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Poor Fiat Topolinos Stopped at Italian Border for Flying Illegal Italian Colors

Italy's "Made in Italy" task force claims the Topolinos can't wear the Tricolore if they were assembled in Morocco.
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Fiat and parent company Stellantis have found themselves in hot water again for allegedly violating the “Made in Italy” law, which either the Italian government apparently takes very seriously or Fiat is somehow just woefully unaware of the provisions in the strict law. A shipment containing dozens of Fiat Topolino EVs was blocked from entering the country because the Topolinos reportedly ran afoul of regulation by bearing Italian flags when they are, in fact, assembled in Morocco, per Automotive News.

Italy’s financial police and customs agents seized a total of 134 Fiat Topolino EVs at Tuscany’s Port of Livorno, as Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports. The daily cites members of the Italian authorities saying of the Topolinos, “…they are not Italian, they cannot display the tricolor on their side, they violate the law.” The tiny EVs are built across the Mediterranean in Morocco rather than in “Il Bel Paese,” one of Italy’s unofficial nicknames meaning the beautiful country. The Topolinos’ foreign assembly is clearly a cost-cutting measure, and Stellantis has said in the past that producing vehicles can knock thousands off the retail price of models such as the Alfa Romeo Junior née Milano, which required a name change because it was being produced in Poland.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares has been adamant about foreign production being necessary to lower the price of upcoming models and EVs so these can reach critical mass in Europe and enable carmakers in the EU to fend off the risk of cheap Chinese EVs overtaking the market.

Of course, the Italian government has taken exception to foreign production for a couple of reasons: the first is that Italy jealously guards the “Made in Italy” brand, which is reserved for products that are designed, manufactured, and packed in the country. There’s even a specific branch of the government that oversees infractions against the brand, as well as a national holiday held on the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, April 15. The second reason is that Italy has invested millions of euros into Stellantis in the form of public endowments precisely so that the automaker can keep production in the country and avoid laying auto workers off.

Ministero delle Imprese e del Made in Italy 

Now that some Fiat models are being built abroad, the government has been at odds with Stellantis and has begun scrutinizing its branding practices to the point of forcing the automaker to refrain from using anything that would even suggest models such as the Alfa Romeo Junior and Fiat Topolino are made in Italy.

Given their foreign provenance in Morocco, the Topolinos can’t legally bear any symbols that might confuse buyers into thinking they are “Made in Italy,” such as, say, the flag or tricolore. The funny thing is that the Topolinos bear the flag in the form of stickers, which are meant to honor the country of the Topolino’s development—Stellantis maintains the tiny EVs were designed in Turin, Italy, but built in Morocco to lower their price to an accessible amount of just €9,890, or $10,749 at current exchange rates. Keep in mind, the Topolino is classified as a quadricyle rather than a car like its cousin, the Citroën Ami, which was not developed in Italy.

Stellantis denies violating any laws, and says it will be removing the stickers from the Topolinos so that the EVs can be allowed to legally enter the country. I mostly can’t wait for the aftermarket to respond to this with OEM+ stickers of the Italian flag that some folks will want to playfully slap back on the doors of their Topolinos and restore them to their true stock form.

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