Vintage and modern trucks

​Fiat Automotive Plant: 42 years of innovation

A special infographic about the four decades of innovations and pioneering spirit of the largest FCA plant in the world.

July 9, 2018 - It was on July 9, 1976, exactly 42 years ago, that the Fiat Automotive Plant in Betim (MG) was inaugurated. To celebrate the anniversary, we selected 42 of the many innovations that marked not only the history of Fiat in Brazil, but also revolutionized the automotive market even beyond its national borders.

To contextualize it all, we spoke to FCA's Experimental Engineering, Laboratories and Prototype manager, Robson Cotta, who started his career at the Fiat Automotive Plant 36 years ago as an engineer for vehicle testing, an area he helped transform into an international benchmark. Today, it tests not only Fiat and Jeep vehicles, but also vehicles from other manufactures such as RAM, Chrysler, Dodge, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and even Ferrari.

"It's in the area where I work (Tests and Prototypes) that the first experiments with innovative breakthroughs take place", he clarifies. For Robson, Fiat's success in Brazil is closely linked to the culture of innovation. "Our innovations are always designed for the customer's needs. We don't just care about what's new. We want to create our own here too, specific to our customers", he says.

Cotta notes that the 42 innovations in the list below can be classified into four categories. "Check out the many innovative items we have launched in our engines: in the gears, the shifts, cylinders, the first 1.0, the first turbo, first 16V, first 20V and others. We have always been a reference in Brazil", he points out. "Not to mention innovations in the use of fuels, such as the first car to use ethanol, the first economy flex, the first tetrafuel", he adds. "We have also made many safety features accessible, especially airbags and ABS brakes", he says. "In a fourth category, we can bring together the most diverse applications for the customer, such as the first pickup truck in the world made from a compact car, the first van, the Adventure concept, innovations that were copied a lot because they didn't exist anywhere else", he highlights.

"Mobi, Toro, Argo and Cronos symbolize the change Fiat is going through", says Cotta. "A revolution in manufacturing that is entering the era of Industry 4.0 and thus allows for never before seen refinement made possible in the finishing of vehicles". Last but not least, FCA President for Latin America, Antonio Filosa, announced an investment of R$ 8 billion, that covers the Fiat Plant and its suppliers, generating 8 thousand direct and indirect jobs throughout the productive chain. The resources will allow for the expansion of Fiat's range of products and strengthen the brand in the Brazilian and Latin American markets. There will be 15 launches by 2023, including new cars, renovated models and special series.

"This culture of innovation continues, now more than ever", says Cotta. "Incidentally, it's important to remember that our innovations are not only in the sphere of vehicles. The establishment of the Fiat Plant in Minas Gerais created a great evolution in the technical and academic training of professionals. With many partnerships with educational institutions, we have become a reference in Engineering as well", he says proudly.

Check out our timeline with the selection of 42 great innovations of Fiat in these 42 years in Brazil:

Timeline with selection of 42 great innovations Fiat inroduced in Brazil across 42 years.

Words: Daniel Schneider

Art: Fabricio Moura

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