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Fabryka Samochodów Osobowych SA
Type Joint stock company
Founded 1951
Headquarters Warsaw,  Poland
Key people Janusz Woźniak (Chairman)
Industry Automotive industry
Products Automobiles
Website FSO official website
Main gate of FSO in Warsaw

Fabryka Samochodów Osobowych (FSO) (literally translated as Factory for Passenger Automobiles) is a Polish automobile manufacturer, located in Warsaw.

Contents

The beginnings

Warszawas assembled at FSO in the early 1950s

The FSO plant was established in 1951 by the Polish government in Żerań on Warsaw's eastern bank of the river Vistula, to produce automobiles for post World War II Poland. The first FSO car was the Warszawa, manufactured under the Soviet GAZ-M20 Pobeda licence.

In 1953, an in-house team started working on the development of a smaller, popular car, resulting in the second FSO model, a two-stroke Syrena, being introduced in 1957. The Syrena was a completely proprietary design of FSO; its production was next moved to FSM car factory (Fabryka Samochodów Małolitrażowych).

The Polski Fiat and Polonez Era

Polski Fiat 125p sedans assembled at FSO around 1974
Polonez Kombi

In 1965, the Polish government signed license agreements with the Italian auto manufacturer Fiat to manufacture selected Fiat models in Poland, under the brand Polski Fiat. In particular, the Fiat 125 was to be manufactured at FSO to replace the outdated Warszawa. The resulting model, called Polski Fiat 125p, was in fact a simplified model with Fiat 1300/1500 mechanicals, and was exported for some time under the names Fiat 125p and later, after the license agreement ended, FSO 1300/1500. It was also produced in station wagon and pick-up variants. Meanwhile, the Warszawa was still manufactured concurrently until 1973.

In 1978, FSO introduced a new model, called Polonez, which was a 5-door compact car based on updated FSO 1500 design. The Polonez was also exported to many markets under the FSO brand. This model was initially to substitute all variations of the original 1500, but actually the production of the latter lasted until 1991, and both models were updated a few times during that period.

In 1986, the Renault 14 was copied by FSO. One prototype was built only, called the FSO Wars 1.3 S. [1]

The Fiat Polski 125P was produced until 26 June 1991. In total, 1,445,689 were manufactured. By that time the design was 24 years old and used mechanicals which were essentially 30 years old, with only minor improvements.

The Daewoo Era

After the structural transformations of 1989, the Polish government sought to privatise the FSO by finding an appropriate partner in one of international automakers. Despite many attempts and negotiations, this was not the case for many years. The first full-fledged venture started in 1994, when an agreement with General Motors was signed to assemble Opel Astra in Żerań. Nevertheless, the following year FSO was actually sold to the Korean Daewoo Motors, which was at that time independent of GM and actually competing with it. The company was then renamed Daewoo-FSO.

At first, Daewoo used FSO to assemble models such as Daewoo Nexia and Daewoo Espero. In 1997, the assembly and then full-fledged production of Daewoo Lanos commenced, followed in 1999 by the Daewoo Matiz. Other contemporary Daewoo models were also assembled. The production of Polonez was maintained, the model was modernized and new body styles were added. Nevertheless, waning demand led FSO to cease Polonez production in 2002.

Meanwhile, General Motors decided to build their own factory in Poland, in Gliwice, where the production of Opel Astra was relocated in 1998. GM's assembly line at FSO was then used for a short time to assemble Opel Vectra for the local market and then shut down completely, ending the relationship with General Motors.

Post-Daewoo FSO

Daewoo went bankrupt in 2000, leading to an acute deterioration of FSO's position. Daewoo Motors itself was bought out by General Motors (and its Asian partners), but overseas manufacturing subsidiaries such as Daewoo-FSO were not part of the deal. Therefore, FSO became de facto independent again.

Through lengthy negotiations, the Polish government secured FSO the rights to manufacture and sell the Lanos and the Matiz until 2007. Nevertheless, FSO did not have the means to update the models, so they quickly became less and less attractive, not to mention that Daewoo's collapse caused the buyers to become very wary of Daewoo cars. FSO found salvation in the Ukrainian market, where Matiz and Lanos, assembled by the local partner AvtoZAZ, became very popular. In 2004, Daewoo-FSO was renamed FSO again.

During that period, the Polish government was actively seeking a new strategic partner for FSO, but no major automaker expressed interest. Finally, FSO entered talks with the British MG Rover, but as talks progressed it became apparent that the British company, did not have the means to complete the deal, despite vague suggestions of the involvement of an (alternating) Chinese partner. MG Rover went into administration in 2005, putting an end to any hopes connected with it.

In view of that, the UkrAVTO holding, the current owner of ZAZ, became the only possible partner for FSO. The Ukrainian company became gradually a majority shareholder of FSO (84.31% of shares), while at the same time strengthening the cooperation between FSO and ZAZ. UkrAVTO suggested it will provide a new model for the FSO to manufacture after the Matiz and Lanos licenses expire. This might refer to the Sens, and updated (T150) version of the Lanos, currently assembled in Ukraine using parts supplied by FSO.

In the late 2005, the media started reporting that General Motors is believed to be in talks with both UkrAVTO and FSO itself concerning the assembly of GM Daewoo products for the European Union market (currently, all GM Daewoo products for EU markets are imported from South Korea, which makes them subject to EU customs duties). In the end of 2006, it was reported that FSO is preparing to start the production of the Chevrolet Aveo [2].

The production of new T250 model (Aveo) has already been commenced.

FSO Ogar

See also

External links

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