Fiat is finally axing the Mille, an updated Uno

Fiat is finally axing the Mille, an updated Uno

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Several models were axed by the end of 2013 following a Brazilian federal government mandate requiring ABS brakes and front airbags from January 2014, although market demands also played a part.

Ford’s Courier light pickup was the first down, last April.  By the end of the year the list included Volkswagen's Kombi (which has had a water cooled though still rear mounted engine for years), Fiat's Mille (based on the 1983 Uno) and old Fiorino, the unique Brazilian Ford Ka and the Gol Mk IV (which could be fitted with the safety gear but has given way to the much newer Up).

In some cases, old models will continue with the required updates. The previous generation Ford Fiesta Rocam (named after its engine) will live on for some months until the new Ka arrives. The Chevrolet Classic (made since 1995) and Celta will continue with airbags and ABS added.

VW Brazil stopped making the Golf Mk IV (updated from the original) in December 2013 and this will be phased out during 2014 as stocks run out.

The Kombi - the Type 2 - was first assembled from CKD kits in Brazil in 1953 and that first generation was manufactured here from 1957 until 1975 - it was replaced in most other markets in 1967. The second generation, sold in most other markets from 1967 till 1979, has been built in Brazil since 1975 though with updates - tighter emissions laws prompted the change from air cooled to water cooled engines in 2005.

The last 99 were shipped to British company Danbury, via Southampton, and will be converted to right hand drive and fitted out as motor caravans. 

Fiat's Uno, known more recently as the Mille, has remained in production in Brazil for 30 years with relatively few changes.

Fiat now markets the Palio Fire (from two generations back) priced similarly to the Mille (a Grazie Mille special final edition is on sale now) and some improvements in finish, features and warranty.

The VW Gol Mk IV was even older than the Mille - it had been built since 1980. The Gol Mk V uses the more modern Polo architecture with engine mounted transversely instead of 'north-south'.

There was some discussion towards the end of 2013 about postponing the airbag and ABS mandate for two years exclusively for the Kombi. The suggestion came from the São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo state metalworkers union which represents the people who built it.

The suggestion - on the grounds the vehicle was never designed to have airbags or ABS and would be difficult to reengineer - was welcomed by finance minister Guido Mantega who was concerned the new safety equipment would hike entry level models' prices but negative media and public comment ensured no reprieve for the Kombi.

After all, automakers had had five years to either phase out or reengineer their old models to take ABS and airbags, a very reasonable timeframe.

The last minute attempt to exempt the VW was embarrassing for both the auto industry and most of the federal government.