The manufacturer targets supermarkets with new nine-speed transmission on its large van, James Dallas reports
Fiat Professional is introducing a fully automatic transmission to its facelifted Ducato large van with the aim of breaking into the supermarket delivery market.
The manufacturer’s UK boss Richard Chamberlain said that “it allows us to talk to more customers”, and added that taking clutch wear and tear out of the equation on delivery work involving frequent stop-starts would make the automatic Ducato “more durable for supermarkets”.
Fiat has identified the explosion in online shopping as the main driver for growth in large van sales and says 30% of Ducatos sold across Europe are already engaged in delivery work. The manufacturer says the old dual-clutch semi-auto transmission took 15% of sales.
In the UK, automatic versions of models such as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Iveco Daily currently dominate supermarket delivery fleets.
The upgraded Ducato, which is front-wheel drive, is powered by a Euro6D-compliant 2.3-litre Multijet 2 diesel engine with outputs of 120hp, 140hp, 160hp and 180hp replacing the previous range of 115hp, 130hp, 150hp and 180hp units. The manufacturer claims torque is increased by 5% on all engines bar the 180hp, which is up by 12.5%, and says it has improved fuel economy by as much as 10% across the line-up.
The new nine-speed automatic gearbox is available with the 160hp and 180hp engines now (July) and will be added to the 120hp and 140hp versions in September. It comes with three modes – Normal, Power and Eco – which the driver can select to best suit driving conditions and the performance required for the load on board.