FIAT’S all-new Fiorino has just been voted International Van of the Year 2009.
It did so with a pretty comprehensive score of 112 points from a possible 140.
And it’s the van’s many novel features that so impressed a jury of journalists from 20 European countries.
Indeed, the key to its success, apparently, is the model’s effective creation of a new sector within the 1B light commercial vehicle segment.
Previous LCVs have grown, leaving a gap at the lower end of the market. The Fiorino responds with bespoke functionality; loads of between 610 and 660kg can be carried, volumes of up to 2.5 cubic meters held, while basic internal length of 1.5 metres stretches to 2.5 metres with the passenger seat folded down.
This gives a total potential capacity of 2.8 cubic metres.
That’s all within a compact 3.86m long vehicle, making it bang on the money for city centres. A tight 9.95 metre turning circle enhances this manoeuvrability.
Also sold as the Peugeot Bipper and Citroen Nemo, the Fiat comes with a 1.4-litre petrol, or a 1.3-litre diesel that does 62.7mpg, and emits 119g/km of CO2. 18,000-mile service intervals are part of real advances in maintenance and repair cost control.
As for the environment, Fiat says gas-powered versions will arrive – along with an electric-powered model, too! There will also be a variant for use on low-grip rural roads; it will have raised ground clearance and a special high-traction drivetrain.
The wider market
THE Fiorino is entering a van world that is, unsurprisingly, under attack. The used market is a real illustration of this: Manheim’s first monthly van market analysis makes for gloomy reading.
August prices fell by nearly 5 per cent – mainly due to supply far outstripping demand. Overall volumes in the sector are up a shocking 26 per cent over last year.
Prices in almost every segment fell, and there were some real headline-grabbers within this; refrigeration units down nearly 30 per cent, messing units down 18 per cent, tippers down 12 per cent.
The only glimmers of hope? Boxes and Lutons were up 5.5 per cent, large panel vans grew by 3.2 per cent, 4x4s edged up 0.4 per cent.
Of course, the fact that, this time last year, stock was in such short supply shouldn’t be forgotten. RVs reflect that; they were averaging 28 per cent last year. Now, they’re down to 21 per cent. Blame the gloomy macro-economic outlook of 2008, says Manheim.
Alex Wright, sales director, commercial vehicles at Manheim said: ‘The outlook for the rest of the year still remains uncertain, albeit the current price falls are generally commensurate with seasonal patterns.
‘This may indicate a level of stability arising, but the big proviso is, of course, the dependency on continued activity in the retail market. It is likely that a combination of high stock levels and continued economic instability will serve to keep pressure on prices, as trade buyers look to only replace sold stock, rather than just speculatively invest.’
Heavens. So is there any good news? ‘The positive message for vendors is that there is still demand in the market, but that every effort should be made to ensure vehicles are hitting the market in the right condition and with realistic reserve prices.’
Fiesta van debuts
Ford has tried to put this LCV gloom to one side for a moment, by unveiling the new Fiesta van at the Hannover CV show.
Coming to the UK in spring 2009, the new model is derived from the all-new platform of the funky-looking hatch hitting showrooms right now.
It is an immediate winner in one regard. Running costs are more imperative than ever before – and, with combined fuel consumption of up to 67.3mpg, and CO2 emissions of 110g/km, the Fiesta surpasses anything else in this sector.
No load volume data is yet available, but Ford reckons it will exceed 1000 litres.
‘A commercial vehicle is not just a tool that has to deliver goods in a reliable and cost-efficient way – it’s also a business card,’ said Steve Kimber, Ford of Britain’s CV director.
‘The all-new Fiesta van shares many of its key qualities with the car on which it is based. From its driving quality to the latest technologies, this is a practical van for today’s image-conscious business world.’
Trick additions include the EasyFuel system – so the 1.2-litre petrol can’t be filled with diesel intended for the 1.4-litre or 1.6-litre diesels. Bluetooth wireless mobile phone operation is also available.
Ford promises more details will follow next year – along with the much-anticipated prices!