On 11 July 1899, Giovanni Agnelli was part of the group of founding members of FIAT, Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino. The first Fiat plant opened in 1900 with 35 staff making 24 cars.
Known from the beginning for the talent and creativity of its engineering staff, by 1903 Fiat made a small profit and produced 135 cars; this grew to 1,149 cars by 1906. The company then went public selling shares via the Milan stock exchange.
Agnelli led the company until his death in 1945, while Vittorio Valletta administered the firm’s daily activities.
Its first car, the 3 ½ CV (of which only 24 copies were built, all bodied by Alessio of Turin) was based on a design purchased from Ceirano GB & C and had a 697 cc (42.5 cu in) boxer twin engine.
By 1910, Fiat was the largest automotive company in Italy. That same year, a new plant was built in Poughkeepsie, NY, by the newly founded American F.I.A.T. Automobile Company. Owning a Fiat at that time was a sign of distinction.
By the early 1920s, Fiat had a market share in Italy of 80%.
In 1922, Fiat began to build the famous Lingotto car factory then the largest in Europe which opened in 1923.
It was the first Fiat factory to use assembly lines; by 1925, Fiat controlled 87% of the Italian car market. In 1928, with the 509, Fiat included insurance in the purchase price.
In 1970, Fiat employed more than 100,000 in Italy when its production reached the highest number, 1.4 million cars, in that country.
On 29 January 2014, it was announced that Fiat S.p.A. (the former owner of Fiat Group) was to be merged into a new Netherlands-based holding company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA), took place before the end of 2014. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles became the new owner of the Fiat Group.
On 1 August 2014, Fiat S.p.A. received necessary shareholder approval to proceed with the merger, which became effective 12 October 2014.
As of 2002, Fiat built more than 1 million vehicles at six plants in Italy and the country accounted for more than a third of the company’s revenue.
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