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Is Fiat Still an Italian Car Company?

Fiat wasn’t a big name in the US until relatively recently. Where did this car company come from and how did it come to be a massive partner in one of the largest auto groups in the world? Let’s take a look into the past of this interesting automotive manufacturer to learn a bit about Fiat’s history. Is Fiat an Italian car company?

It began in Turin, Italy

According to Fiat, a group of businessmen in Turin, Italy got together to form Fiat. It is, in fact, an Italian car company. The company began to produce artisanal autos, making the decision to list Fiat on the stock exchange. This made ripples and gleaned attention. Fiat, the Italian car company continued growing. However, the company soon saw more success.

The logos of automobile companies (L-R) Abarth, Lancia, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep are pictured at the entrance to the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)
An FCA dealership where car loans and leases are agreed upon | Mauro Ujetto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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The Fiat Tipo

The Fiat Tipo was the first mass produced car on the market from the auto maker. This new car and its various versions put the Italian car company on the map in a big way. In fact, it was shortly after the development of the Fiat Tipo that Fiat began its racing career. In 1911, a 1908 Fiat S61 won the American Grand Prix. Then, 1912 saw the introduction of the Fiat Zero, or Fiat 12/15 HP.

It was this Fiat Zero that paved the way for the popular Fiat models we see on the market today. Without the Fiat Zero, we may not have the Fiat 500. The Fiat Panda, which––according to the Fiat Wikipedia page––won European Car of the Year in 2004, may not exist without the Fiat brand’s Italian heritage. The sporty 124 Spider gets inspiration from a long line of artisan auto manufacture and racing success.

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Are Fiats good cars?

Though the Fiat cars do look cute, they aren’t exactly the most reliable. When the brand was reintroduced in 2011, there was some excitement. However, these cars don’t receive good customer satisfaction or predicted reliability from sources like Consumer Reports.

Fiat models continue to hit the scene with small cabins, and mediocre fit and finish. Consumer Reports likes the look of the 2020 Fiat 500X, for example. But it didn’t perform well in the recent road test. Unfortunately, Fiat isn’t exactly considered a great car.

Fiat 500 in a press photo with a white background
Fiat 500 | FCA

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What does Fiat mean?

Fiat isn’t an Italian word. Rather, it is an acronym for several Italian words. The Fiat name stands for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino. It became Fiat Automobiles in 2007.

1959 Fiat 600 Multipla
1959 Fiat 600 Multipla | Bring a Trailer

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Is Fiat Italian?

Yes, even after the merger with Chrysler to form FCA Fiat remains an Italian car company. In fact, it is the largest automobile manufacturer in Europe––according to the Fiat Wikipedia page. Fiat held on as the third largest car company in the world until the “industry crisis” in the 1980s. Only Ford and GM surpassed Fiat for over two decades.

Since 2014, Fiat has owned all of Chrysler. At this point, it became Fiat Chrysler Automobiles or FCA. There are locations in both the US and Italy. However, true to its origin, Fiat is still considered an Italian car company.