One of the major attractions at the show was Fiat Professional’s unveiling of its Fullback pick-up truck. On sale on 24 June, it’s based on Mitsubishi’s L200 Series 5 model. Prices and specs will be announced in mid-May, but Ricky McFarland, Fiat Professional country manager for the UK, said: “We’ll have to be competitive on price.”
McFarland said Fiat would initially launch a flagship double-cab model to target the lifestyle market – “At first we want strong residual values and [to establish] a great perception of the vehicle” – then, in 2017, he said Fiat would introduce a single-cab version aimed at customers in the utility sector.
Despite the pick-up sector becoming highly competitive with a clutch of new entrants joining established players, McFarland insisted: “There is room in the segment for a Fiat. There is room to grow with the tax advantages”, referring to the VAT exemption.
“The pick-up is a huge brand builder. It’s desirable – we’ve never had a product so attractive before.”
Fiat Professional announced a sponsorship deal with the Football League at the NEC and the firm is entering a busy period with a hat-trick of models going on sale in June. Alongside the Fullback, the facelifted Fiorino small van and new Renault-Trafic derived Talento medium van will arrive in showrooms.
McFarland claimed the Talento represented a huge opportunity in opening up “34% of the market that we haven’t played in”.
He said Fiat had previously been held back through not having a competitive product in the sector, where the Talento’s predecessor, the Scudo, made little impression. McFarland gave a “very conservative” prediction of 1000 sales of the Talento for the second half of 2016.
“We are expanding the line-up and going in the right direction,” he said. “In the past we’ve been something of a bit player, but now we can challenge any manufacturer in Europe.”