The Italian automobile industry had its beginnings in 1884 when Enrico Bernardi built a tricycle car that ran on petrol fuel. In 1896 the first actual Italian car was produced. Three years later, Giovanni Agnelli and his partners founded Fiat and produced their first model.
The automotive industry in Italy is a quite large employer in the country, it has over 2,131 firms and employs almost 250,000 people. Italy is one of the significant automobile producers both in Europe and across the world.
When we talk about Italian Cars, marques that comes to mind are Pagani, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati – super cars with their sleek lines, beautiful interiors and sexiness. With speed that awes and overwhelms their fans and owners alike. But Italy is also known for its small city cars and sports cars like the Abarth 124 Spider and Fiat 500.
Today the Italian automotive industry is almost totally dominated by the Fiat Group (including Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and the exotic Ferrari and Maserati marques). Fiat now also owns American automaker Chrysler.
The European Car of the Year award, Europe’s premier automotive trophy for the past 50 years, has been awarded twelve times to the Fiat Group, more than any other manufacturer, most recently with the Fiat 500 in 2008.
Other major Italian brands are Lamborghini (owned by Volkswagen-Audi.) and independently owned Pagani. Famous brands no longer in production include the Iso-Grifo (1965-1974) and the Isotta Fraschini (1900-1999).
Modena, an ancient town is known for its automotive industry since the factories of the famous Italian sports car makers Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini, Pagani and Maserati are, or were, located there and all, except Lamborghini, have headquarters in the city or nearby. One of Ferrari’s cars, the 360 Modena, was named after the town itself.