Torino-based car-making corporation is tied closely to Italy, producing many of the country’s cars since 1899. Fiat—or Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino—is known for motorizing Italians, especially with its small cars such as the 500 Topolino, and the postwar nuova 500, or Bambina. Fiat’s strength for the postwar years has remained in smaller vehicles, which have included the 124, 128, 127, Panda, Uno and Punto. Occasionally its larger cars win acclaim, such as the glorious Fiat 8C, Ferrari-powered Dino and 130, but Fiat tends to return to its roots when soul-searching.
The corporation has become involved in aerospace and other sectors but the car division has been its core. In recent years, Fiat has seen its domestic market share decline, and it seems to go from boom to bust frequently. A brief ﬂirtation with GM has resulted in some common engines, while there has been platform-sharing with Ford with the latest 500. By the end of 2008, Fiat’s fortunes had been restored and the range appeared strong, thanks to its range of fuel-efficient and stylish vehicles, with Alfa Romeo and Lancia preparing for their turns in the limelight.
In June 2009, Fiat took control of beleaguered Chrysler in the US with a 20 per cent stake, as that company emerged from bankruptcy.