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Fiat reignites LCV line-up

Big Daddy: Sales of Fiat’s largest van, the Ducato, are up by 38 per cent this year, compared to the same period in 2012.

Fiat to build brand awareness and expand LCV line-up in bid for local sales boost

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Fiat logo11 Oct 2013

FIAT Professional is looking to push its local light commercial vehicle (LCV) range with an expanded dealer network, more variants and drive-away pricing in a bid to boost its fortunes in Australia.

Since the Fiat Chrysler Group Australia was formed in May last year and took the reins of the Italian brand’s commercial range, the number of dealers has expanded from 16 to 52 nationally. Fiat Professional director Rob Moorcroft said the company is gunning for 60 sites.

While Mr Moorcroft did not discuss targets for light commercial sales volume, he said that Fiat Chrysler was keen to build brand awareness via a number of channels, including a new television commercial campaign airing soon. This will be the first time Fiat has advertised its commercial range on television.

Despite being the most awarded light commercial range in Europe, Mr Moorcroft said buyers are either unfamiliar with Fiat Professional in Australia or equate the brand with poor quality, a perception that he is keen to change.

“In Australia, some people say ‘Fix it again Tony,’ you never get away from it,” he said. “But I never get it with motor-homes and vans, which is interesting. It’s a well known name, just not a well known name in commercial vehicles, and we are trying to change that and let the world know what we are doing.” The Italian brand’s two-model LCV line-up currently consists of the small Scudo van, available in one specification, and the larger Ducato van in medium, long and extra-long wheelbase variants.

It is also providing potential buyers with an additional incentive by offering a five-year/300,000km warranty and three-years scheduled servicing on all Ducato models until December this year.

Fiat is looking to bolster its line-up next year with addition of new variants including a small truck, a cab chassis tray utility and a short-wheelbase version of the Ducato.

The Italian brand previously introduced a $32,000 drive-away price ($28,990 list price) for its Scudo range, and the company confirmed that the drive-away price is ongoing.

The Scudo undercuts most of its main rivals on price, with short-wheelbase diesel versions of the Ford Transit starting at $35,990 plus on-road costs, the Hyundai iLoad from $34,490, Mercedes-Benz Vito from $38,990, Toyota HiAce at $36,990 and the Renault Trafic from $34,990.

Incidentally, Renault is currently offering the Trafic diesel at $29,990 drive-away, but it is limited to the end of November only.

Naturally, the notably larger Ducato range commands a slightly higher price, with the medium wheel-base variant matched with the standard six-speed manual gearbox starting from $36,690 plus on-road costs. This version features a low roof, a 3450mm wheelbase, 1612kg payload and a loading volume of 10 cubic metres.

The same variant but with a higher roof, or ‘mid-roof’ in Fiat speak, is $39,590.

The long-wheelbase Ducato with mid roof has a 4035mm wheelbase, 13 cubic metre load volume, a payload of 1959kg and starts at $42,490 plus on-roads. Oddly, the extra-long wheelbase (XLWB) version has the same 4035mm wheelbase, and a smaller payload of 1914kg, but includes 15 cubic metres loading volume for $45,990.

Fiat does not currently offer drive-away pricing on the Ducato and the optional six-speed automated manual adds another $2900 to the cost.

Ducato sales have risen by 38 per cent to the end of September, compared to the same period last year, with 770 units shifted, up from 556. The big van’s market share in its segment has risen in the same period from 5.7 per cent to 7.5 per cent and is now outselling the Ford Transit Heavy, Renault Master, Volkswagen Crafter and the Iveco Daily.

Top dog in the segment is the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with a healthy 15 per cent market share and sales of 1557 for the year so far.

While the Scudo is up in sales by 67 per cent this year compared to last, its market share in segment is still relatively small on 1.3 per cent, up from 0.7 per cent last year.

With 152 sales so far in 2013, the Scudo trails more established van rivals such as the Toyota HiAce (4826 sales), Hyundai iLoad (3016 sales), Volkswagen Transporter (1464 sales), Mercedes-Benz Vito (756 sales) and the Renault Trafic (739 sales).

The front-wheel drive Ducato is powered by a 2.3-litre Multijet four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine producing 96kW/320Nm, but a more powerful 109kW/350Nm version of the same engine is available on XLWB versions.

Powering the Scudo is a smaller 2.0-litre four cylinder Multijet turbo-diesel engine driving the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox with an output of 88kW/300Nm.

Fiat says the lack of an optional automatic transmission in the Scudo is not a concern as 60 per cent of buyers in the light commercial van market choose a manual gearbox.

Standard gear in the Ducato includes air conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity with voice control, audio controls on steering wheel, heated mirrors, electric windows, cruise control and a bulkhead with a viewing window.

There are storage compartments and nooks all throughout the cabin, including a lockable central compartment large enough to carry a laptop computer and a refrigerated compartment that can hold a 1.5-litre bottle.

As well as the six-speed automatic transmission, options include a seconds sliding side door and the three-person bench seat.

Safety wise, the Ducato features a driver and passenger airbag, hill-hold assist, ESP with Anti Slip Regulation and Load Adaptive Control.

The Scudo’s standard equipment list features air conditioning, Bluetooth, MP3 and USB jack, cruise control, rear parking sensors, dual sliding doors, rear barn doors with heated windows, a driver’s side airbag and ESP with Anti Slip Regulation.

For extra cash, buyers can option a bench seat, thorax airbag, air suspension and a bulkhead with viewing window.

2013 Fiat Professional prices:

Scudo
LWB van $32,000 drive-away

Ducato
MWB \ LR $36,690 + on road costs
MWB \ MR $39,590 + on road costs
LWB \ MR $42,490 + on road costs
XLWB $45,990 + on road costs

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