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Dubai show: Fiat lines up at Fullback

Mixed marriage: Italy’s Fiat is set to launch a pick-up of Japanese parentage and Thai manufacture under the un-Italian name of Fullback.

Fiat’s Mitsubishi Triton-based Fullback one-tonner a chance for Australia

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Fiat logo11 Nov 2015

By RON HAMMERTON in DUBAI

FIAT’S debut one-tonne ute, a rebadged Mitsubishi L200 Triton called Fullback, made its global debut at the Dubai motor show today ahead of its rollout across the Middle East, Africa and Europe in the second quarter of 2016.

While Fiat Professional says it has no immediate plans to sell the Fullback in Australia, Fiat executives at the Dubai event would not rule it out, even pointing to the availability of right-hand drive (thanks to Triton), production proximity to the Australian market (Mitsubishi’s Thai plant) and large market potential as positives for a relatively painless launch Down Under.

Said Fiat Professional head of brand, Dominic Gostoli: “We are open to every possibility.”

When it comes to the Australian market, Mr Gostoli is well aware of the potential for one-tonne utes – he was until the middle of this year the Asia-Pacific vehicle brand manager for Iveco trucks, based in Melbourne.

Mr Gostoli said Fiat Professional was currently focussing on getting Fullback established in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, and was not yet ready to talk about expansion plans.

“At this moment, I cannot tell you other markets,” he said, but then added: “You can use your imagination.”

Mr Gostoli also left the door open for further collaboration with Mitsubishi, saying the Fullback was “the start of a new chapter in our life”.

In Melbourne, FCA Australia corporate communications director Lucy McLellan told GoAuto: "At this stage, there are no plans to bring Fiat Fullback to the Australian market.”

The Fullback – so named because of the rugged connotations of tough rugby and American football players – is readily recognisable as a Triton knock-off, with identical sheetmetal.

The biggest changes are to the grille, bumpers and interior, but the powertrains, chassis and steering are all pure Mitsubishi.

Available in a full range of body styles – single cab, cab-chassis, extra cab and dual cab – the Fullback will have a choice of petrol and diesel engines, depending on the market.

In the Middle East and Africa, the Fullback will be available with a 2.5-litre diesel in two states of tune – 81kW and 131kW – and a 2.4-litre petrol engine delivering 97kW.

Five-speed manual and automatic transmissions will be available.

 Elsewhere, Fullback will be available with a 2.4-litre aluminium turbo diesel engine with two power outputs - 113kW and 133kW - combined with a new six-speed manual gearbox or five-speed automatic transmission with sports mode.

 Also, buyers will be able to choose between all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive.

While the Fullback appears to be a chance for Australia, Fiat Professional has ruled out the smaller Strada ute – sold in Latin and South America – for Australia.

In Australia, Fiat Professional – the commercial vehicle arm of the Italian brand – has notched up 1191 vehicle sales this year, a rise of 6.2 per cent in a market segment that has grown just 1.6 per cent.

Its star performer is the Ducato van and cab-chassis light truck range, which is the darling of motor-home manufacturers.

To the end of October, Fiat Professional had sold 938 Ducatos, plus 110 Doblos and 143 Scudos.

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