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The Warsaw Voice » Other » November 5, 2008
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Fiat in reborn Poland
November 5, 2008   
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After Poland regained its long-awaited independence in 1918, it started to develop its car industry. Fiat was the first foreign company from the sector to enter the Polish market.

The Polish car industry was founded in 1919, with the establishment of military car repair shops. Two years later, these were transformed into Centralne Warsztaty Samochodowe, the first Polish company to manufacture passenger cars. Within a decade, Polish authorities had decided that instead of designing its own cars, Poland should join forces with a renowned car producer. Two companies were considered: Italy's Fiat and France's Citroen. The Italians offered better license terms and loan opportunities. On Sept. 21, 1931, an official from the management board of Państwowe Zakłady Inżynieryjne (PZInż) and Carlo Edoardo Schmidt, director of the Fiat Inspectorate for Central and Eastern Europe, signed a contract for the production of 10 cars a day over 10 years. Polski Fiat Spółka Akcyjna joint-stock company was born, with the task of developing technical facilities and a maintenance and repair system for the cars to be assembled and manufactured under license. PZInż and Fiat were its shareholders. It was the first time Fiat had granted a foreign partner a car production license.

On Aug. 6, 1932 the first Fiat 508 rolled off the line at the Fabryka Samochodów Osobowych i Półciężarowych car factory in Warsaw that had been created under the contract. Three years later, the assembly of trucks began. In 1937 the sales of all Polski Fiat cars in Poland reached 10,000 units. There were 30 service stations. The quality of the Warsaw-produced Fiats was evaluated high enough to export part of the production output.

Fiat operations were interrupted in September 1939 when German bombs fell on the plant. During the German occupation of Poland, the factory continued operations on a small scale until it was completely destroyed in 1944. It took Fiat some 20 years to return to Poland.
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