FIAT Professional has a new CEO of Europe, the Middle East and Africa – Domenico Gostoli and Business Vans caught up with the ex-Iveco man at a recent meeting on a fleeting visit to the UK.
In a passionate and open meeting with UK van media, Gostoli revealed his plans for the Fiat Professional brand and future models plans.
His first job is to work on the credibility of the brand, which in his words is: “not perceived as it should be.”
“We need to put the customer first and see the affect of each reaction on the customer.”
He also accepted that the connection between Fiat Professional centres and the market could be better. In his words: “They need to be more reactive and change the communication chain, to speed the reaction.”
I want our people to believe in the company and deliver new ideas for it
“I want our people to believe in the company and deliver new ideas for it.”
Another area where Gostoli believes Fiat Professional needs to work on is total cost of ownership story. He revealed to us that the company had lost a recent tender because of a lack of fuel consumption data.
“We’re not always the best on price, but we are one of the best for fuel consumption. Our powertrains are historically the best.”
So how’s he going to get round this problem? Well, by educating Fleet Managers, as he believes that how vans are driven and consumption are at the forefront of Fiat Professional’s UK strategy. So expect more Fiat Professional UK demos and more of the longer loan periods, which Gostoli revealed were gaining traction.
Weight is another key van ownership factor, as according to Gostoli, Fiat Professional is one of the lightest on the market.
“This is not always taken into consideration, especially when most vans are used at 6% capacity.”
Expect Fiat Professional to look closely at the engine range that powers its vans, as although strong in the 95bhp+ area of the market, 65% of the market concentration is now in the 75-95bhp area of the market where they’re not so strong.
“We need to look at the market’s push towards lower power engines,” Gostoli said in summing this point up.
So where are these engines going to go? Well, Gostoli also revealed the latest product plans. The Doblo and Ducato have been recently replaced and are performing well.
Of the forthcoming products, the most important is the all-new Scudo replacement, which is being produced in conjunction with Renault. The current Scudo, which he revealed wasn’t a performer in the UK market, will be replaced with a slightly bigger van, with an as yet unrevealed new name. “It is totally different from the current van and will close the gap between the Ducato and Doblo,” Gostoli added.
Another exciting addition to the Fiat Professional range in 2016 is the One-Tonne pick-up, that’s being developed with Mitsubishi. Gostoli revealed that the new model will have a high level of technology and has been styled to give it an Italian look. He also revealed why he thinks the pick-up is the perfect fit for the company: “We already have a portfolio of customers for it, through the Fiat Professional brand for the Pick-up.”
Further in the future, we can expect more Fiat Professional models to be built on global platforms to save money, as he revealed that he thought a good example was the recently launched Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade cars, that share the same underpinnings.
With the Ducato’s popularity in motor caravan conversion circles, it’s no wonder his plan is to attack niche conversion markets and has put in a dedicated team to deal with this.
Expect more of a push for CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) rather than electrical power for future alternative fuelled Fiat Professional models. Gostoli reckons this fuel will make more sense to buyers after future emission changes.
“Electric power is not sustainable in Europe,” however he went on to say. “We are ready to enter when the technology is feasible.” Gostoli believes this could be as soon as 2020, when the technology is viable.
He ended the meeting with a warning to Fiat Professional dealers: “Dealers are either in or they’re out. We’re completely reshaping our dealer network, and this is across the world and not limited to the UK. We need the dealer network to be a reflection of us and do things the way we want them to do. Not how they want to.”
He went on to say about the dealer network, which in the UK is up to 73 from 52 in 2011: “There are plenty of dealers that want to work with us and there will be a ‘zero tolerance’ approach with dealers.”