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About FiatFiat Automobiles, now part of the Fiat Chrysler Group, is a large automobile maker that is the largest manufacturer in Italy. However, this company also has a rich and long history in the United States as a maker of luxury and sporting cars. Here is a timeline of Fiat's history in the United States.
1899: Fiat is founded by Giovanni Agnelli
Fiat was founded in Italy and gained an immediate following when several of its cars finished the first Car Tour of Italy, including one driven by the founder and company president.
1908: Fiat introduced in the United States1) Year - accomplishment - (sub heading)
After nine years of operation in Italy, the then-new car maker introduced its products in the United States. This was quite as a risk, as the cars were four to more than ten times the price of a Ford, then the dominant brand of automobile.
1910: First Fiat manufacturing plant built in the United States2)
Fiat began manufacturing cars specifically for the American market, with a factory in Poughkeepsie, New York near the banks of the Hudson River.
1917: World War I forces Fiat to cease American production
To conserve resources, the United States government imposed strict manufacturing restrictions in World War II. Fiat was forced to close its manufacturing plant as a result.
1919: Fiat re-enters United States auto market
With World War I over and the related manufacturing restrictions lifted, Fiat once again began manufacturing and selling cars in the United States. However, the company suffered from low sales volume due to the Great Depression and a loss of market during its absence in the war.
1939: Fiat remains open in US despite World War II
After its losses in World War I, the company decides to remain open in the United States throughout World War II despite manufacturing restrictions. In addition to passenger cars, Fiat makes tanks and airplanes for the war effort. Its smaller and more fuel efficient cars gain in popularity due to efforts to save resources for the war.
1979: Fiat reaches the highest sales volume in the United States
Fiat rebuilt its American line for several decades but remained a niche automobile due to its smaller size than most American cars. However, it became an instant favorite in the seventies due the oil crisis. The line of compact cars become especially popular.
1984: Fiat withdraws from the United States
With the oil crisis resolved and larger vehicles such as SUVs entering the market, Fiat suffered a loss in popularity just years after its record high decade. The company then decided to focus mainly on European and Asian markets, where smaller cars remained a popular choice. Japanese cars filled the void in the American auto market.
2007: The iconic Fiat 500 begins production once again
The Fiat 500, a classic Italian compact car that had gone out of production, was re-introduced in Europe and numerous older countries on its fiftieth anniversary. It won several major awards in its class and was very popular among car buyers.
2008: Fiat merges with Chrysler Corporation to form the Fiat-Chrysler Group
Fiat merged with the American Chrysler Corporation. Plans began immediately to reinstate manufacturing and marketing of the Fiat in the United States.
2011: Fiat re-introduced in the United States
The Fiat brand entered the market once again with the 2012 Fiat 500, or Cinquecento. This model has been a favorite in European markets for several decades and is expected to be a new American classic.
2015: Fiat expands line of Fiat 500 in United States
The Fiat 500 remains the sole model in the US. However, the line has expanded to include a cabriolet, an electric car, a four door sedan, and a higher powered sports edition of the classic 500. The compact, sleek, and energy efficient design is expected to be popular in the American market.
Fiat has a rich history in the United States but an even more promising future. The energy efficiency and sleek European design of Fiat automobiles is likely to appeal to the American market. Now that the company is merged with Chrysler, it will likely have the presence needed to market successfully to the brand-loyal U.S. market. With cars sold in more than 100 companies, the Fiat Chrysler Group is poised to become one of the largest automobile groups in the world.