The Italian automobile company FIAT is synonomous with success, with brands such as Ferrari, Maseratti, Alfa Romeo and the FIAT brand, one usually thinks of class and success when the brand is mentioned. By and large the FIAT brand has been suuccesful for over one hundred years, the group's activities were primarily focused on the industrial manufacturing of cars, industrial and agricultural machinery. With time the group has diversified into other fields, and it now has activities in a broad range of sectors in industry and financial services. It is Italy's largest industrial concern. It also has significant global interests, operating in 61 countries with 1,063 companies that employ over 223,000 people, 111,000 of these employees are outside Italy. However in recent years the company has fallen on hard times. Faced with a multitude of threats including, rising steel prices, increased competitveness from Japanese and Korean manufactureres and a strong Euro, FIAT endured heavy losses in sales and turnover since 2001. The company lost 445 million euros in 2001 and just over 820 million euros in the first half of 2002, not to mention sales in Europe and Italy falling by roughly twenty percent and the FIAT factories operating at only seventy per cent of its maximum capacity. Furthermore chances of a recovery through the Latin American markets were scuppered due to the financial crises there. However a management overhaul, large scale redundancies and the release of many new cars on the market has helped FIAT to drag itself out of a deep crisis that was so significant it brought a large scale downturn in the Italian economy.
FIAT was founded on the eleventh of July 1899 at Palazzo Bricherasio in Turin and the company charter of "Societа Anonima Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino" was agreed and signed. The company was founded by a group of investors who became the board of directors. On the board of directors, Giovanni Agnelli was recognised as a potential chairman and because of his determination and strategic vision he was in 1902 made the Managing Director of the company.The first FIAT factory was opened in 1900 near the Italian town Corso Dante. One hundred and fifty workers were employed there and the factory produced 24 cars. FIAT quickly began entering motor racing competitions, and did so with great success, thus creating and enhancing the FIAT name. FIAT's reputation was such that in 1908 FIAT heade towards the promising American market, in that year FIAT Automobile co. was founded in the United States.The company grew quickly there and soon diversifeid into other automotive sectors, commercial vehicles trams, trucks and marine engines were all being made under the FIAT name as production soared. In 1916 the Lingotto factory was built, the factory which had five floors and a test track on the roof was the largest in Europe,and the prize posession of the Italian automotive industry. Throughout the nineteen twenties FIAT again expanded their activities, this time to the electricity and steel industries which included railway and public transport. Also in 1923 FIAT produced the first car with four seats, the 509, which went on to achieve massive success for the company but also revolutionised how cars would be produced. FIAT became renowned for its human resource management policies which included health care, specialised schools and sports clubs.
During the years of Mussolini's reign in Italy FIAT had to rescale it international ambitions and focus on the domestic market. During the second world war FIAT had some of its important plants desttroyed during attacks, however the reconstruction of these plants was funded by Marshall aid and was completed by 1948. Throughout the nineteen fifties Italy experienced a significant economic boom and it was the automotive industry that was the main...