An analysis of the financial structure and of the economic performance during the last twelve years has been carried out on the automotive industry. This study commenced with the examination of the balance sheets of both FIAT Auto and its competitors. The author reached the conclusion that the main reasons for the present crisis of FIAT Auto were a progressive decline, since 1996, of the value added by its manufacturing cycle, deterioration of its marketing strategy and insufficient capacity utilization. The effect of all these factors on FIAT Group was that its financial debts reached a level incompatible with potential profits. Current managerial improvements are interesting but still insufficient. FIAT's European, Japanese and USA competitors faced the same problems, but they were able to overcome these.