Particular interest centres round the vehicle output of Fiat of Turin, because they are now the largest motor manufacturers in Europe, having beaten Volkswagen’s record—a fact which has cost one reader of Safer Motoring, the VW magazine, a brand-new 1968 Beetle for contradicting a contributor who had said that Fiat output for 1967 was greater than VW’s. In fact, the contributor concerned accepted instead the value of a new VW, which he sent to the Wolfsburg charity Lebenshilfe e.V. as his 1954 VW was running so well that a new one was unnecessary.
Now Fiat have issued their 1968 production figures, the total last year was 1,450,000 units, which includes OM and Autobianchi, or an increase of 109,116 (6%) over the 1967 total. The value in terms of sales was £892,617,000, an 11% increase over the previous year’s takings—big business indeed. Exports rose by 138,000 to 535,000 and 300,000 more vehicles were manufactured or assembled under overseas licences, an increase of 60,000. This places Fiat in the lead in Europe, ahead of Volkswagen, and fourth in World motor vehicle production, behind General Motors, Ford and Chrysler in America. Good cars and good publicity are a certain road to success!
Apart from cars, Fiat steel production equalled the 1967 figure of 1,950,000 ingot-tons and employment in the three groups, Fiat, Autobianchi and OM, rose to 157,000 (127,500 in the factories, 29,500 in the offices, an increase of 11,000 over 1967).
Such massive output has resulted in the rather harsh query on the part of Penthouse, a non-motoring monthly : “Why isn’t the B.M.C.-Leyland Combine up there ? Volkswagen sells reliability and Fiat sells flair and value? What does Leyland-B.M.C. sell?” We hope that soon Sir Donald Stokes will be able to show them.