufacturer and 18% of all cars sold in 1972 were Fiats. In the USSR, the Togliattigrad factory produces 600K cars a year based on the Fiat 124.8 There are 12,000 Fiat service centers world-wide, 650 of which are located in the United States. 

Lancia begins production of the Beta, which is followed in subsequent years by the Stratos, Gamma and Delta. The same year, Lancia Stratos wins the World Rally Constructors’ Championship and takes the title again in 1974, 1975 and 1976. Fiat takes first in 1977 and 1978 with the Fiat 131 Abarth.

1975: Ferrari wins the Formula 1 World Championship. This triumph is repeated in 1977 and 1979.
The Fiat X1/9 is selected "Best Sports Car Under $5500" by Road&Track in their "Ten Best Cars for a Changing World". Fiat sales in the US reach 100,511.

1976: Fiat builds a full-size wind tunnel in Orbassano, Turin, Italy. This is four years before the first American car manufacturer, GM, who built their wind tunnel in 1980.

First automotive use of laser welding for the welding of transmission components.

Fiat 131 Abarth Rally
Fiat 131 Abarth - World Champion
In its four-year racing career, the Fiat 131 Abarth won 3 constructor world titles, 2 drivers titles, and 18 World Rally Championship races.
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1978: Centro Ricerche Fiat is founded. This division would spearhead development of numerous innovations and world's firsts used throughout the company and beyond to other manufacturers. CRF would file nearly 3,000 patents during its first 30 years of being.10

1978 Fiat Ritmo / Strada

1978: The innovative car chassis assembly system, “Robogate”, makes its debut at various Fiat plants. The Fiat Ritmo/Strada is the first car to be built by robots. The car just narrowly misses being voted European "Car of The Year".

New factories are constructed in Italy and Brazil. Comau and Teksid are established. Comau would eventually become the world leader in robotic assembly, and Teksid, the world leader in metal castings. Construction of the Total Energy Module (TOTEM), the first biogas-fueled co-generation unit for the independent production of electricity.

1979: Fiat Auto grows and eventually brings together the Fiat, Lancia, Autobianchi and Ferrari brands.

Fiat 1980-1990

In the Eighties, the industrial world experienced profound changes linked to electronics and new materials development. Attention to the environment also increases, and Fiat demonstrates its sensitivity by creating electric and natural gas vehicles and setting up the Fare project to recycle cars destined for demolition.

1980: launch of the Panda, which quickly becomes a key player in the economy car segment. Alfa Romeo is the first manufacturer to use a variable valve timing system in production cars. Development of Inertia Generator. Start of the study of an innovative engine starting system that makes it possible to automatically switch off and restart the engine during stop-and-go traffic, with more than 13% reduction in fuel consumption. The predecessor of Start-n-Stop technology.10

Fiat Uno
Fiat Uno

1983: at Cape Canaveral in Florida, Fiat Auto presents the new Uno, a symbol of innovation and technological rebirth for company. It goes on to win the “Car of the Year” award in 1984.

Fluid Physics Module, a device ordered by the European Space Body to conduct behavioral experiments on fluids in a gravity-free environment for NASA and ESA shuttle missions

1985: production begins on the innovative FIRE (Fully Integrated and Robotized Engine). The evolution of the engine, with MultiAir engine management, will be used in the 2012 Fiat 500 and 500 Abarth sold in North America. Comau developes the first laser robots used for automobile assembly.

1986: Alfa Romeo becomes part of the Group.

1987: the world’s first direct-injection diesel engine for passenger cars is developed.
World first use of automatic robot assembly of the windshield on assembly line at the Cassino Factory.10

Ferrari 288 GTO
Ferrari 288 GTO*

1988: the state-of-the-art research center Elasis is established at the Group’s initiative. The same year, the Fiat Tipo is named “Car of the Year”. Other cars to achieve success during the decade are the Fiat Regata and Croma, the Lancia Delta, Thema and Y10, the Alfa Romeo 164, and the Ferrari GTO, Testarossa and F40, as well as the commercial vehicles Fiorino and Ducato. ​The Croma turbo Diesel is the first car in the world to have a direct injection diesel engine fitted as standard.10

Anthropomorphic robot for continuous laser welding on three-dimensional components made of super-alloy, also applied to Space Shuttle in partnership with Rockwell International.

1989:Fiat Aviazione became Fiat Avio S.p.A.

Fiat 1990-2000

In reaction to increasingly intense international competition, the Fiat Group adopts a multi-track strategy: on one side, it invests in product and procedural innovation and the search for new markets outside Europe with high growth potential, and on the other, it implements a plan for cost containment and internal reorganization.

Panda Elettra

1990: the Panda Elettra is the first mass-produced electric vehicle.11

Lancia Delta HF
Lancia Delta HF - 6 Times World Rally Champion 1987-1992. Lancia Delta HF Integrale shown.

1991: First development and application of the Common Rail diesel engine for automotive use.10

1992: Lancia Delta HF retires from racing with 46 World Rally Championship victories and a record six times constructors' championship titles from 1987 to 1992.

1993: The Company acquires the prestigious automaker Maserati and also introduces Progetto Autonomy to facilitate mobility for the disabled.

1995, 1996 & 1998: the Fiat Punto, Fiat Bravo-Brava and then the Alfa Romeo 156 are named “Car of the Year”.

Alfa Romeo 156 GTA
Alfa Romeo 156 GTA

1997: The Alfa Romeo 156 is awarded the European Car of the Year award. Bipower Fiat Marea introduced, the first Fiat vehicle with standard bi-power: natural gas and petrol.10

1998: First use of Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) on heavy-duty engines.2  The Fiat Multipla, Lancia Lybra and new Punto come onto the market. The Ariane 5 European space rocket lifts off with solid rocket booster provided by Fiat Avio. Also developed for the Arian 5 is the liquid oxygen turbopumps used in the rocket's first stage.9

1999: the world’s first automated manual transmission (Selespeed) goes into mass production. During the same year, CNH-Case New Holland is formed to create a leading global player in agricultural and construction equipment.

Fiat 2000-2001

The start of the new decade brings with it great challenges. In 2002, the company suffered losses of $3.5 billion, which were made worse by the passing of its patriarch, Gianni Agnelli, in the following year. Umberto, Gianni's brother, took over but dies tragically a year later, although managing to bring the losses down to $1.5 billion before passing. In 2004, Sergio Marchionne took over and saved the company from bankruptcy, resulting in a net profit of $1.33 billion in 2005. Two years later, the company recorded its highest profits in its 108-year history.

A refocus on the automotive sector has all brands launch new models: Fiat introduced a restyled Punto, the new Idea, the Bravo, and relaunched the iconic Fiat 500 in 2007.  

Alfa Romeo debuts the 159, 166, MiTo, and Giulietta. And for its 100th anniversary, Lancia launches the new Ypsilon. From Ferrari, production begins on the innovative Ferrari F430 and 599 GTB Fiorano; and Maserati comes out with the desirable GranSport and GranTurismo coupés.

Alfa Romeo 147 GTA
Alfa Romeo 147 GTA

2000: an industrial alliance is formed with General Motors that would be dissolved in 2005. Alfa Romeo brings out the 147 which is elected “European Car of the Year” the following year. The Alfa Romeo 2.5-litre V6 is awarded with the International Engine of the Year. Uniair: First system for electronic control of valve movements that permits optimisation of combustion, fuel economy and emissions. Predecessor of MultiAir.10

2001:Fiat presents the Stilo and the following year Lancia launches the Thesis, its new flagship luxury model. H2Elettra Fuel Cell. The first Fiat vehicle with hydrogen PEM Fuel Cell.10

Giovanni Agnelli
Giovanni Agnelli

2003: after almost half a century at the helm of the company, Giovanni Agnelli dies and his brother Umberto takes over as Chairman. Fiat invents the MultiJet technology and the SDE, the smallest direct-injection diesel engine ever produced. In Brazil, the company introduces flexfuel technology, which enables two different fuels (e.g., gasoline and ethanol) to be mixed in the same tank. First use of Agilaser, Fiat's patented laser welding system that can can replace up to eight traditional welding robots. The system is now used throughout the auto industry.

2004: Umberto Agnelli dies and the Group’s new leaders are appointed: Luca Cordero di Montezemolo as Chairman, John Elkann as Vice Chairman and Sergio Marchionne as Chief Executive Officer. The Panda wins the “Car of the Year” award.

Fiat Panda

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2005: Fiat Group returns to profitability and the 16v 1.3 MultiJet engine is named “Engine of the Year”. FPT Powertrain Technologies is established.

2006: launch of the TetraFuel system for alternative fuels.

Fiat 500 Car of The Year
Fiat 500 - 2008 Car of the Year

2007: at the end of January, Fiat launches the new Bravo. In March, one of the most prestigious sports car brands in history, Abarth, is relaunched with its reinterpretation of the Grande Punto. On July 4th, the new Fiat 500 hits the market and becomes an instant success. In 2008, it is named “Car of the Year”.

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Abarth 500
Fiat 500 Abarth

2008: the new Lancia Delta, the Alfa 8C Spider, the 500 Abarth and the Fiorino are all presented for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show. A few months later, Fiat launches the “free space” Qubo and the Grande Punto Natural Power.

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2009: on June 10th, Fiat Group and Chrysler Group LLC announce that they have signed a global strategic alliance. The first Fiat 500 arrive in the United States for evaluation. The same year, FPT introduces the MultiJet II as well as the MultiAir, a revolutionary electro-hydraulic valve control system. In December, the new Doblò arrives. In addition, Fiat S.p.A. is recognized as a sustainability leader and enters the Dow Jones Sustainability World and Dow Jones Sustainability STOXX indexes.

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2010: John Elkann becomes Chairman of Fiat. The company launches two important innovations, the TCT (Twin Clutch Transmission) technology and the TwinAir, the world’s first high-tech two-cylinder engine. In April, there is the debut of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and the 500,000th unit of the new 500 rolls off the production line. On September 16th, Shareholders approve the plan for the demerger of Fiat S.p.A.’s industrial activities and creation of a new group headed by Fiat Industrial S.p.A. The NAFTA Fiat 500 debuts at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Production begins in December.

Alfa Romeo 4c
Alfa Romeo 4c

2011: the demerger takes effect on January 1st. Under the new structure, Fiat consists of FGA, Ferrari, Maserati, Magneti Marelli, Teksid, Comau and Fiat Powertrain Technologies (the “Passenger & Commercial Vehicles” powertrain business). The new group headed by Fiat Industrial S.p.A., which is listed on Borsa Italiana, consists of CNH, Iveco and FPT Industrial (the “Industrial & Marine” powertrain business).

First world-wide application of TWIP (Twinning-Induced Plasticity) steel on the Fiat Panda. First European test site for real time experimentation of emergency calls from vehicles

The Fiat 500 arrives at North American Fiat dealers during the 1st quarter of the year.

Read More:

1. Time line adapted from Fiat SpA and augmented with various sources.
2. Fiat SpA.
3. The New Fiat Guide, 1969 Jan P. Norbye
4. Forty Years of Design with Fiat, 1979, Dante Giacosa
5. Fiat Bravo Magazine, Aug, 1979, Karl Ludvigsen
6. Car and Driver, Sept. 1974
7. American-Automobile Website
8. Fiat Press England, LTD, Oct. 1973
9. One Hundred Years of Fiat Products, Faces, Images, 1999, Umberto Allemandi & C
10. Centro Ricerche Fiat 1978-2008: A thumbnail Sketch of 30 Years of Business, 2008, Fiat S.p.A. C
11. FIAT TO SELL ELECTRIC CAR: Orlando Sentinel, April 26, 1990
12. Road&Track, July 1968
13."Fiat SpA ." International Directory of Company Histories. . 24 Jan. 2022
15. Fiat (The Great cars series), 1977, Rod Shimwell
Photo credit: *Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike
All others Courtesy of Fiat SpA and Fiat Group Press


Anonymous said...

thank you

chris said...

Great read Chris...thanks

chris said...

Great read Chris...thanks said...

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