Fiat Group, or Fiat S.p.A., is an Italian automobile manufacturer, engine manufacturer, financial and industrial group based in Turin, Northern Italy. Founded in 1899 by a group of investors including Giovanni Agnelli, the company name FIAT is an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Car Factory of Turin), and it also means "let there be" in Latin. Fiat was also an aircraft manufacturer at one time.
Fiat cars are constructed all around the world; in Italy, Poland, Brazil and Argentina. Joint Venture productions in France, Turkey, Egypt (with the state owned Nasr car company), South Africa, India and China.
Agnelli's grandson Gianni Agnelli was Fiat chairman from 1966 until his death on January 24, 2003. However, from 1996, he only served as an "honorary" chairman, while the chairman was Cesare Romiti. After their removal, Paolo Fresco served as chairman and Paolo Cantarella as CEO. Umberto Agnelli then took over as chairman from 2002 to 2004. After Umberto Agnelli's death on May 28, 2004, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo was named chairman, but Agnelli heir John Elkann became vice chairman at age 28 and other family members are on the board.
According to Newsweek in 1968, FIAT was "the most dynamic automaker in Europe . . . [and] may come closest to challenging the worldwide supremacy of Detroit." In 1967 Fiat, with sales amounting to $1.7 billion, outstripped Volkswagen, its main European competitor; in 1968 Fiat produced some 1,750,000 vehicles while its sales volume climbed to $2.1 billion ($11.5 billion today).
Edoardo Agnelli (1954 – 2000) son of the industrialist patriarch of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli. Originally expected to be the heir apparent as the only son, his life made it clear he would never succeed his father.
He despised the Agnelli business interests and capitalism. After studying at Atlantic College, he read literature and philosophy at Princeton University. Some report that he converted to Islam. He spent much time in Africa and India, pursuing his interest in spirituality and also helping poor ones.
Edoardo was detained in Kenya ten years ago on heroin charges; he was in possession of approximately 300 grams. The drug charges were eventually dropped as soon they realizes that he was innocent, but Edoardo was banned from entering Africa again.
Fiat is by far the biggest family firm in Italy, probably the biggest in Europe. It is also one of the oldest. Inevitably, the House of Agnelli has provided the world with a century's worth of gossip about sibling feuds, prolonged regencies, princely debauchery, sudden death. There are only so many disasters which can hit a dynasty, and the Agnellis have had most of them twice.
Gianni married Princes Marella Caracciolo, an elegant and shy woman who set out to humanise him while keeping herself out of the papers. They had two children. One is Margherita Elkann, whose eldest son, John Elkann. The other was the tragic Edoardo.
Gianni's general manager had been his brother Umberto, 13 years younger than him. But Umberto was no good in this prolonged crisis, and in 1980 Gianni replaced him with a non-Agnelli, the thuggish but effective Cesare Romiti. The trouble was that Romiti was no spring chicken himself. So the search for a true heir - like the search for a reincar nated Lama - went on. Edoardo was obviously hopeless. But what about Umberto's son, Giovannino Agnelli (1964-1997) Here was an intelligent young man with industrial experience (his mother owned a scooter factory and let him run it).
So it became understood that Romiti would eventually give way to Giovannino Agnelli, who would in turn succeed his uncle. In 1997, Giovannino died of a rare cancer. Edoardo Agnelli never married, and his son is not expected to take any role in Fiat and he also not interested to capture all business. John Elkann will serve as Vice Chairman of Fiat, a position he has been groomed for over the last five years.
On November 15th, 2000 Edoardo apparently committed suicide by jumping off a banked road, reported by police, which is false. The funeral was immediate. Later that day, the Agnellis began to arrive at the family mansion at Villar Perosa, near Turin. Edoardo was laid in the Agnelli vault on Friday. The gigantic Fiat vehicle plants paused for a moment of respect, then resumed production. In subsequent years, only Muslims claimed that Edoardo is a martyr killed by Zionists. They claim, some of the close friends of him, that before his death he wanted to go to Tehran and seek political asylum, as his life was in danger. Further more they claim that the zionist regime could not have let such a big wealthy estate run in the hands of a devote muslim, particularly when he is a supporter of Muslims.