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Renowned Italian automobile manufacturer Fiat has capitalized on its successes by branching out and establishing itself in a variety of industrial industries. Under the Fiat Group moniker it produces commercial vehicles, construction equipment, thermo mechanics and telecommunications equipment, metallurgical products, engine components, railroad stock, tractors and airplanes. It also owns the prominent Italian newspaper La Stampa, which it has used to its advertising advantage.

With headquarters in Turin, Italy, the name Fiat is an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, meaning "Italian Automobile Factory of Turin." In Latin the name translates as "let there be."

Founded in 1899 by Giovanni Agnelli, an ex-cavalry officer, Fiat's initial accomplishments were not recognized outside its country's borders; Italian protectionism allowed Fiat to accomplish a lot. During its first two decades it controlled 80 percent of the Italian automobile market. However, after two world wars, Italy's borders opened to new markets and so did Fiat's. It is now one of Europe's largest companies.

As a result of its successes Fiat has acquired Iveco commercial vehicles and agricultural manufacturing leader CNH Global, which is a merger of both New Holland and Case.

Fiat is a publicly owned, internationally traded company. It ranks No. 84 on the 2007 Fortune 500 list and No. 10 amongst motor vehicle and parts manufacturers. It employs over 172,000 people with 2006 annual revenues of US$65 billion.[1]


[edit] History

[edit] Fiat Develops Through its Automobile Industry

With a history spanning more than a century, Fiat's importance to Italy's culture and economy cannot be overestimated. In fact, in the 1990s, half of Turin, Italy's population was either directly or indirectly dependent on Fiat for its livelihood.[2]

Early in its history Fiat received significant support from the government through protectionist policies. While this proved beneficial for Fiat because of its large market share, the lack of competition meant a lack of incentive to provide the highest quality product. In fact, initially it only provided two different car models for customers to choose from: the basic and the deluxe. However, in response to growing complaints, Fiat eventually designed a more reliable automobile: the Topolino. The new car was a success and accounted for 60 per cent of Fiat's sales until the mid-1950s.[3]

[edit] Fiat and the War

The turning point for Fiat, as with many industrial companies, was wartime. The company was required to be more productive and versatile. Under Benito Mussolini Fiat flourished. However, since its factories were constructing military vehicles and equipment the company became prime Allied Forces targets. Bombing tore many facilities apart.

In 1945, Fiat's founder Giovanni Agnelli died. So, after the war Fiat had to rebuild its leadership and its factories. New company president Vittorio Valletta quickly began renovating the company. With the help of U.S. loans, he was able to revitalize Fiat by modernizing its factories. But Fiat was faced with a new problem: less people were able to buy cars in post-war Italy. The war had left most of the country in disarray and many of its citizens with little to no money.

[edit] Opposition to International Expansion

Finally the company that relied entirely on the Italian market was forced to look beyond its borders. Fiat established a new facility in Yugoslavia capable of manufacturing 40,000 automobiles per year. It also developed a manufacturing contract with NATO. However, its foreign developments were met with discontent from home as Italian employees led a number of protests. In fact, Valletta was even kidnapped during a Communist-led worker revolt, resulting in loan restrictions from the U.S. The communist connections led to many employees being politically re-educated or fired accordingly.

[edit] The Rise and Fall of Vallett's Success

Fiat's revenue increased with Valletta's investments into the company's modernization. By 1959 sales reached US$644 million, which accounted for one-third of Italy's mechanical production.

Valletta had regained Fiat's success by 1960 and was prepared to move sales into a wider European market. Italy had just recently become a member of the European Economic Community (EEC) and Fiat would soon be competing with both German and French companies. However, not all of Fiat's manufacturers felt as strongly about its ability to compete, especially when American automobile manufacturers entered race. Italian customers eventually proved the manufacturers right and began buying up new foreign cars. From 1960 to 1963, Fiat's sales dropped a massive 20 percent.[4]

[edit] Self-preservation Efforts

Fiat responded to its flailing sales by releasing a new sedan and an advertising campaign against foreign automobiles in La Stampa, a newspaper publication it owned.

Fiat's exports were increasing, specifically amongst less developed countries. New factories were being developed in Germany, Austria, India, Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Spain and Argentina. Fiat's fortunes seemed to be recuperating once again. It bought fellow Italian car company Lancia, and eventually Ferrari.

The new acquisitions were not enough to save Fiat when it was hit with inflation and more strikes. The Italian market it had relied on in its early history was no longer dependable, now its international sales were outperforming its domestic ones.

Fiat began instituting all sorts of techniques to save its factories, most notably the introduction of robotized manufacturing. It increased production with a smaller workforce. Fiat acquired two more luxury automobiles companies in the 1980s: Alpha Romeo and Maserati. Neither purchase was able to significantly improve Fiat's international position. In 1990, Fiat's growth was hit with a global recession.

The European automobile market regained strength by the mid-1990s. A market Fiat met with a broader design strategy. This proved successful and by 2000 Fiat made a profitable alliance with General Motors.

Fiat continued through the millennium designing new automobiles and entering new industrial markets.

[edit] Fiat in the World of Trucks and Commercial Vehicles

Though best known as an automobile company, Fiat has participated in many other industries as well. It manufactured buses, trucks, and tractors, as well as marine and airplane equipment.

In 1975, Fiat merged with four companies operating in Italy, France, and Germany to form Iveco (Industrial VEhicle COrporation). As a subsidiary of the Fiat Group, Iveco specializes in manufacturing light to medium-duty commercial vehicles.

The company began by "integrating, rationalizing, and optimizing" the various manufacturing systems represented by its founders. Iveco intended on developing "a new, different industrial structure, even in quality terms, capable of generating the synergies and economies of scale typical of large-scale production."[5] Its goal was to essentially create more than a teaming of cultures, but instead a new company with an individual identity that could compete on a major level.

Iveco started strong. In 1977, it became the first foreign company to set up business in the United States when it formed Iveco Trucks of North America. Its new venture created an original market within the US, selling 10 to 13 ton trucks powered by diesel engines. Previously, the only U.S. trucks using diesel engines were heavy-duty vehicles. The success of this venture prompted Iveco to branch into more international markets like North Africa, Libya, and Nigeria.

The first official Iveco vehicle project was the Daily, a light range vehicle powered by a four-cylinder 8140 indirect injection diesel engine. The small commercial vehicle was a tremendous success; even today a Daily is sold every five minutes somewhere in the world.[6]

Iveco spent much of the 1980s developing its brand through a variety of successful marketing and sponsorship campaigns. It was also busy building the first turbo diesel engine, which, according to its website, increased power per unit of weight and capacity, improved efficiency and reduction of specific consumption, improved performance by the engine at high altitudes, and reduced emissions. Iveco followed up with the direct injection super fast light diesel engine in 1985 and the first diesel engine for light commercial vehicles to incorporate the EGR system that reduced polluting emissions.

Along with engine advancements, Iveco was busy developing its vehicles as well. It updated its cash cow, the Daily, resulting in increased sales. It also introduced a new vehicle to its product line, the TurboStar, which combined the strengths of the different cultures of Iveco. It sold 50,000 units in seven years.[7]

With its successes of the 1980s Iveco formed a joint venture with Ford, forming Iveco Ford Truck Ltd. and opened its market to the United Kingdom. It also welcomed a new partner to the Ivecco Group, Astra, who contributed its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Piacenza, Italy, to the deal.

Still, of all its developments in the 1980s,  one of Iveco's most significant was the Standardized Product Range (SPR). It outlined a re-organization of the company to provide specialization and standardization. Every factory and worker had a specific job, whereas components were standardized so they could be used for a variety of different projects.

As a result of SPR, Iveco developed the Euro vehicle, which came in four different models: EuroCargo, EuroTech, EuroTrakker and EuroStar. With similar components, but different looks and uses, the Euro could conquer a variety of markets with smaller production costs.

The 1990s welcomed increasing globalization resulting in numerous Iveco acquisitions throughout Europe and abroad. Iveco also entered new production markets by developing fire trucks and a variety of different bus models.

With the millennium came a selection of new Iveco vehicles and further specialization of the company. Iveco added two new sectors to its brand: Irisbus Iveco, which specialized in passenger vehicle manufacturing, and Iveco Motors, which focused on engine development.

The company continues to expand with new markets established in India, Egypt, and China in 2005.

[edit] The Company Today

The Fiat Group remains the largest industrial enterprise in Italy with ownership in a wide variety of sectors: automobiles (Fiat Group Automobiles, Maserati, and Ferrari), trucks and commercial vehicles (Iveco), agricultural and construction equipment (CNH Global), components and production systems (Fiat Powertrain Technologies, Magnetti Marelli, Teksid, Comau), and publishing and communications (Itedi).

CNH Global is the world's second largest manufacturer of agricultural equipment and the third largest manufacturer of construction equipment. It employs 25,000 people in facilities around the world.[8] The Fiat Group acquired it in 1999.

Iveco employs 24,500 people, with 28 production facilities in 13 countries. It also has 4,600 service outlets in over 100 countries.[9]

[edit] Equipment List

[edit] Case Construction

[edit] Case IH

[edit] New Holland Construction

[edit] New Holland Agriculture

[edit] Steyr

[edit] Kobelco

[edit] Iveco

[edit] Iveco Magirus

[edit] Astra

[edit] Irisbus

[edit] References

  1. Fortune. Money CNN. 2008-09-09.
  2. Fiat. Answers. 2008-09-09.
  3. Fiat. Answers. 2008-09-09.
  4. Fiat. Answers. 2008-09-09.
  5. History. Iveco. 2008-09-09.
  6. History. Iveco. 2008-09-09.
  7. History. Iveco. 2008-09-09.
  8. North America. CNH. 2008-09-09.
  9. Iveco Group. Iveco. 2008-09-09.

[edit] External Links