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Fiat Doblo is go for Aus

Van plan: Fiat has confirmed the Doblo light commercial van (left) for an Australian launch early to mid next year.

Doblo light van set to boost Fiat’s commercial presence and eat into VW Caddy sales

11 Oct 2013

FIAT will target Volkswagen and Renault with its Caddy-sized Doblo light commercial van, confirmed for an Australian berth in the first half of next year.

At an event to re-launch its light commercial line-up this week, Fiat Professional director Rob Moorcroft said the quirky Doblo would go on sale in 2014 in both short and medium-wheelbase guise with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, and manual and automatic transmissions.

Pricing and specification will be announced closer to launch, but Mr Moorcroft said he was hoping to take a bite out of the dominant Volkswagen Caddy in the local LCV market.

“That market is controlled by one brand and it doesn’t have a lot of competition,” he said. “I’m about to give it some and I am very passionate about knocking it off.” “Caddy owns 70 per cent of the market and that’s nothing to hide from. I’d like 10 per cent of it next year but I’m going after a lot more than that.” Volkswagen has sold 1599 units of the Caddy to the end of September this year, marking a 12 per cent boost over the same period last year.

It consumes a whopping 65 per cent of the total light van segment in Australia, well ahead of Suzuki’s APV van on 15 per cent, while the Renault Kangoo sits in third place with nine per cent share for the year.

In Europe, Fiat offers a passenger version of the Doblo with the option of seven seats. Mr Moorcroft said this would not join the commercial version at launch, but it would be evaluated down the track.

Fiat’s smaller Fiorino light van that sits under the Doblo is also a chance for an Australian berth, but Mr Moorcroft said this would depend on the performance of its larger sibling in the local market.

“It depends how Doblo goes and what market there is,” he said.

“We are looking at the current model of what the LCV market is. We are trying to fit in with what are Benz doing, what are VW doing, how do we play in those fields.

“I think it’s important to look outside of those fields. What aren’t people doing that possibly could work, and I think Fiorino fits into that bracket. We are looking at it, there is no two ways about it.” Fiat also confirmed it will introduce more variants to its Ducato large van range next year, including a short-wheelbase version with an automatic transmission.

This will help fill the gap in its line-up caused by a lack of automatic transmissions in its mid-size Scudo range.

Other Ducato variants on the way next year include a 12-seat van that is set to compete with the Toyota HiAce that dominates the segment with a 95 per cent market share, as well as the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter buses.

The Australia-spec variant is a 14-seat bus with two seats removed for improved luggage space. Mr Moorcroft said the extra room would give the Ducato enough ammunition to take on Toyota.

“If you look at the biggest seller in that market at the moment, you have to tow a trailer to carry luggage. You can’t stand up in it, ours you can stand up in. Ours is lower to the ground at point of entry - it’s got a lot of things happening,” he said.

Mr Moorcroft confirmed Fiat would launch a tray utility version of the Ducato next year as well as a pantech small truck, aimed at rental markets.

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