Fiat Mio is still an innovation case studied worldwide.
Paulo Matos, Human and Organizational Development Manager at ISVOR, was supervisor of innovation in Product Engineering at Fiat, and had the role of understanding, analyzing and producing technical feasibility studies of equipment and technologies for the car, from the opinions given by customers. Some of the proposals conceptually implemented in the Fiat Mio have already become a reality over these ten years, such as the electric car. Others are still very current challenges, such as personal assistant and autonomous cars. "And there are things that we envisioned ahead of us, such as the engine on the wheels or the distributed sound, where the driver hears one song and the passenger another. It was a car far ahead of its time. It still is."
Isabella highlights the proposals related to sustainability. The designer says that, even today, it was not possible to apply all the suggestions that came up at the time. Others have become the starting point for new projects within the brand, such as the use of fabrics made from recyclable thread inside the vehicles. "We were able to work with suppliers to enable this type of lining. In the automotive sector there is this ecological concern regarding the impact of our products. In the production of the Fiat Mio, we began to see this side of people: more humane, concerned about the future and the number of cars on the streets", she explains.
Innovation and New Ways of Producing
For Mateus, who experienced a major career change from working with Fiat Mio to now being Product Innovation and Connectivity Manager, the project has also transformed the way the team thinks about car production. "First, we moved away from this direct relationship with core business with the car; then, we had to let go of the idea that we are the ones who make a car. We learned that combined knowledge has a lot more power," he says.
Maria Lucia says that the internal processes were very rich, with the collaboration between the different areas and teams, in a less hierarchical way. "It was a great cognitive diversity, of people with information, jobs, different worldviews, internally and externally. I think it was an experiment in diversity," she says.
Paulo speaks of the project as a great exercise in mindset change. "At first, we were still very orthodox, and we had to let go of this attitude. We were not developing a car for today and we were not the ones to define the resolutions; it was the customer," he says. He recalls that the request for an electric engine on the wheels was a subject of much debate among engineers, because there is still no engine light enough that won’t affect the dynamics of the car when placed on the wheels. "But perhaps, in a not so distant future, engines will no longer be as heavy. And then we changed our mindset, because it was the car of the future. We started doing this exercise of breaking these molds and it changed the way we thought. There is no innovation without thinking about the future," he says. For the engineer, this project was a lesson for Fiat about open innovation and a great legacy on how to talk to the customer.
The whole team talks about a sense of "longing" and vision changing, career plans and new possibilities when reminiscing about the project. Even today, Fiat Mio is a successful project studied worldwide. "When I look at the Mio, I see that we got it right, the collective got it right. A low-emission electric vehicle, a personal assistant, autonomous, with an interior that looks like the living room of our house, made with sustainable materials. That's magical to me! How did we predict the future?" Mateus reflects.
Words: Luiza Lages