Italy flags up fury to Fiat over use of tricolour for cars made abroad

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A row between Italian premier Giorgia Meloni and Fiat owner Stellantis has been halted by Fiat agreeing to remove the Italian flag from the bumper of Fiat 600 cars actually made in Poland.

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The agreement between the Italian government is the latest in a row with Stellantis which last month said it would rename Alfa Romeo’s Milano SUV, also produced in Poland.

The Italian premier and her ministers have accused Stellantis of misleading buyers of their cars through the use of the “Italian-sounding” moniker.

Italy’s industry minister Adolfo Urso explained: “A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is forbidden by Italian law.

“This law stipulates you cannot give indications that mislead consumers … a car called Milano must be produced in Italy.” The car is now called Junior.

Stellantis has continuously denied the accusations, including the one involving the use of the Italian flag, arguing the flag symbolises “the entrepreneurial origin of the product”. It agreed to remove the flag from its Fiat 600 SUVs to “prevent any misunderstandings”.

The car manufacturer said in a statement, that it was “operating with complete and absolute transparency regarding the place of assembly of its products.

It added: “Stellantis is firmly convinced that it has always acted with complete propriety in this regard.”

Fiat car making has branched out

Italian police last week seized more than 130 Fiat Topolino cars that had been imported from Morocco, where they were made, because they were carrying a sticker with the colours of the Italian flag on their doors.

Stellantis is based in the Netherlands and came about through the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the France-based PSA Group in 2021. Meloni has previously criticised the merger of the two companies, saying it was effectively a “takeover by the French”.

France has a stake in the business and a seat on the board of Stellantis but Italy’s attempts to gain representation has been turned down by John Elkann, the biggest investor in Stellantis and also the head of the Agnelli family, the family that started the business that became Italy’s largest car manufacturer.

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