Among the consequences could be the launch of special-edition Dailys bearing the All Blacks logo, although they will not appear immediately. Adidas is among the team's other leading sponsors.

The initiative reflects a new mood of confidence at the Fiat-owned manufacturer, despite a disappointing sales performance in Britain in 2006.

“We boosted our profitability from 3.7 per cent in 2004 to an estimated six per cent last year on a turnover of €9bn,” says chief executive officer, Paolo Monferino. “We aim to reach double-digit profitability by the end of the decade — the target is 10.4 per cent on a €10 euro turnover — and we're confident we can achieve it.”

2008 will see the debut of a new Eurocargo — a key player in the 7.5-tonner market — while a new light commercial platform will appear in 2010. “Remember that light commercials (ie Daily) represent 27 per cent of our total business,” says Monferino.

Fiat Auto chief executive Sergio Marchionne has firmly scotched any suggestion that the group might be planning to dispose of Iveco.

“We have an unwavering commitment to it,” he says. “Of all of our divisions Iveco is the one with the highest profit potential and we intend to develop it into a full-range truck manufacturer on a global scale.”

On the global stage Iveco finalised three joint-ventures in China last year and is active in India, Turkey and South America thanks to Fiat's presence in all three places.

While the All Blacks sponsorship has its undoubted positives, there are some potential negatives too.

Although there are plenty of rugby fans on this side of the Channel, and in France and Italy, the sport doesn't have much of a following in Germany; a big buyer of light commercials. And supporters who love their own national teams with a passion are unlikely to want to buy a van displaying an All Blacks logo.