It’s fairly well known that the Fiat Professional Ducato is a popular choice of base vehicle for motorhome builders, but the extent to which the Italian brand dominates the sector is staggering. In fact, no fewer than three out of every four motorhomes sold in Europe are Ducato based, a level of dominance unheard of in motor manufacturing.
That hasn’t happened by accident though – since the Ducato was originally launched in 1981, Fiat Professional has consistently targeted the vehicle at the motorhome industry, leading the way with features aimed at the leisure sector. These have included early models having front wheel drive and traversely mounted engines to maximise space, to special low chassis versions and dedicated cabin trims.
To get a feel for how important the motorhome side of the business is for Fiat Professional, Caravan Cruise visited the home of Ducato, the Sevel plant near Atessa in Italy. Sevel stands for Società Europea Veicoli Leggeri” (European Light Vehicle Company), a joint cooperation established in 1978 between Fiat and PSA. The Sevel Sud plant in Italy is now the largest light commercial vehicle production facility in Europe, set to churn out around 300,000 vehicles this year – that’s 1,200 hundred a day, or more than one a minute. As well as Ducato, Peugeot Boxer and Citroen Relay / Jumper models in all their various versions are produced here. In fact if you factor in all the variants between the three brands, no less than 13,121 different types are produced in Sevel.
Now you might be thinking that while the figure of 75% motorhome market share is impressive, this sector still represents only a small part of overall Ducato output. In fact it accounts for the majority of Fiat Professional’s production – no less than 55% of all Ducatos end up as motorhomes. That’s a reflection of the burgeoning motorhome market in Europe – it has grown 49% in the last three years and is expected to grow a further 10% in 2018 to around 120,000 units. With those kind of figures it’s easy to see why Fiat Professional values its dominant position in this market so much.
Recognising the importance of the motorhome sector, Fiat Professional is this summer launching a dedicated logo – “Fiat Professional for Recreational Vehicles”. It’s to reflect not only the importance of the RV business to the brand, but to highlight the ancillary services available to owners of Fiat Ducato-based motorhomes. Notable is the dedicated Customer Care Centre which offers a range of special services only for motorhome owners via a dedicated toll-free number. There is also the option for extended warranty on mechanical and and electrical components, in addition to roadside assistance for up to five years via Fiat Professional’s Mopar Vehicle Protection “Maximum Care” Camper package.
Although it has produced the odd concept camping car from time to time, one area of the market that Fiat Professional is not interested in entering is the provision of complete vehicles for sale to end users. As Alessandro Sannia, FIAT Professional Product Manager for Recreational Vehicles & Converters explained to Caravan Cruise, “Why would we enter into competition against our own customers?” A position that in fairness is entirely logical given the extent to which the brand dominates the market for base vehicles.