Fiat group as of today FULLY owns most other Italian car brands, such as Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati and most notably Ferrari. Fiat managed to acquire the most prestigious automotive brands by producing cheap cars that break often.
Fiat's car have traditionally had a reputation for being problematic, especially electricals. This in part is because as a nation, Italy was very poor after World War 2, and the public couldn't afford high quality cars, so quality control was almost non-existant.
The Panda in the 80s was a very popular little runaround, and was the real definition of a city car with its ultra low running costs.
After many years of constant jokes against the all round quality, as of mid 2000's, motoring experts are starting to warm more towards Fiat's cars. Now Fiat hopes to convince the public.