Italian Police Block Fiat from Selling 134 Cars Because of This Tiny Flag

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Remember how Alfa Romeo’s smallest crossover was supposed to be called Milano? It was renamed Junior after Italian authorities weren’t thrilled with the original name. A local law blocked the Stellantis brand from using an Italian name on a vehicle made outside of the country shaped like a shoe. Well, something similar is happening again.

Another Stellantis brand, Fiat, is having problems selling the cute-as-a-bug Topolino in Italy. The city car–which is technically a quadricycle–sticks to its historic name but it must do away with the tiny Italian flag. No fewer than 134 Topolinos were seized by the Italian police at the Livorno port city in Tuscany. The culprit? The side flag located next to the door handle shouldn’t be there or in any other place for that matter.

The diminutive EV is not made in Italy as production takes place at the Kenitra factory in Morocco. It’s where sister models Citroën Ami and Opel Rocks Electric are also assembled. The law forbidding Fiat from using the Italian flag on a product made elsewhere dates to December 2003 and indicates:

“The import and export for the purpose of commercialization or the marketing or commission of acts directed unambiguously to the marketing of products bearing false or misleading indications of provenance or origin constitutes a crime and is punishable under Article 517 of the Penal Code.

It constitutes a false indication to stamp ‘made in Italy’ on products and goods not originating in Italy within the accordance with European regulations on origin. It constitutes a fallacious indication, even if the origin and provenance are indicated as foreign origin of the products or goods. The offender is punished with an administrative fine from 10,000 euros to 250,000 euros.”

Stellantis has no other way but to remove the flag to sell those seized Topolino cars. Although the pint-sized EV is not built domestically, the Italian motif was added because the quadricycle was developed in Turin, according to Fiat. A spokesperson for Stellantis told La Repubblica that Fiat has “operated in full compliance with the regulations,” making it crystal clear where the Topolino is built without trying to mislead customers. The company has agreed to remove the problematic sticker to unblock those 134 cars stuck at the port.

What’s odd about this whole story is that Fiat introduced the reborn Topolino a year ago. That means Italian authorities had plenty of time to alert Stellantis about the possibility of having their cars seized. It seems Fiat was expecting to get away with it, much like Alfa Romeo thought it would be ok to use “Milano” for its small crossover.  

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