Fiat History

Fiat, Italy’s largest automaker, is a manufacturing conglomerate founded in 1899 by Giovanni Agnelli and based in the city of Turin. Its other subsidiaries manufacture trains, aircraft, agricultural equipment, and even tanks. The company has several factories and assembly plants outside its home country, most notably in Brazil, Argentina and Poland. Fiat operates in 61 countries via some 1063 companies and a workforce of over 220,000.

The late 90’s and early 2000’s were a period of turmoil for Fiat, wherein the firm made huge losses. These have been largely stemmed by the sound leadership and vision of CEO Sergio Marchionne. Fiat is also infamous for its Italian advert that showed a group of women performing the ‘haka’ beside the new Fiat car. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade lambasted the advert as “culturally insensitive”.

Besides Fiat proper, the group also owns or holds significant ownership in Ferrari, Iveco, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Lancia. In 2007 Fiat also entered into a partnership with American automaker Chrysler. The prestigious European Car of the Year award has been awarded 12 times to Fiat in the award’s 40-year history, more than any other carmaker. Some notable vehicles that have bagged the award are the Fiat Uno (in 1984), Alfa Romeo 156 (in 1998), Alfa Romeo 147 (in 2001), and the Fiat 500 (in 2008).

Fiat Models

Current models in New Zealand begin with the Fiat 500, also badged variously as the Nuova 500 (“New 500”) or Cinquecento (Italian for ‘500’). It’s a small, retro-designed four-seater that’s proved to be a publicity masterstroke for Fiat. Launched in 2007, the 500 inevitably guns straight for the market dominated by the Mini, and one of its selling points is the wide variety of trims and personalization options one can specify on the car. You can also buy the Bravo, a hatchback that’s proved to very successful as well, and the Grande Punto, a sporty hatchback that carries Maserati design cues like the headlamps and side-mirrors.

Looking at buying a Fiat? Check the vehicle history of any Fiat by entering its number plate in the field above.