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Autobianchi

Autobianchi

Autobianchi was an Italian automobile manufacturer, created jointly by Bianchi, Pirelli and Fiat in 1955. The history of Autobianchi started from the Bianchi company. Bianchi, founded by Edoardo Bianchi in 1885 and now remembered primarily as a bicycle manufacturer, was also active in passenger car manufacturer from 1899. In the early 50s, Bianchi's general manager, Ferruccio Quintavalle, wanted to take advantage of the company's extensive experience in manufacturing cars and ordered the preparation of studies and prototypes of possible new models. Soon it became apparent that resuming passenger car production would not be feasible without a help of stronger partner. Therefore, Bianchi turned to large industrial groups Fiat and Pirelli with a proposal to form a new company to produce automobiles. Thus, the Autobianchi company was born, with the agreement signed by the three parties on 11 January 1955 and share capital of 3 million lira, 33% of which belonged to the Bianchi family. A new, modern, purpose-built plant for the production of Autobianchi cars was erected on an area of 140,000 square metres in Desio.

Each of the partners had a clearly defined role and interest in the venture. Fiat was to provide the technical base and components for the assembly of the cars. It was seeking to capture the premium niche of the small car market, at that time occupied by coachbuilders such as Moretti and Vignale, who were building their models on Fiat chassis. Pirelli, which was to supply tires for the cars, sought to expand their OEM market share. Bianchi, was assigned the duties of preparing the bodies and assembling complete vehicles; a step towards their desired return to full passenger car production.

Facing a crisis in the motorcycle market, Bianchi was forced to sell its share in Autobianchi and the company was finally fully integrated into Fiat SpA in 1968. Moreover, Autobianchi was positioned within the Fiat Group under the control of the newly-acquired luxury marque Lancia. The Desio plant was finally closed in 1992. The final Autobianchi model was Autobianchi Y10, better known as Lancia Y10.

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