(Motorsport-Total.com/Motor1) – For Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Fiat), founded in 1899, Germany was one of the first foreign markets where the brand was officially represented by its import company. Deutsche Fiat Automobil-Verkaufs-Aktiengesellschaft was founded in Munich on May 5, 1922, 100 years ago.
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100 years of Fiat in Germany
Fiat had a lot of fans in Germany early on. Even Kaiser Wilhelm II and Thomas Mann, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, drove high-tech cars from Turin. In 1922, four Munich businessmen took the next step and founded Deutsche Fiat Automobil-Verkaufs-Aktiengesellschaft.
According to the founder’s protocol of 1922, the purpose of the business was “to manufacture and trade luxury cars, for luxury and for business purposes and agricultural tractors, engine plows, stables and boat engines”. What was put in official German in the official document meant in practice: importing and selling passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
First production site in Germany in 1929
Business soon went so well that the company’s headquarters were moved to the capital Berlin in 1926. Taking over the Heilbronn NSU factory, Fiat also had its own production facility in Germany from 1929, which also functioned as a sales center for imported cars. from Italy.
The Fiat 508 Balilla came off the production line here as the NSU Fiat 1000 from 1934. In 1938, 5,632 cars were already being produced in Heilbronn, over all the NSU-Fiat 500, NSU-Fiat 1000 and NSU-Fiat 1400 models. Economic development they were so good that production had to be expanded. In 1938, Fiat took over the body work in Weinsberg, less than ten kilometers from Heilbronn.
Soon after, the production of the NSU Fiat Topolino started here. At the same time, however, models with independent bodies were also produced, including the NSU Fiat Weinsberg Roadster based on Topolino – today a particularly rare and valuable classic.
Fiat 600 as a blockbuster
In 1947 the company moved its official headquarters from Berlin to Heilbronn, at the same time the name was changed to Fiat Automobil AG. In the following years, the administration was reorganized and, above all, the seller’s organization was developed. As early as 1951, Fiat sold around 5,500 cars in Germany. A year later, production resumed in Heilbronn and Weinsberg.
A big development came with the introduction of the Fiat 600. The four-seater limousine, sold in Germany as the NSU-Fiat Jagst, started a sales increase to almost 12,000 units in 1955. The Fiat 1300 came with advanced equipment and soon topped the sales list. of cars imported into Germany. In 1962, Fiat sold more than 100,000 cars in Germany for the first time in one year.
To cope with the increase in volume, Fiat opened a central distribution center in Kippenheim in Baden in 1972. All cars brought in from plants around the world are inspected here before being delivered to dealers. In 1973, the company, now known as Deutsche Fiat AG, stopped production in Germany and concentrated on sales.
Sports photo thanks to the victory of Walter Röhrl
With the Fiat Dino, which played in a league of its own at the end of the 1960s as a coupe with a spider and a Ferrari engine under the hood, Fiat kept the highlights of the small car league. The victory of the rally of Walter Röhrl, who became world champion with Fiat in the season of 1980, gave Italian cars a sporty image.
Next to the Röhrl company car 131 Mirafiori were in that era 127, 128, the and 124 Spider are Fiat’s most commercially important models. The advertising slogan “Any size, any power from 18 to 180 hp” was aimed at a large range of products.
In the 1980s, Fiat won and climb up, the first car in this segment with optional all-wheel drive and cleverly advertised as the “Great Box”, and the Uno made many new friends in Germany. In the following decade, Fiat closed Cinquecento and Fiat Punto in this successful series.
Moved to Frankfurt in 1997
With the Coupé, Fiat also addressed sports car fans again, while Fiat Barchetta announced the brand’s return to the street segment. At the same time, the Bravo/Brava and Marea models won new customer groups for Fiat in the middle class. With fiat Ulysses and the Fiat Qubo, there was again a mid-size and a small car on offer.
After management, sales, training, development and spare parts operations were controlled from Heilbronn for several decades, the company, now renamed Fiat Automobil AG, took another important step in 1997 and moved to a new German headquarters in Frankfurt am Main. .
In the Hessian banking capital, with an important airport on the doorstep, the main administrative departments moved to new offices in the Niederrad district.
The company’s headquarters initially remained in Heilbronn and was moved to Frankfurt in 2007. At the same time, the company’s name changed to Fiat Group Automobiles Germany AG. In addition to Fiat, the Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Abarth and Fiat Professional brands now belong to the company.
A new era began for Fiat in 2007: with the new Fiat 500, the iconic name returned to the model range. Fiat also had a broad foothold in the German market during this period with the all-new Panda, the Grande Punto, the Croma station wagon and the Sedici, the brand’s first SUV.
After Fiat presented the first battery-powered concept cars in 1990 with the Panda Elettra and in 1992 with the Cinquecento Elettra, the age of electric mobility finally began for the brand in 2020 with the 500 Elektro. Since 2021, Fiat has been one of the brands of the newly founded Stellantis Group, the fourth largest car manufacturer in the world in terms of sales figures.