Fiat is one of the largest automotive car groups in the world. The Fiat Group owns Chrysler, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and other notable car manufacturers around the world. What started as a small independent core group grew into one of the largest car conglomerates in the history of automobiles. Just recently it merged with the Chrysler Corporation, now going by the formal name of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
The company started in 1899 and was founded by Giovanni Agnelli. FIAT (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino) grew to become the top leading car producing company in Italy by the year 1910. The first car it ever produced was the 1903 Fiat 24 Horse Power.
The company then opened its doors to the US in 1910. It continued to become one of the most luxurious brands in the country – a Fiat car was nearly twice as costly as a Ford vehicle and this made Fiat a brand of illustrious distinction. It became a car for the upper class.
During the First World War the company focused entirely on producing airplane parts and eventually shut its US doors down by 1917. It remained functional in Italy where to this day it is the most prominent active automobile company.
Over the years, Fiat acquired other automobile manufacturers. It acquired Lancia back in 1968, Ferrari in the following year, and then Maserati in 1993. The latest acquisition is that of the Chrysler Group LLC in 2014. Altogether, the Fiat Group owns: Fiat, Dodge, Chrysler, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, SRT, Jeep, Lancia, Ram Trucks, Maserati, Abarth, and Fiat Professional, a total of twelve brands.
The years 1911 to 1915 saw the release of the world’s first mass-produced vans, all of which were introduced by Fiat. The majority of these vehicles became popular with military groups dating before and during the First World War.
1981 saw the Fiat Ducato x2/12, one of the most popular light vans all across Europe. This was the vehicle that dominated sales during the rest of the decade. As a matter of fact, the Ducato is still being produced to this day.
2010 saw the release of the New Doblo Cargo, the van which would later win the 2011 Van of the Year award.
While Fiat is known as a large conglomeration of different brands, it has its fair share of amazing innovations as well. One example is the Fiat 147, released in 1979. This was the very first mass-produced car that could run on hydrous ethanol instead of petroleum fuel.
It was also the first company to introduce light vans for commercial and military use, as seen early on during its World War I years.
Fiat is also one of the very first companies to utilize industrial robotics for their assembly factories, a trade that has since become second-nature for most businesses.