Fiat Ducato achieves sales of two million units
Filed under: News
The Fiat Ducato achieved a major milestone as its production total rose to two million units since the launch of the first version in 1981.
The Ducato has been a much-loved vehicle for more than 25 years: it is popular with self-employed workers such as tradespeople, shopkeepers and farmers. It is a favourite of big companies and special clients such as local authorities, the police, government departments and health authorities. It is much appreciated by bodyshops-converters specialising in the leisure sector (campers, caravans, motorhomes) or special public transport (minibuses, school buses, ambulances, disabled vehicles) and goods (box trucks, insulated trucks, armoured vehicles for transporting valuables, mobile shops).
The reasons for this vehicle’s success lie in the great versatility that it has shown over more than a quarter of a century. The Ducato was introduced in 1981 and grew year after year until the turning point in 1994, when the second generation was launched. The stylists then no longer saw it as a single basic model with many specification variants but instead as a number of different vehicles specialised for different payload categories and operational missions. And the designers succeeded in producing no fewer than 2000 variants.
The public immediately confirmed that the chosen formula was the right one: sales and market shares exceeded expectations right from the first year of sale and the trade press acknowledged the Ducato's innovative importance by awarding it the prestigious title of “Van of the Year 1994”.
The year 2000 brought the debut of the Ducato 2.8 JTD “Common Rail” offering 127 bhp and 300 Nm of torque that soon became the most popular vehicle in the range. 2002 saw the advent of the third generation vehicle whose strength lay in its many.... strengths! The vehicle is even more flexible, innovative, dynamic and satisfying to look at and use in everyday activities.
The Ducato's success stems from the intrinsic value of the product, from the quality of its design, from the professionalism of the people who make it and the agreement between Fiat and PSA. This was signed in 1978 and led to the setting up of a joint venture that was recently extended to 2017 and the Sevel plant in Val di Sangro, which became the production site of the Ducato and the corresponding PSA models (vehicles that both the Manufacturers market independently). Total production is increasing so fast that output has stabilised at more than 250,000 vehicles per year.
So much for the vehicle's history, a tale of great innovation and ability to stay one step ahead of the market at all times. In the present day, the Ducato continues with this tradition of innovation, going forward into the future with new versions and specifications able to satisfy the needs of all types of customer and the changing scenario in which commercial transport is forced to operate.
The special Fiat engine is particularly worthy of note: a 2.3 Multijet 16 valve Euro 4 engine offering 120 bhp of power and 320 Nm of torque. The unit offers fuel consumption 23 percent lower than the previous generation of Ducato vehicles, servicing at 45,000 km intervals and a particulate filter available as an option.
The top-of-the-range power unit, the 160 Multijet Power (157 bhp and 400 Nm), is remarkable for offering great driving satisfaction, due to its extraordinary attributes of flexibility, perennially prompt response to power demands and outstandingly low noise levels.
The innovative mechanical and engineering features on this engine have made it possible to increase the oil change interval to every 45,000 km or 24 months, to offer a ‘for life’ timing chain – and to offer an exclusive 6-speed robotised gearbox known as the Comfort-Matic - plus a particulate filter as an option.
Another feather in the Ducato’s cap is its array of infotelematic devices, notably the sophisticated Blue&Me Nav, an innovative system that arose as a result of a joint venture between Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft, offering satellite navigation via pictograms that can be activated by voice commands and country maps stored on the USB memory stick provided. Because of its Bluetooth technology, you can also make and receive phone calls, listen to incoming text messages and your favourite music by connecting your USB memory stick, without taking your hands from the wheel.
Visitors to the recent Hanover Motor Show were also able to admire the Ducato Natural Power, with its dual methane and petrol fuel system, due to go on sale from April 2009. Fiat Group Automobiles considers that methane-driven power units are currently the most appropriate choice of technology and immediately available to solve pollution problems in urban areas. This is because the use of methane has positive implications in terms of environmental benefits bringing a reduction of approximately 23% in CO2 emissions and a reduction of PM emissions to practically zero. Methane has also proved itself to be a viable financial alternative to traditional fuels (diesel and petrol), which are increasingly subject to rising prices. This means Ducato drivers can circulate in town centres with traffic restrictions and also park their vehicles in garages in absolute safety. Methane distribution networks are also multiplying: there are currently more than 600 plants in Italy with plans for the opening of some 100 new refuelling stations before long.
Fiat Professional aims to use its Natural Power versions of the Ducato to reinforce its leadership in the sector still further: in 2007, the brand was responsible for 47% of methane-driven commercial vehicle sales in Europe and 66.8% in Italy.
All the Ducato’s winning and innovative features make it a veritable 'manifesto’ for Fiat Professional. The model perfectly exemplifies the brand’s new strategies, its different approach to the commercial vehicle concept and its new way of seeing design, production and sales.