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Fiat: Ducato and niche models to fuel van growth

Date: 01 May 2013   |   Author:

Fiat Professional is constructing ambitious long-term growth plans that will initially be driven by a push into more conversions and niche applications as well as improving the dealer network.

The firm has appointed new dealers in areas including Norwich, Sheffield, the West Country and Oldham as it revamps the network, with the aim of an even split between passenger car

and heavy truck specialists taking on the Italian LCV franchise.

"They don't attack the same market and you can have the benefits of both," Fiat Professional UK director Sebastiano Fedrigo explained to BusinessCar.

"HGV dealers can do extended opening hours and tend to be bigger but hidden, so they are not so accessible for retail customers, and passenger car dealers have better showrooms and display space."

There is more work to be done, with the current level of 123 dealers set to reduce to what Fedrigo describes as an "ideal" 110, although if the firm's volume aspirations come to pass then the numbers could eventually swell to 160.

"We have to do it gradually. Our market share in Europe is 12% and in the eyes of my bosses there is no reason why it should not be at the same level here, but we want to do it organically and sensibly," he continued.

"We're looking for double-digit [share], not next year but it's in the back of our mind. It's going to take some years but there is no reason why not."

The opportunity for greater penetration of the conversion and niche vehicle sector has not gone unnoticed, with Fiat creating a new position of converter business development manager, filled by Andy Parker, in order to exploit the sector in the wake of the type approval legislation changes for LCV conversions.

"We need to get closer to bodybuilders," said Fedrigo, pointing

to developments adorning the brand's stand at the CV Show, including a Ducato Tipper built by VFS, a Fiorino crew van built with Snoeks, a Scudo crew van converted locally by Snoeks, and factory-built Doblo XL and Doblo Work Up models.

Next up is a vehicle previewed by being parked outside the show last week - a low-floor 18m3 3.5-tonne Ducato low-floor van developed with Trucksmith, while more moves into the refrigeration sector with the Doblo are also under consideration.