Badge warfare: Fiat Topolinos seized by Italian government | CAR Magazine

Badge warfare: Fiat Topolinos seized by Italian government

Published: 21 May 2024 Updated: 21 May 2024

► Fiat’s cutesy urban EV falls victim to the Milano effect
► Italian officials say it can’t legally wear an Italian flag badge…
► … because it’s assembled in Morocco, not Italy

The Italian government is at war with Stellantis. In April 2024, officials pressured Alfa Romeo to change the name of its new electric SUV from Milano to Junior. They stated that it was illegal for a car built in Poland to bear the name of Italy’s second city, as the badge risked misleading consumers about the car’s origins.

Now, Fiat has been beaten with the same piece of legislation. The Italian government has impounded a shipment of Topolino microcars at the port of Livigno, simply because they wear small Italian flag badges on their doors. Officials say that makes the cars illegal to sell in Italy because they were assembled in Morocco.

Fiat has said it will remove the badges from the cars to make them compliant with the legislation. However, the carmaker also justified its actions by reminding officials that the Topolino was penned in its design centre in Turin – so, Fiat believes the car is an honest product of Italian workmanship.

In an official statement, Fiat denied any deliberate wrongdoing saying: ‘Fiat has always been clear in its communication about the country of production. We believe that we have operated in full compliance with the regulations, transparently communicating the country of production of the Topolino, without any deceptive intent towards consumers.’

The so-called Made in Italy law is a piece of legislation designed to prevent fraudulent ‘Italian sounding’ goods from entering the market. One of the main reasons for the law’s existence was the booming global trade of forged (and poorer quality) Italian foodstuffs.

A simple example of the law in action is Prosecco. For a sparkling wine to be legitimately called Prosecco, it must have been grown, produced and packaged in north-east Italy, in the regions of Veneto or Friuli Venezia Giulia using the Prosecco grape.

By Luke Wilkinson

Deputy Editor of Parkers. Unhealthy obsession with classic Minis and old Alfas. Impenetrable Cumbrian accent