Fiat is a company that had to face two World Wars and a harsh communist era, but today it is the world’s sixth largest automaker in the world, and it has been the largest one in Italy ever since 1910. So we are talking about a strong, powerful automotive company.
The origins of Fiat go back to 1899, when Giovanni Agnelli founded the company together with some other investors. The first car they made was the Fiat 3 ½ CV, which looked very much like the Benz of that time. Then in 1903 the first trucks entered production and five years later the first Fiat automobile entered the in United States. The Italian vehicles were a luxury item in the country at that time. Meanwhile, in Europe Fiat taxis began to be a common site.
Later Communism conquered Italy and even Agnelli’s company for a while. Fiat’s first reaction? Agnelli left the company. But progress has been achieved during the following years and by 1925 almost 90 percent of the Italian car market was controlled by Fiat. After the Mussolini era ended, came a period of several years in which the Agnelli family could not part of the Fiat leadership team. But in 1963 Gianni Agnelli – Giovanni Agnelli’s grandson – was appointed general manager and then chairman of the company.
His actions as head of the automobile manufacturer were crowned with success in no time. The first thing he did was to reorganize the whole company and by 1968 Fiat became known as the most dynamic European carmaker. Both better times (for instance Fiat acquired Alfa Romeo and Maserati) and worse periods (like the 1973 oil price shock) came upon the company during Gianni’s leadership, and then in 1998 Paolo Fresco took his place.
Two years later he signed an agreement through which General Motors bought a stake in the company which had become Fiat Auto. The collaboration between the two automakers lasted until 2005, and during this time the Alfa Romeo 156 and the Alfa Romeo 147 (both Fiat Group offspring) won European Car of the Year.
The year 2004 came with another change in leadership, as Sergio Marchionne became the company’s new CEO. He has done good things for Fiat. The latest important decision he took was when he shook hands with Chrysler’s head, in 2009.