Fiat's history spans to the first inklings of automobile production, at the turn of the 20th century, in 1899. From its inception, Fiat has been known for making beautiful, quality automobiles of all shapes and sizes. Fiat S.p.A., (or the Italian Automobile Factory of Turin) hails from Italy and manufacturers automobiles and engines, while also being an industrial and financial group. It was founded by a collection of financiers including Giovanni Agnelli. But, Fiat's influence doesn't stop there. During its long history, the company has also manufactured military vehicles, aircraft, railway engines, and even carriages. Today, Fiat is one of the world's top ten auto manufacturers, and holds the title of being the largest in its home country of Italy.
In 1900, Fiat opened its first factory in Carso Dante (the Lingotta factory came in 1916) and saw twenty-four cars spawn from the assembly line in its premier year, including the first Fiat model: the 3.5 CV. Fiat made a name for itself by winning numerous amounts of races in Italy in these first few years. By 1908, Fiat was opening its American branch: the Fiat Automobile Company. This company had outstanding successes within its first few years, despite the fact that Fiats were luxury vehicles and cost a few thousand dollars more per vehicle compared to traditional American models. The company quickly expanded into trains, marine engines, trucks, and commercial vehicles. During WWI, Fiat faced hugged financial struggles, and it wasn't until the four-seat Fiat 509 that it began to gain some of its momentum. Several factories were destroyed during WWII, but they were rebuilt, and in the early 1950s, Fiat saw successes with the Fiat 500 and Fiat 1400, both of which were mass-produced.
In the 1960s-1990, Fiat underwent tremendous growth, several higher-up switches, and focused on forming alliances around the globe. The affordable, practical Fiat Panda hatchback was released in 1980, and was followed by the Fiat Uno in 1982. The Uno became something of an emblem to showcase Fiat's renewed strength and growth. The 1989 Tipo, a small family-friendly hatchback was full of technology and a public favorite. It was named 1989 Car of the Year. And, we can't forget the ever-popular Fiat 500, which was produced from 1957 through 1975 and featured a half-liter-sized, rear-mounted, air-cooled engine. The 500 is a favorite with Fiat fans everywhere.
Fiat cars are built across the globe, with the biggest production country outside of Italy being Brazil. There are also Fiat factories in Poland, Argentina, and many other countries. Fiat holds many alliances with companies in several different countries. In addition to producing vehicles labeled "Fiat," the Group also produces Chrysler Group products (including Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram), as well as luxury/specialty brands, including Ferrari, Maserati, Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Lancia. Defuct brands, no longer in existence, include Autobianchi, Innocenti , Zastav, Seddon Atkinson , and Pegaso. Fiat competes with many other auto manufacturers. With the Chrysler group under its belt, Fiat competes closely (in the United States and otherwise) with Ford Motor company. It also competes heavily with French company Peugeot, as well as Germany's automaker, Volkswagen.