TURIN -- With the Fullback midsize pickup, Fiat joins Nissan and Daimler in targeting a growing market for utility vehicles.
The Fullback will go on sale in the middle of next year in Fiat’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. The pickup is based on the Mitsubishi L200 and will be built at Mitsubishi’s factory in Thailand alongside the Japanese’s automaker’s version, which is already on sale.
The Fullback will be sold by Fiat’s commercial vehicle unit, Fiat Professional, and its launch is a key part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s plan to make FCA’s EMEA business consistently profitable.
Fiat says midsize pickups account for 23 percent of 675,000 industrywide sales in its EMEA region. The Middle East and Africa are the largest markets, accounting for 58 percent and 53 percent of this volume respectively.
When it hits the market, the Fullback will join an expanding array of competitors. Mercedes-Benz plans to launch a pickup based on the Nissan NP300 Navara by the end of the decade. Renault will begin sales next year of the Alaskan based on the NP300 Navara.
Rebadging models from other automakers to reduce costs and boost profit margins is common in the commercial vehicle market because buyers are less concerned about unique styling and technology than in the passenger car market.
Depending on the region, the Fullback will be available as single cab, double cab and extended cab versions with payload capacity of up to 1,100 kg and rear or four-wheel-drive. European versions will offer only a 2.4-liter diesel engine. Buyers in the Middle East and Africa will have the choice of a 2.4-liter gasoline unit or a 2.5-liter diesel.
Pricing and other details will be announced closer to the launch date, Fiat said.
Fiat unveiled the Fullback at the Dubai auto show this week.
Fiat’s current lineup includes the Strada, a front-wheel-drive-only unibody small pickup built in Brazil and sold in Europe and Latin America. FCA plans to add a pickup called the Toro that will be sold in Latin America starting early 2016. Media reports say the Toro is based on the Small Wide platform that also underpins the Jeep Renegade. It will be built in FCA's plant in Pernambuco, Brazil.