The fact that so much of Fiat’s range consists of rebadged products from other manufacturers (the Talento for example is a rebadged Renault Trafic and the Fullback pick-up is a rebadged Mitsubishi L200) does not appear to concern Richard Chamberlain.
With Renault Trucks until last November, he has just been appointed Fiat Professional’s UK country manager. He pointed to the quality of aftersales back-up delivered by the Italian manufacturer’s 151 dealer outlets, half of which are twinned with truck franchises.
“Our sales were up 11% in the first quarter of the year,” he observed.
“Customers realise that a lot of van makers use each others’ powertrains and chassis and they are used to it,” he continued. “These days, a lot of their decision-making centres around their relationship with the people they are dealing with and the expertise of the dealer and the manufacturer.”
Fiat Professional is placing renewed emphasis on its conversions programme, with Ducato-based end- and three-way tippers sourced from the factory and built by Scattolini, along with dropsides built by San Marco. Chamberlain has his doubts about electric light commercials, however.
“How big is the market and how much are people really prepared to pay for electric vans?” he asked. “And are those sales likely to amount to anything more than tokenism?
“Remember that the level of NOx emissions from Euro6 diesels is very small and that if you have a scrappage scheme that gets rid of Euro4 and older diesels then that implies that anything newer is acceptable,” said Chamberlain. “So why go electric?”
While he extolled the virtues of Fiat Professional’s dealers, it was interesting to note that the Fullback pick-up is being sold through the car network too as Fiat makes a play for the leisure market. The main tool it will be wielding will be the well-equipped Fullback Cross, which will debut on this side of the Channel later this year.
Features will include bigger side steps and a new grille with what Fiat describes as matt black ingots.