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When it comes to small cars, Fiat is a big player. The company has become well known for its small city and supermini cars, like the Fiat 500, Fiat Panda, and the Fiat Punto but even though Fiat has a long history of success in Europe and around the world, it has had difficulty finding its feet in the United States. The company has only recently returned to the U.S. market after twenty-five years of absence, but it is certainly on the rise.
At 1A Auto, it is our mission to supply you with the right parts you need to keep your Fiat car working in tip top shape, at a great discount. Whether its parts for older Fiat-branded cars like the Fiat 850, the Fiat Spider or the Fiat 1800, or parts for newer Fiat cars like the Fiat 500, simply put, if you are in need of a replacement part for your Fiat vehicle, you've come to the right place. You'll find a large selection of new, high quality aftermarket Fiat auto parts, including headlights, mirrors, ignition coils, fuel pumps, and more. However, we don't only just sell replacement Fiat parts online here at 1A Auto; we also carry a selection of new and performance parts such as high flow air filters for your Fiat vehicle as well.
Our product development team spends over 8,000 hours a year researching the best Fiat auto parts, and they are carefully selected by our trained engineers so you can rest assured that you are getting the correct, high quality part you need for your car, at a discount price. If we wouldn't put the part in our own vehicles, we won't sell them to anyone else. A new aftermarket replacement Fiat part from 1A Auto will save you 30-50% on average over a comparable new OEM replacement Fiat part that you would get at a dealership, and our new aftermarket Fiat parts are also extremely durable and reliable. Don't overpay for Fiat parts and save yourself from a lot of potential headaches by shopping at 1A Auto.
You can shop for all of your Fiat car parts online and buy safely and securely right here on our website, or you can call our customer service toll free at 888-844-3393 if you have any questions about any of our parts, or to buy over the phone. With over 150 years combined experience, 1A Auto's customer service representatives are the most qualified to answer your questions about all of our new, aftermarket, and performance Fiat car parts. Our representatives answer 99.9% of phone calls in less than one minute and emails are responded to within the hour because we know you need answers quickly to get your beloved Fiat back in working order again. We also know you want your part fast for the same reason; 98% of in stock Fiat auto parts ship from our warehouse within one business day so that you can get back on the road in no time, and all ground shipping in the continental U.S. is completely free. And, in the unlikely case that you are unhappy with your Fiat auto part for any reason, 1A Auto also offers the only No Hassle return policy for unused items in the industry. Simply put, our competitors can't beat the 1A Advantage. Don't just take it from us - take it from over 50,000 satisfied customers!
Look no further than 1A Auto for your aftermarket, original equipment (OE) replacement, new and performance Fiat auto parts and get your car the new parts it needs today from Fiat enthusiasts just like you! If you happen to be an enthusiastic Fiat owner, have a deep passion for Fiat vehicles, or just want to learn more about the automobile manufacturer, continue reading below for a detailed look at the brand's history and some of its past and present models.
Fiat Automobiles S.p.A. is an Italian automotive company which produces Fiat branded cars, and is part of Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Fiat S.p.A. holding company (also referred to as the Fiat Group), which is the largest automobile manufacturer in Italy. The company known today as Fiat Automobiles S.p.A. wasn’t officially formed until January 2007, but its history traces all the way back to 1899 when Fiat S.p.A was originally founded. While Fiat’s main market is Europe, primarily focused in Italy, Fiat automobiles are also built in and imported to other parts of the world, and the company has numerous alliances and joint ventures, not to mention a long history of licensing production of its products, in other countries which gives Fiat a global presence. It has just recently re-entered the U.S. market after a decade’s long absence.
In addition to automobiles Fiat S.p.A, which operated as a corporation and handled all Fiat-branded car activities amongst other things prior to 1979 when it became a holding company, spinning off its automobile business into an autonomous company in the process, has also manufactured railway engines, carriages, military vehicles, farm tractors, light commercial vehicles and aircraft, amongst other things, during its more than century-long history. It has also expanded its business interests into many other areas of industry as well as financial services throughout the decades also.
Fiat was founded in 1899 by a group of investors as Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (F.I.A.T.) S.p.A., which when translated to English simply means the Italian Automobile Factory of Turin. It was the first ever Italian automobile manufacturer created and the first Fiat branded car rolled out of the companies’ Corso Dante factory shortly thereafter. The uppercase FIAT acronym was used as the name of the company initially and it first appeared in their logo in 1901, which it still does to this day. In 1906 however, the company was incorporated and the name was changed to include both upper and lower case letters to coincide with the incorporation, becoming Fiat.
The Early Decades
The company was led in its early days by Giovanni Agnelli; he officially became managing director of Fiat shortly after the company was founded and became chairman in 1920. Numerous company firsts took place in the early decades of the company; it produced its first truck in 1903 and a few years later, the first Fiat vehicle was imported to the United States. The company also began manufacturing its first buses, trams, marine, and aircraft engines around this time as well.
In 1908, the Fiat Automobile Co. was founded in the U.S and a new plant was built in Poughkeepsie, New York to produce Fiat automobiles for that market shortly thereafter. This occurred a decade plus before the Chrysler Corporation, who would play an important role in re-introducing Fiat to the U.S. in the 2000’s, was founded in the United States in 1925. These early Fiats were seen by American consumers as luxury vehicles and symbolized prestige, costing $4,000 compared to the Ford Model T at $825. By 1918, the price of the Fiat had risen to $6,400 while the price for a Model T had dropped to $525, showing that even in 1918 Americans would pay a premium for European cars. It was also around this time in the early 1910’s that Fiat had become the largest automotive company in Italy, a position it has held onto till this day.
In order to keep up with its burgeoning growth in the Italian car market, the company began building a new state of the art factory in Turin’s Lingotto district but was interrupted due to World War I. Nearly all of Fiat’s production during WWI turned to supplying items to the Allies for the war effort, including aircraft, guns, trucks, and ambulances. Thanks to pressures from the war as a result of the U.S. entering the fray in 1917, the American plant was also shut down permanently during this time. During this period, Fiat entered the steel and railway sectors for the first time, and introduced its first tractor as well.
Following the war, Fiat eventually got back on track and finally opened the new Lingotto factory in the early 1920’s. At five stories tall, it was the largest car factory in Europe. It was also the first Fiat factory to use assembly lines. Materials entered the factory at the ground level, wound up on an inclined assembly line and emerged as new cars on a rooftop test track. Within a couple years, Fiat would hold 87% of the Italian car market. Many new models were released during this time period including the elegant Fiat 525, the Fiat 508 Balilla, the Fiat 527, and the Fiat 1100, to name a few. The company also unveiled its first civil aviation aircraft in 1922, and created the world’s first railcar in 1930. World War II followed soon after and saw Fiat again return to building military equipment, including aircraft and light tanks, for the Italian government and later for the Germans as well. Many Fiat factories were bombed and production didn’t return to normal levels until 1949.
Post WWII and Expansion
Following the end of WWII and the collapse of the Mussolini regime, the National Liberation Committee removed the Agnelli family from its leadership roles in Fiat because of its ties to Mussolini's government. Giovanni Agnelli, who had still been active with Fiat up until this time, died soon after in December of 1945. Vittorio Valletta, who administered the companies’ daily activities as its general manger, was also expelled from the company due to his sympathies to the Fascist regime. However, he was recalled and named president of the company in 1946 and remained the chairman of Fiat until he retired in 1966. He died a year later.
During Valletta’s time as leader of Fiat, the company expanded rapidly. In 1957, Fiat introduced its most iconic car, the Fiat 500. The Fiat 500, like the Volkswagen Beetle and the Mini, was a small, affordable car for the trying post-war economy. Another similarity to the Beetle was its rear mounted engine. The 500 was very popular and practical choice for many Europeans. Classic Fiat 500’s have been driven for a number of distance challenges since its release. In 2005, a 1973 Fiat 500 was driven from Bari, Italy, across Russia to Beijing, China. In 2007, the same car was driven more than 6,000 miles around the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara. In 2007, a 1969 Fiat 500 was driven from Russia to Italy to Belgium, shipped from Belgium to New York City, driven from New York to Anchorage, Alaska, and shipped back to Australia. It is the smallest car to circumnavigate the globe in this fashion. Fiat's first diesel-powered car, the Fiat 1400 Diesel, was also released during this time.
The Agnelli family would return to a leadership role within Fiat in 1963, when Giovanni's grandson, Gianni, took over as its general manager. Following the retirement of Valletta in 1966, he took over as its chairman where he remained until 1996. One of the first things Agnelli did after taking over Fiat was reorganize the companies’ management structure, which had been highly centralized, in order to make the company more flexible and nimble in its operation, something it desperately needed as a result of its steady expansion into other sectors and growth internationally over the years. While the Fiat Group’s activities had been initially focused on the production of cars as well as industrial and agricultural vehicles, over time its business interests had branched out into many other sectors of industry like steel production as well in areas of finance. By the late 1960’s, Fiat had become a huge conglomerate in Europe, with a typewriter company, electrical equipment makers, a construction company, Alitalia, and toll highways (which seems like double-dipping) all in its diversified portfolio. Agnelli decided to reorganize Fiat S.p.A on a product-line basis, with two main product groups: one that included passenger cars, and another that included trucks and tractors, in addition to a number of semi-independent divisions and subsidiaries. In 1979, Fiat transformed itself from a corporation into an industrial holding company, spinning off its various businesses into a number of autonomous companies covering various separate operations, one of them being Fiat Auto, which would now handle all Fiat-branded car activities and included its other automotive companies owned at the time.
A 1968 Newsweek article proclaimed that Fiat was “the most dynamic automaker in Europe” and predicted that the company could challenge “the worldwide supremacy of Detroit.” The following year, Fiat gained controlling interests in Italian performance car makers Ferrari and Lancia. Incidentally, in 2008, Fiat worked with Ferrari to release a special edition 500 for Ferrari dealers to use as courtesy cars for Ferrari-owners having their cars serviced. In 1971 the company also acquired the historic racing car brand Abarth, which then became the racing department of Fiat.
It was also under Gianni Agnelli’s watch that the Fiat 127 supermini was released in 1971. It was named European Car of the Year and was the first Fiat to feature front-wheel drive. The Fiat 500 was ended in 1975 and was replaced with the Fiat 126, another small car, which was released a few years earlier. Produced in Poland, it wasn’t as successful in Italy as the 500, but did well in Eastern Europe due to its durability and fuel efficiency. It earned endearing nicknames like maluch, “small child” in Poland, and kispolák, “little Pole” or egérkamion, “mouse’s truck” in Hungary.
Fiat Leaves the U.S. Market
Despite all of its successes in Europe, Fiat was not performing well in the United States, due, ironically to a reputation of unreliability that grew in the 1970’s and the 1980’s, which was so at odds with the car’s image in Europe. In 1964, Fiat had released the sporty Fiat 850, which Road & Track magazine called “one of the handsomest, best balanced, designs ever seen on a small car. Unfortunately, between 1978 and 1983, the U.S. government recalled Fiat 850’s going back 10 years due to major rust problems. In addition, Americans at the time had different opinions of the Fiat 500 as well, a beloved car in Europe. Americans considered Fiats unreliable, joking that Fiat stood for “Fix It Again, Tony.” The Fiat X1/9 fared slightly better; the X1/9 was another sports model, with later generations of the USA cars designed specifically to meet new United States safety regulations. Even after Fiat left the U.S. market, International Auto Importers, Inc. continued to sell the X1/9 in the U.S for a few years. Still, the damage to Fiat’s reputation was already done and from 1975 to 1982, Fiat sales in the U.S. fell from about 100,000 to about 14,000. Fiat then decided to exit the U.S. market following 1982, beaten down thanks to a reputation for manufacturing poor quality cars.
Fiat in the 1980's and 1990's
Despite its exit from the United States, the company continued to march on in Europe and in other parts of the world. Fiat S.p.A. acquired the Alfa Romeo brand from the Italian government in the mid 1980’s, as well as Maserati in 1993. During this time, Fiat released the Fiat Panda, another city car, designed to be a cheap and durable utility vehicle. Over six million Pandas have been sold since and it’s still going, including models used by the Polish police, the Italian Army and Forest Service, and the Swiss Post Office. Like the 500, the Fiat Panda has also been used for endurance challenges. Two drivers in a Panda set the record for a drive from Cape Town, South Africa to London, United Kingdom in 10 days, 13 hours, 28 minutes, in February 2013. Other cars such as the Fiat Uno and the Fiat Tipo were also released, as was its first SUV, the Fiat Ulysses.
In 1996, Gianni Agnelli stepped down as chairman of the company, but stayed on in an honorary role until he died in 2003. Cesare Romiti assumed the role of chairman after Gianni stepped down, followed by Paolo Fresco who took over in 1998. Fresco further diversified the Fiat Group’s holdings however, the company at this point was in serious financial trouble and decline with its sales and market share in Italy having fallen tremendously in the past couple of decades. It was hoped that Fresco could turn the struggling company around but that did not occur. It was also during this time that General Motors (GM) acquired a 20 percent stake in Fiat Auto in an engine and transmission technology-sharing deal with Fiat S.p.A. There was also a provision in the agreement that stated that General Motors would purchase the remainder of Fiat Auto in the next several years, or pay a penalty if they wanted to get out of it. In 2005, that is exactly what GM did; they paid $2 billion to terminate the partnership as the deal just never worked out for various reasons.
Gianni Agnelli’s younger brother, Umberto Agnelli, took over as chairman of Fiat S.p.A. for Fresco in 2003. Umberto’s strategy was to refocus the Fiat Group’s activities on its auto and mechanics division, and he quickly brought in Giuseppe Morchio as the CEO of the Fiat Group to help him rescue the company from its latest financial crisis. Morchio immediately got to work on selling off some of Fiat’s businesses in other sectors. Umberto and Morchio were in the process of turning Fiat around and returning it to profitability after being deeply in debt and extremely unprofitable for years now, when Agnelli suddenly died in 2004. Ferrari CEO Luca Cordero di Montezemolo took over as chairman with John Elkann, the grandson of Gianni Agnelli, named vice chairman. Morchio immediately resigned from the company due to his dissatisfaction of not having been named chairman himself. Sergio Marchionne, an expert of reorganization, was named to replace Morchio as CEO in 2004, a role which he still holds today. Elkann has since taken over for Luca Cordero di Montezemolo as chairman of Fiat S.p.A., who resigned in 2010.
When Marchionne took over the Fiat Group in 2004, it was in a bad place financially and it was failing fast. Since then, Marchionne has turned the company around dramatically, bringing it back from the dead and rebuilding its automotive business. He was able to return the company to profitability in less than two years after taking over as CEO, and it is now one of the fastest growing companies in the automotive industry.
Fiat in the 2000's and Acquisition of Chrysler
In 2005, Fiat released the Fiat Grande Punto. The car was a big success and helped to kick start the turnaround at Fiat, as did the new Fiat Bravo, released in 2007. That same year also happened to be the 50th anniversary of the original Fiat 500. The date was marked by the release of the new Fiat 500. The new 500 was twenty inches longer than the original, but kept the identifiable Fiat look, with its rounded edges, in what the company calls a “squircle” shape. Within three weeks of the launch, the entire year’s production sold out. The new 500 had particularly strong sales in Italy where it was the third best-selling car that year, and sales were also strong in France and the U.K. The Fiat 500 also won the European Car of the Year award in 2008. All three of these new cars really helped to cement the reversal of fortunes at the company.
In 2007, Fiat S.p.A reorganized its automobile business once again and Fiat Auto S.p.A became Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fiat S.p.A. The renamed subsidiary included five companies as part of the restructuring: Fiat Automobiles S.p.A. (the current company responsible for handling all Fiat-branded car activities), Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., Lancia Automobiles S.p.A., Fiat Professional (light commercial vehicles) and Abarth & C S.p.A. the Fiat Group’s other automotive companies, Ferrari S.p.A. and Maserati S.p.A, each would operate independently under ownership of Fiat S.p.A.
With demand for small efficient cars growing, it looked like the time for Fiat to make another overture toward the American market and an opportunity to do just that happened to present itself. By 2009, U.S. automaker Chrysler was in some serious financial trouble and was on the verge of bankruptcy. Fiat S.p.A decided to step up and provide the U.S. government with a viable automotive entity to help create a new owner partnership to bring Chrysler out of bankruptcy. In January of that year, Fiat S.p.A and Chrysler LLC announced their intention to form a strategic global alliance. Per the agreement, Fiat would acquire a 20% stake in Chrysler in return for giving Chrysler technology and information to build small fuel-efficient vehicles. The companies also agreed to give each other access to their distribution networks in North America and other global markets respectively. Sergio Marchionne was greatly responsible for engineering the deal.
Chrysler LLC filed for bankruptcy officially in April of 2009. That same month, Fiat announced that the agreements to form the alliance with Chrysler had been signed. Fiat would receive the initial 20% stake in Chrysler, and also had the option to increase its ownership share if certain performance objectives were met. The percentage it could own of the company would be capped at 49% however, until all government loans had been repaid by Chrysler. Fiat also would not have to pay any money for the initial 20% stake of Chrysler it acquired. In June, Chrysler LLC officially emerged from the Chapter 11 restructuring overseen by the U.S. government, with the majority of all of the troubled automaker’s assets being sold to what was called "New Chrysler,” which became Chrysler Group LLC in alliance with and owned by Fiat S.p.A. The U.S. government lent support to the deal in the form of 6.6 billion US dollars in financing, which was paid out to the "Old Chrysler,” formerly Chrysler LLC and now a company called Old Carco LLC. Sergio Marchionne was appointed as the new CEO of Chrysler Group LLC.
Less than two years later after emerging from Chapter 11, Chrysler returned to profitability in the first quarter of 2011 under Marchionne’s leadership and had repaid all of its government loans shortly thereafter. By having done so, Fiat S.p.A. was able to become the majority shareholder of Chrysler in 2011 and it bought the remaining shares of Chrysler that were being held by the U.S. Treasury and Canada, increasing its stake to over 50%. Marchionne was also elected Chairman of Chrysler in 2011 as well. Fiat’s stake has since increased to almost two-thirds of majority ownership of Chrysler as of 2012.
The alliance between Fiat and Chrysler allowed for Fiat-branded automobiles to return to the United States market, which it had not been present in since the early 1980’s. The first Fiat-branded car to be released in the U.S. was the new Fiat 500, which had been available in Europe since 2007. Chrysler began constructing the Fiat 500’s in Mexico and they were then sold in the U.S. Additional Fiat 500 models have since been released and this may finally be the move that cements Fiat cars in the American driver’s heart.
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