Fiat Automobiles S.p.A was founded in 1899 by group of men led by Giovanni Agnelli, FIAT standing for Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino, or rough translation to Italian Car Factory in Torin. Torin, or Turin was the original city that FIAT was founded in and is where the headquarters are located. Fiat experienced early success being known for the quality of their cars and unique style that they came in. Fiat sold roughly 1200 car by 1906 that same year Fiat went public on the Milan stock exchange. Fiat began producing trucks, airplanes, and began exporting vehicles to the United States and around Europe. By 1910 fiat became the largest automotive company in Italy that year also opened their first plant in the U.S in Poughkeepsie, NY. Fiat in America became a mark of luxury and class, costing about $5900 more than the Ford model T in 1918. Once World War I broke out Fiat began manufacturing military equipment for the Allies, and the U.S factory was shut down. By the end of World War I and into the 20’s Fiat owned more than an 80% market share of car manufacturing in Italy.
After seizures of Fiats factories by socialist worker in 1921, which concluded in 1922 thanks in part of the to the socialist and labor parties of Italy. Fiat began construction on its infamous Lingotto factory amidst the coups, after its completion in 1923 it would be the largest factory in Europe. The Lingotto factory utilized the American factory technique revolutionized by Henry Ford of assembly line to increase production. Fiat also began to revolutionize business themselves by offering insurance for their vehicles in the purchase price in 1928. Fiat continued to expand owning almost 90% of the Italian car market by the end of the 1920’s. Once World War II broke out Fiat began producing military weaponry, aircrafts, and vehicles for the Italian government, later in the war for Germany as well. After the war in 1948 the Italian government was overthrown, as was Giovanni Agnelli and the rest of leadership at Fiat for their ties to Mussolini. The Agnelli family regained leadership at Fiat when Giovanni’s grandson became general manager in 1966.
Fiat returned to North America in the 1950’s, initially starting strong sale wise. The success of Fiat continued not only in Europe and in North America but slowly around the world, beginning assembly for passenger cars in Africa in 1950. This growth then transpired into the purchase of other Automotive groups, the first one in 1967 of Autobianchi, surpassing Volkswagen in sales with close to $2.1 billion in sales.
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