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Fiat Group, or Fiat S.p.A., best known for Fiat cars, is an Italian automobile manufacturer, engine manufacturer, financial and industrial group based in Turin, Northern Italy. Founded in 1899 by a group of investors including Giovanni Agnelli, the company name is an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Car Factory of Turin), and it also means "let there be" in Latin. Fiat was also an aircraft manufacturer at one time.
Fiat cars are constructed all around the world; in Italy, Poland, Brazil and Argentina. Joint Venture productions in France, Turkey, Egypt South Africa, India and China.
Agnelli's grandson Gianni Agnelli was Fiat chairman from 1966 until his death on January 24, 2003. However, from 1996, he only served as an "honorary" chairman, while the chairman was Romiti. After their removal, Paolo Fresco served as chairman and Paolo Cantarella as CEO. Umberto Agnelli then took over as chairman from 2002 to 2004. After Umberto Agnelli's death on May 28, 2004, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo was named chairman, but Agnelli heir John Elkann became vice chairman at age 28 and other family members are on the board. At this point, CEO Giuseppe Morchio immediately offered his resignation. Sergio Marchionne was named to replace him on June 1, 2004.
The group's activities were initially focused on the industrial production of cars, industrial and agricultural vehicles. Over time it has diversified into many other fields, and the group now has activities in a wide range of sectors in industry and financial services. It is Italy's largest industrial concern. It also has significant worldwide operations, operating in 61 countries with 1,063 companies that employ over 223,000 people, 111,000 of whom are outside Italy.
Fiat is the largest automobile manufacturer in Italy, with a range of cars including the Fiat Panda, Punto, Stilo, Idea, Croma, Ulysse and Doblò. Car companies are run by Fiat Auto and Ferrari. Today Fiat Auto runs well known firms like Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Autobianchi, Innocenti, Abarth, Fiat, and Maserati. Ferrari is owned by the Fiat Group, but is run autonomously. Light automobile sales accounted for 46.8% of total revenues during fiscal 2004 (3.2% of which is from Ferrari).2
The European Car of the Year award, Europe's premier automotive trophy for the past 40 years, has been awarded twelve times to the Fiat Group, more than any other manufacturer.
- 1967: Fiat 124
- 1970: Fiat 128
- 1972: Fiat 127
- 1980: Lancia Delta
- 1984: Fiat Uno
- 1989: Fiat Tipo
- 1995: Fiat Punto
- 1996: Fiat Bravo/Brava
- 1998: Alfa Romeo 156
- 1998: Fiat Multipla
- 2001: Alfa Romeo 147
- 2004: Fiat Panda
- 2008: Fiat 500
Fiat in India
Fiat India Automobiles Limited (FIAL) is a 50-50 Industrial Joint Venture between Fiat Group Automobiles S. p. A., (Fiat) and Tata Motors Limited (Tata) originally incorporated on January 02, 1997. The company presently employs about 600 employees and is located at Ranjangaon in the Pune District of Maharashtra. The definitive agreement of the Joint Venture was signed on October 19th 2007. The board of directors for this company comprises of five nominees each from Fiat and Tata.
The state-of -the-art facility at Ranjangaon, will have an installed capacity to produce 100,000 cars and 200,000 engines, besides aggregates and components. The company plans to double the production capacity for both car units and engines in the next few years. This facility is currently manufacturing the Fiat Palio models, as well as premium Fiat cars such as the Fiat Punto and Fiat Linea. The facility will also manufacture Fiat’s successful 1.3 litre Multijet diesel engines and 1.2 & 1.4 litre Fire gasoline engine. Apart from Fiat cars, the facility will also produce Tata passenger and next generation cars with investment exceeding € 650 Million. The plant is expected to provide direct and indirect employment to more than 4,000 people.
Fiat, which holds a 50% stake in the Company, also owns and controls five internationally renowned brands:- Fiat Automobiles, Alfa Romeo Automobiles, Lancia Automobiles, Abarth and Fiat Light Commercial Vehicles, the makers of renowned cars such as the Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Lancia besides the Fiat branded cars.
Tata Motors Limited, the other partner to the Joint Venture, is the largest automobile company in India, with revenues of Rs. 32,426 crores (USD 7.2 billion) in 2006-07. It is the leader in commercial vehicles in every segment and the second largest in the passenger vehicles market with winning products in the compact, mid-size car and utility vehicle segments. The company is the world’s fifth largest medium and heavy commercial vehicle manufacturer and the world’s second largest medium and heavy bus manufacturer.
As per the details available at Fiat India
Fiat in Eastern Asia
Fiat have had a presence in Eastern Asia for a number of years. Entry into the closed market economy in China was successfully achieved by entering a 50/50 partnership with the domestic firm GAC group. They also have manufacturing licences with North Korea where they have permission to produce two models from the Fiat range for domestic sale only.
Agricultural and construction equipment
...Fiat group owns CNH Global (which includes Case Construction, Case IH, Flexi-Coil, Kobelco, New Holland, New Holland Construction, and Steyr); and Fiat-Hitachi Construction. CNH is the second largest agricultural equipment manufacturer in the world after Deere & Company. It is also the third largest producer of construction equipment after Caterpillar Inc. and Komatsu. CNH accounts for 20.9% of revenues.3 CNH is the most prized company inside Fiat because it has driven growth and is very profitable. It also shows great promise for growth in third-world markets.4
Commercial vehicles (Iveco and Seddon Atkinson), buses (Iveco and Irisbus) and firefighting vehicles (Camiva, Iveco and Magirus).
List of Fiat commercial products:
- Fiat Ducato Bus
Motorcycles and aeronautics
In 1959, Piaggio came under the control of the Agnelli family. Resultantly, as the wider ownership of Fiat in Italian industry, in the 1964 the two divisions (aeronautical and motorcycle) split to become two independent companies; the aeronautical division was named IAM Rinaldo Piaggio. Today the airplane-company Piaggio Aero is controlled by the family of Piero Ferrari, who also still holds 10% of the carmaker Ferrari.
Vespa thrived, until 1992 when Giovanni Alberto Agnelli became CEO - but Agnelli was already suffering from cancer, and died in 1997. In 1999, Morgan Grenfell Private Equity acquired Piaggio
Fiat itself was an important aircraft manufacturer, focused mainly on military aviation. After the World War I, Fiat consolidated several Italian small aircraft manufacturers, like Pomilio and Ansaldo. Most famous were Fiat biplane fighter aircraft of the 1930s, Fiat CR.32 and Fiat CR.42. Other notable designs were fighters CR.20, G.50, G.55 and a bomber Fiat BR.20. In 1950s it designed G.91 light ground attack plane. Then, in 1969]an aerospace division of Fiat merged with Aerfer to create Aeritalia.
The major Italian component maker Magneti Marelli is owned by Fiat, and in turn owns the other brands Carello, Automotive Lighting, Siem, Cofap, Jaeger, Solex, Veglia Borletti, Vitaloni and Weber; other accessory brands include Riv-Skf and Brazilian Cofap.
Fiat owns a metal company, Teksid.
Production systems are made mainly through Comau S.p.A. (now Comau Systems), which bought the American Pico, Renault Automation and Sciaky and produces industrial automation systems. In the 1970s and 1980s, the company became a pioneer in the use of industrial robotics for the assembly of motor vehicles. Fiat assembly plants are among the most automated and advanced in the world.
An important insurance company, Toro Assicurazioni, allows Fiat to control a relevant part of this market (also with minor companies like Lloyd Italico, Augusta Assicurazioni) and to interact with some associated banks. Toro Assicurazioni was acquired by the giant insurance company Assicurazioni Generali and now isn't related to the Fiat Group anymore.
Ingest Facility and Fiat Engineering work in various fields of construction, while IPI is a mediation company that also deals with the management of real estate properties.
Fiat is present in IT fields and in communications with ICT - Information & Communication Technology, Espin, Global Value, TeleClient, and Atlanet.
The group owns the Sestriere skiing facilities (being this village on Alps a creation of Agnelli family). The Sestriere skiing facilities has been sold by the group in 2006.
Publishing and communication
Fiat group also owns important editorial brands, like La Stampa (created in 1926 for the famous newspaper), Itedi, and Italiana Edizioni. Some national and local newspapers are owned or otherwise controlled by the different companies. A specialised advertising space reseller is Publikompass, supported by the Consorzio Fiat Media Center.
Fiat Gesco, KeyG Consulting, Sadi Customs Services, Easy Drive, RM Risk Management and Servizio Titoli are minor companies that work for public services, delivering services in economics and financial fields. Other activities include industrial securitisation (Consorzio Sirio), treasury (Fiat Geva), Fiat Information & Communication Services.
Fiat supports the Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli, an important foundation for social and economic research. Palazzo Grassi, a famous ancient building in Venice, now a museum and formerly supported by Fiat, was eventually sold to the Venice casino in January 2005.
Fiat has recently begun sponsoring the Jamaican bobsledding team and promoting this sponsorship through commercials. Many like Jamaican athletes because they see them as underdogs and as people who enjoy life. While Volvo sponsors golf, Mercedes tennis, and Hyundai soccer, Fiat is trying to look unique and more light-hearted. Further, the team is relatively cheap to sponsor.5
The group is present in many countries, not only in the West. Notably, it was one of the first companies to build factories in Soviet-controlled countries, with the best known examples in Vladivostok, Kyiv and Togliattigrad. The Russian government later continued the joint venture under the name AutoVAZ (known as Lada outside the former USSR). The venture was most notable for the Lada Riva. Fiat also has a subsidiary in Poland at Tychy, (formerly called FSM) where Fiat's small cars (the 126, Cinquecento and now Seicento) are made. Fiat also has factories in Argentina, Brazil, and Italy. In addition, its cars are produced through licensing and joint-venture agreements in China, Egypt, France, India, South Africa, Turkey, and Vietnam.6 Local variants of Fiats are produced at these factories as well as a world car, the Palio. As of 2005, the company holds the first position in the Brazilian automobile market with a market share close to 25%.
Fiat has articulated that it wishes to focus on expanding into third-world markets because, in the words of former chairman Paolo Fresco, "those are the only markets where you can expect growth."7 And it is true that Fiat's specialization in smaller cars puts it at an advantage in those markets, but cars sold in third-world countries tend to be much simpler than those sold elsewhere (e.g., most lack air conditioning), and thus require much less money to develop.
Giovanni Agnelli founded Fiat in 1899 with several investors and led the company until his death in 1945, while Vittorio Valletta administered the day-to-day activities of the company. In 1903, Fiat produced its first truck.8 In 1908, the first Fiat was exported to the US.9 That same year, the first Fiat aircraft engine was produced. Also around the same time, Fiat taxis became somewhat popular in Europe.10 By 1910, Fiat was the largest automotive company in Italy — a position it has retained since. That same year, a plant licensed to produce Fiats in Poughkeepsie, NY, made its first car. This was before the introduction of Ford's assembly line in 1913. Owning a Fiat at that time was a sign of distinction. A Fiat sold in the US cost between $3,600 and $8,600 ($73,909 to $176,561 today). Compare this to the $825 ($17,000 today) Henry Ford charged for his first Model Ts in 1908.11 However, upon the entry of the US into World War I in 1917, the factory was shut down as US regulations became too burdensome. At the same time, Fiat had to devote all of its factories to supplying the Allies, producing aircraft, engines, machine guns, trucks, and ambulances. After the war, Fiat introduced its first tractor.12 By the early 1920s, Fiat had a market share in Italy of 80%.13 In 1921, workers seized Fiat's plants and hoisted the red flag of communism over them. Mr. Agnelli responded by quitting the company, retiring to private life, and letting the workers try to run the company. Shortly afterward, 3,000 of them walked to his office and asked him to return to the helm — -a request to which he reluctantly agreed. In 1922, Fiat began to build the famous Lingotto car factory — the largest in Europe up to that time — which opened in 1923. It was the first Fiat factory to use assembly lines. Fiat made military machinery and vehicles during World War II for the Italian Army and Air Force. Fiat made fighter aircraft, which was one of the most common Italian aircraft used along with the Savoia-Marchetti, and also made light tanks and armored vehicles. These were weak compared to some of the German and Soviet counterparts, but were still used often. In 1945 — the year Hitler's ally Mussolini was overthrown as leader of Italy - the Italian Committee of National Liberation removed the Agnelli family from leadership roles in Fiat because of its ties to Mussolini's government. These were not returned until 1963, when Giovanni's grandson, Gianni took over as general manager until 1966 and as chairman until 1996.14
Among Gianni's first steps after he gained control of Fiat was a massive reorganization of the company management, which had previously been highly centralized, with almost no provision for the delegation of authority and decision-making power. Such a system had worked effectively enough in the past but lacked the responsiveness and flexibility made necessary by Fiat's steady expansion and the growth of its international operations in the 1960's. The company was reorganized on a product-line basis, with two main product groups — one for passenger cars, the other for trucks and tractors — and a number of semi-independent division and subsidiaries. Top management, freed from responsibility for day-by-day operations of the company, was able to devote its efforts to more far-reaching goals. In 1967, FIAT made its first acquisition when it purchased Autobianchi. Then, in 1969, it purchased controlling interests in Ferrari and Lancia. According to Newsweek in 1968, FIAT was "the most dynamic automaker in Europe . . . [and] may come closest to challenging the worldwide supremacy of Detroit." In 1967 Fiat, with sales amounting to $1.7 billion, outstripped Volkswagen, its main European competitor; in 1968 Fiat produced some 1,750,000 vehicles while its sales volume climbed to $2.1 billion ($11.5 billion today). At the time, Fiat was a conglomerate, owning Alitalia Airlines, toll highways, typewriter and office machine manufacturer, electronics and electrical equipment firms, a paint company, a civil engineering firm, and an international construction company. That same year, Fiat acquired Citroën — one of France's three major automakers at the time. However, in 1976, it sold the company. Following up on an agreement that Valetta had made with Soviet officials in 1966, Agnelli constructed a Fiat plant in the new city of Togliattigrad on the Volga that went into operation in 1970. On his initiative, Fiat automobile and truck plants were also constructed in industrial centers of Yugoslavia, Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania. In 1979, the company became a holding company when it spun off its various businesses into autonomous companies, one of them being Fiat Auto. That same year, sales reached an all-time high in the United States, corresponding to the Iranian Oil Crisis. However, when gas prices fell again after 1981, Americans began purchasing sport utility vehicles, minivans and pickup trucks in larger numbers (marking a departure from their past preference for large cars). Also, Japanese automakers had been taking an ever-larger share of the car market, increasing at more than half a percent a year. Thus, in 1984, Fiat and Lancia withdrew from the American market. In 1989, it did the same in the Australian market.
In 1986, Fiat acquired Alfa Romeo from the Italian government. In 1992, two top corporate officials in the Fiat Group were arrested for political corruption.15 A year later, Fiat acquired Maserati. In 1995 Alfa Romeo exited the US market. Maserati re-entered the US market under Fiat in 2002. Since then, Maserati sales there have been increasing briskly.
Paolo Fresco became chairman of Fiat in 1998 with the hope that the veteran of General Electric would bring more emphasis on shareholder value to Fiat. By the time he took power, Fiat's market share in Italy had fallen to 41%16 from around 62% in 1984.17 However, a John Welch-like management style would be much harsher than that used by the Italians (e.g., precarious versus lifetime employment). Instead, Fresco focused on offering more incentives for good performance, including compensation using stock options for top and middle management.
However,his efforts were frustrated by union objections. Unions insisted that pay raises be set by length of tenure, rather than performance. Another conflict was over his preference for informality (the founder, Giovanni Agnelli, used to be a cavalry officer). He often referred to other managers by their first name, although company tradition obliged one to refer to others using their titles (e.g., "Chairman Fresco"). The CEO of the company, Managing Director Paolo Cantarella, ran the day-to-day affairs of the company, while Fresco determined company strategy and especially acted as a negotiator for the company. In fact, many speculated the main reason he was chosen for the job was to sell Fiat Auto (although Fresco fervently denied it).18 In 1999, Fiat formed CNH Global by merging New Holland NV and Case Corporation.
Over time, most automotive companies around the world have become holding companies of foreign as well as domestic competitors. For example, the US company General Motors owned a controlling interest in Sweden's Saab Automobile and, until recently, Japan's Isuzu and Suzuki. Fresco signed a joint-venture agreement in 2000 under which GM acquired a stake in Fiat. This made it appear as if Fiat was next, although GM has made joint ventures with other companies (such as Toyota) without acquiring them. Nevertheless, Fiat did not see the GM partnership as a threat, rather as an opportunity to off-load its automotive business. Fiat had put a provision into its contract with GM that stipulated the company could force GM to acquire its automotive business. If GM balked, it would be forced to pay a penalty of $2 billion. When Fiat tried to sell GM the company, GM chose the penalty. On May 13 2005 GM and Fiat officially dissolved their agreement, and Fiat is now courting Ford.19 The current CEO views alliances such as these as the deciding factor of the future success of Fiat.
As part of the recent divestitures, in 2003 Fiat shed its insurance sector, which it was operating through Toro Assicurazioni to the DeAgostini Group. In the same year, Fiat sold its aviation business, FiatAvio to Avio Holding. In February 2004, the company sold its interest in Fiat Engineering, as well as its stake in Edison.
Fiat faces a multitude of threats, including rising steel prices (up 68% between January and October 2004),20 a strong Euro, and increased competition from Japanese and Korean car manufacturers in Europe. Although the light-vehicle market share of Japanese and Korean automakers in Europe is less than in the US (12.5% and 3.9%, respectively versus 30% and 3.9% in the US), it has been increasing steadily at about a half a percent a year.21 Fiat has also suffered operating losses for four years now.
Fiat has drawn criticism within New Zealand for an advert they ran in Italy, which a New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman described as "culturally insensitive and inappropriate". The advert showed women performing the haka beside the new Fiat car and crowd noise is in the background to simulate the atmosphere in an All Blacks rugby match. As the haka is finished a woman drives away in the Fiat car and a boy in the back of the car pokes out his tongue, which is the action used to finish the haka.
Nonetheless, Sergio Marchionne has begun to impress investors since taking over as CEO in June, 2004. Losses have fallen steadily since 2002, but some point out that they are still critical (1.5 billion Euros in 2004 alone, down from 4.2 billion in 2002).22 Mr. Marchionne has succeeded more than Fresco in taking an axe to Fiat's bloated managerial bureaucracy and changing its tone from a paternalistic, engineering one to an Anglo-American focus on markets and profits. (Mr. Marchionne was raised in Canada by Italian parents.) While the charismatic chairman, the well-connected Luca di Montezemolo, deals with politicians and unions, Marchionne is trying to rebuild the car business panel by panel. Although Fiat's Italian factories are operating at barely 80% of capacity, Marchionne is not willing to provoke a crisis, as his predecessors did, by closing any of them.23
List of Fiat models since 1899
See main article: List of Fiat models since 1899
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- Fiat needs an alliance says CEO
- Fiat Group, 2001 Annual Report, p.42
- "Company Profile: Fiat S.p.A.", Datamonitor, May, 2005, p.18
- Ibid. p.18
- Ibid. pp.21 & 23.
- Mark Graham, "So Cool it Hurts", CAR Magazine, October 2005, p.26
- John Tagliabue, "Will GE's Fresco Bring Good Things to Fiat?" The New York Times September 12 1999.
- Lauren Arthur "Our North Road Neighbors: When ME was home to Fiat", The Circle, p.4, December 10 1987.
- Fiat, "History."
- "Fiat SpA", Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Online. (accessed November 20 2005).
- Obituary, The New York Times, 25 January 2003, A p1+
- John R. Weinthal, "Industrial Review: AUTOMOBILES", 1992 Year in Review, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.
- Automotive News 1985 Market Data Book, Crain Communications, Inc.
- Luca Ciferri, "Fresco Brings Taste of New World to Fiat", Automotive News Europe (August, 1998) vol.72, p.6
- "Saving Fiat", The Economist, December 3 2005, p.64, vol.377
- "Company Profile", pp.23-24
- "Estimated Europe"
- Fiat S.p.A., "HIGHLIGHTS OF RESULTS", 2004 Annual Report, p.10
- "Saving Fiat", p.65