Fiat S.p.A. is an Italian automobile manufacturer based in Turin (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino). Fiat was founded in 1899 by a group of investors, including Giovanni Agnelli. During its more than century-long history, Fiat has also manufactured railway engines and carriages, military vehicles, farm tractors, and aircraft. In 2011, Fiat was the fourth largest European automaker by production behind Volkswagen Group, PSA, andRenault and the eleventh largest automaker by production in the world.
Giovanni Agnelli, with several investors, founded the Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (F.I.A.T.) società per azioni (S.p.a.), Italian Automobile Factory of Turin, in 1899. Its acronymous name was changed to upper- and lower-case Fiat in 1906.
Fiat has acquired numerous other companies; e.g., it acquired Lancia in 1968, became a shareholder of Ferrari in 1969, took control of Alfa Romeofrom the Italian government in 1986, purchased Maserati in 1993, and became the majority shareholder of Chrysler in 2011.
Fiat-based cars are built around the world. Outside Italy, the largest country of production is Brazil, where the Fiat brand is the market leader. The group also has factories in Argentina and Poland and a long history of licensing production of its products in other countries. It also has numerous alliances and joint ventures around the world, the main ones being located in Italy, Serbia, France, Turkey, India and China.
Its first car the 3 ½ CV (of which only 24 copies were built, all bodied by Alessio of Turin) strongly resembled contemporary Benz, and had a 697 cc (42.5 cu in) boxer twin engine. In 1903, Fiat produced its first truck. In 1908, thefirst Fiat was exported to the US. That same year, the first Fiat aircraft engine was produced. Also around the same time, Fiat taxis became popular in Europe.
By 1910, Fiat was the largest automotive company in Italy—a position it has retained since. That same year, a new plant was built in Poughkeepsie, NY, by the newly founded American F.I.A.T. Automobile Company. Owning a Fiat at that time was a sign of distinction. During World War I, Fiat had to devote all of its factories to supplying the Allies with aircraft, engines, machine guns, trucks, and ambulances. Upon the entry of the US into the war in 1917, the factory was shut down as US regulations became too burdensome.
After the war, Fiat introduced its first tractor, the 702. In 1922, Fiat began to build the famous Lingotto car factory—then the largest in Europe—which opened in 1923. It was the first Fiat factory to use assembly lines; by 1925, Fiat controlled 87% of the Italian car market.
Fiat made military machinery and vehicles during World War II for the Army and Regia Aeronautica and later for the Germans. Fiat made obsolete fighter aircraft like the biplane CR.42, which was one of the most common Italian aircraft, along with Savoia-Marchettis, as well as light tanks (obsolete compared to their German and Soviet counterparts) and armoured vehicles. The best Fiat aircraft was the G.55 fighter, which arrived too late and in too limited numbers.
On 20 January 2009, Fiat S.p.A. and Chrysler LLC announced their intention to form a global alliance. Under the terms of the agreement, Fiat would take a 20% stake in Chrysler and gain access to its North American distribution network in exchange for providing Chrysler with technology and platforms to build smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles in the US and providing reciprocal access to Fiat's global distribution network.
In September 2010, shareholders approved a plan to split Fiat's capital goods businesses from the group. Agricultural and construction equipment manufacturer CNH Global NV, truck maker Iveco, and the industrial and marine division of Fiat Powertrain Technologies were spun off into a new group on 1 January 2011. The parent company, Fiat Industrial S.p.A., was listed on the Milan stock exchange on 3 January 2011.
In May 2012, Fiat formed an alliance with Mazda to develop and build a new rear wheel drive roadster for the Alfa Romeo and Mazda brands.
The major Italian component maker Magneti Marelli is owned by Fiat, and in turn owns the other brands AL-Automotive Lighting, Carello, Cromodora, Cofap, Ergom Automotive, Jaeger, Mako Elektrik, Paraflu, Seima, Siem SpA, Solex, Veglia Borletti, Vitaloni and Weber.
Fiat owns Teksid S.p.A., the largest iron foundry group in the world with a production capacity of approximately 600,000 tons annually. The company wasestablished in December 1978, and designs and produces cylinder blocks, cylinder heads, exhaust manifolds, drive shafts, camshafts and other components for automobiles and commercial vehicles. Teksid, which is specialized in casting and processing iron, has plants in France, Portugal, Poland, Brazil, Mexico and China. Since 2007, Teksid S.p.A. runs also Teksid Aluminum S.r.l. a company specialized in casting and producing auto components from aluminium alloys.
An insurance company, Toro Assicurazioni, allowed Fiat to control a relevant part of this market (also with minor companies like Lloyd Italico) and to interact with some associated banks.
Fiat Group is present in IT fields and in communications with ICT—Information & Communication Technology, Global Value, TeleClient, London and Atlanet.
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 is also one of the largest shareholders in the RCS MediaGroup.
CNH Global NV (NYSE: CNH), over 88% of which is owned by Fiat Industrial, is a global, full-line agricultural and construction equipment industry firm based in the US. CNH's scope includes integrated engineering, manufacturing, marketing and distribution of equipment on five continents. CNH's operations are organized into three business segments: agricultural equipment, construction equipment and financial services. As of December 31, 2011, CNH manufactures its products in 37 facilities throughout the world and distributes its products in approximately 170 countries through approximately 11,300 full line dealers and distributors.