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Fiat Doblo to go solo for now

Off the table: The passenger van version of the Doblo is not on Fiat Professional’s local agenda for now.

Doblo Passenger variants hold for now as Fiat concentrates on vans

4 Dec 2014

FIAT PROFESSIONAL will not import the passenger versions of the Doblo light van into Australia in the foreseeable future, as it focuses on establishing it against the top-selling Caddy.

However, the situation may be revisited sometime during 2016, when the facelifted version of the van – unveiled internationally at the Hannover commercial vehicle expo in Germany in September – is scheduled to arrive in this country.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the Doblo in Melbourne this week, Fiat Professional product director Zac Loo said that while nothing is off the table product wise, the company wants to ensure there is a ready market for the models it brings into this country.

“There are currently no plans to bring the passenger versions of the Doblo to the Australian market,” he said. “But we’re always assessing opportunities and if we see there’s demand for it then we will look at it again.”

Mr Loo revealed that Fiat Professional has already undertaken studies assessing the potential of bringing in a Caddy Life competitor Down Under, but the nature of the market in Australia means that there is not much call for dual-purpose vehicles.

“It works well as a passenger van but generally Australian buyers don’t want to compromise. We’re not closed to it, but our research shows that’s not what people want. We’ve driven it, it’s perfectly capable, but we’re not so sure there’s a market for it.

“Presently the Doblo is designed as a van first and is bought for that reason.

As a passenger van there’s reasonable cabin width, lots of headroom but not that much knee room.” Known as the Doblo Combi, the two-row, five-seat passenger van version is offered in a number of different body-styles, including low-roof, high-roof, short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase configurations.

As with the Caddy Life, the side doors are glazed sliding affairs, with between 790 and 1050 litres of cargo capacity available, depending on vehicle length.

It has been sold alongside the van version since the second-generation Doblo debuted in 2009. The series was introduced in Europe during 2000 and is built in Turkey.

Fiat Professional’s hesitation bringing the passenger-carrying version of the Doblo to Australia is understandable, given the performance of its German rival.

Year-to-date sales for the Volkswagen Caddy people-mover variant are down 60 per cent, with just 113 finding homes in Australia to the end of November. Last year that figure was 281 units.

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