By on August 31, 2011

First of all, let’s not fool ourselves: this is quite the hypothetical question. For one thing, Fiat is unlikely to federalize the Doblo cargo van that this “Work Up” is based upon until a subsequent generation comes out. In the meantime, the only Fiat Professional vehicle the US market will be getting anytime soon (thanks to CKD production at Warren Truck, according to Allpar) is the Ducato van, which competes fairly directly with Daimler’s Sprinter.  But, hypothetically, could this Doblo “Work Up” find a market in the US? Let’s look at what it offers…

Its most powerful engine in the U.K. is the 1.6 liter, stop-start-equipped, Euro-5 compliant diesel with 105 HP and 213 ft-lbs … and that starts at £17,065 ($27,759 , in direct-conversion)… but there’s also a 2.0 oil-burner with 135 hp and 236 ft-lbs in the Fiat Professional quiver. Fiat Professional claims a 1,000 kg payload (about 2,200 lbs) and up to 1,450 kg (3,200 lbs) “load on rear axle,” so it’s no slouch. But between the vagaries of currency and efficiency (the 1.6 and 2.0 get 45.2 MPG and 42 MPG respectively on the European combined cycle, the latter being equivalent to the European Cruze 2.0 diesel MT), and the question of production siting, it’s difficult to put together a specific scenario for this coming to the US. But if it did, it would make even the most far-away CAFE standards look pretty mild (even though Chrysler’s once-questionable hybrid pickup drivetrain already does). On the other hand, it would also make the Ram Tradesman look like a screaming deal even though it offers “only” 1,860 lbs in maximum payload (it’s a much better towing machine). So don’t hold your breath… and if you need an efficient commercial vehicle in the meantime, well, there’s always the brand-new Caravan Cargo Van!

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28 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Could This Become The Littlest Ram?...”


  • avatar
    carguy

    Not likely. Given the low price of full size trucks, even mid-size makes no financial sense any more.

    • 0 avatar
      JKC

      Agreed… as long as fuel prices remain relatively low. But if/when fuel prices head north of $5-6 per gallon, that might change.

      • 0 avatar
        celebrity208

        Would it? A quick check on Edmunds.com for a 2004 4.3 1500 Silverado vs a 2004 S-10 4.3 shows that the S-10’s EPA numbers are: 14/18 while the larger heavier Sliverado is at 14/19. Whaaaaa? Ok even ignoring the fact that the bigger truck gets better highway mileage, there’s very little difference between the two using 2004 tech. It’s the shape of these things. As hybrid tech moves into trucks you’ll see less of a diff due to weight and it comes down to aerodynamics.

        What say ya’ll?

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Why would any body risk buying a full size pick up to save money on the purchase price and live with the fear of the unstable gas price hitting the roof. I would spend quite a bit more on a small diesel truck that can do the work I need it to, just so I don’t need to worry about gas prices. Also, I think there should be choices out there.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      Do small diesels really save money? Around here, diesel is 30 or 40 cents a gallon higher than regular, and seems like a diesel engine costs more than a gasoline engine up front.

      • 0 avatar
        econobiker

        It is supposed to be in the fuel economy and longevity that diesels make it against gasoline engines.

        I wish that the diesel PT Cruiser had been available in the US.

  • avatar

    It’s practical and fills a void in the market but I don’t think this will go down well in the American market IMHO.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    This will come to America when the Mazda BT-50, VW Amarok and Ford Falcon Ute does.

  • avatar

    It’s too expensive, although I sort of like it (minus the cargo bed). I think the Fiat Strada from Brazil would work better in the United States. Keep the base price Soul-esque, say $12-15K. Or as I said in a previous thread somewhere around $9,000-$10,000 if possible (which is I believe what the absolute cheapest Nissan Versa costs).

  • avatar

    People would rather by a used Ram 1500, Silverado 1500 or Ford F150 XL and just deal with the fuel costs.

  • avatar
    jconli1

    I dig it… and I think with that drivetrain and some intelligent marketing it could work well here. But “intelligent marketing” is sort of an oxymoron.

    Almost reminds me of Nissan’s Gobi concept of the late 80s (which I loved back then).

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    In a word? No. Small diesel acceptance is growing only very slowly in the United States, and even then that’s primarily in passenger cars. Besides, the small truck market is completely moribund anyway. If Chrysler was going to re-enter the small pickup market (and it will be under the Ram brand, that’s virtually guaranteed), they would develop a new Dakota, because that carries far more cachet, and the demand for towing capacity is far greater than what this thing can offer.

  • avatar
    Prado

    Only if Fiat/Chrysler has capacity in Mexico to build it. The ‘Chicken Tax’ pretty much keeps all foreign trucks and commercial utility type vehicles out of our country.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Ya know what? There is certain segment (mine) that this would fit well. Five acre farm. Heavy enough payload to do everything I want. Problem though is the price. I think what I need is the 79 datsun pickup I had when I started this. It had everything except miles left in the tank. I know I’m not going to buy a full size truck and with that kind of price I’m just going to let my current steed (low mileage 90 s10) continue to live.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    I think people forget (again) that you can’t just convert prices and complain that $ 27k is too expensive. this probably would be sold at $ 20K in the US. A VW golf with 100 hp engine cost as much or even more than this truck in Europe.

    Unlike many US “trucks” this one seems to be designed not for the poser, but for the actual business person NEEDING a truck. The power rating is not so bad considering you typically don’t accelerate hard (again, not for posers). Especially for some company driving around all day in the city mileage is important. More important than getting speeding tickets. Keep in mind, most cars in Europe have not much more than 100 hp, and a 6-cylinder is considered super luxurious for non company cars. The Mercedes Sprinter for example starts out with less than 100 hp. Again, all about fuel economy.

    I like the little step behind the cabin making it easy to climb on the bed.

    I wonder is that body-on-frame or unibody?

    I don’t understand the 1000 kg payload (assume people + cargo) and 1400 kg load on rear axle. unless you include the vehicle weight for the load on rear axle, this shouldn’t be higher. what i want to know, how much cargo can I put on the bed (rear axle). And this shouldn’t be more than total payload, right?

    • 0 avatar
      outback_ute

      I’m only guessing, but I’d think the vehicle is unibody front end and cabin, with chassis rails under the bed – similar to the cab-chassis version of a VW Transporter or a current Falcon ute. It is ‘just’ a matter of engineering to get the strength into the junction. There are pictures of the cab chassis on the website without the tray or underbody panels fitted.

      The payload does not sit on the rear wheels only – to achieve the full 1000kg you must have the centre of gravity of the load forward of the rear axle so the front axle takes its share. I suppose they might have to reduce the specified payload in the US to cover themselves against the sort of people who would put 1000kg right at the back of the tray?

      Looking at the specs this thing is just under 5m/195.5″ long, 122″ WB, 73.7″ wide – it is not that small a pickup. That would be the subcompact-based Strada at 175″/107″/64.7″ with 1550 lb payload capacity.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    No!!!!

    Pickup trucks are fashion statements. They are NOT utilitarian vehicles. The beds of pickups are nearly permanently empty. After 100K miles, Joe’s pickup truck only has some tiny little scratches in the bed, caused by the move of Aunt Agatha. Pickup trucks are not vehicles; they are a sign of macho manliness. A small and cheap pickup truck is an anathema in the USA; it is like wearing a Tshirt that says “Mine is smaller than yours!”. Bringing this thing to the US market is like observing Israeli purchasing patterns, and deciding that selling pork might be a great idea. No, this thing would absolutely never sell.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    It looks comparable to my Ranger, except that the flat bed (with drop sides?) fixes one of the major usability problems with the Ranger — arranging things so that the wheel-wells don’t interfere with the cargo.

    The cargo capacity this vehicle is also about twice that of my Ranger. Also, as a former TDI owner, a 100hp diesel engine would be perfect for this kind of truck.

    Alas, I only have enough room to park two cars, and kid-hauling is a priority now that I’m a dad — so I’ll probably have to replace the Ranger with a wagon or a minivan. But, if I had space and money, this would be my choice for a hardware-store hauler, since an F-150 is too big for my purposes, and I refuse to be that guy who drives an F-150 to an office job.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’d rather have a Multiair Strada.

  • avatar

    The specific type of bed is a non-starter in America for some reason. They are available for trucks (known as “ute bed”), but for some reason near everyone still opts for a body-shaped “bed”. I know someone who uses a flat bed with faux-wood plastic plank sides, since it was cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      outback_ute

      If you look at the cab-chassis version of the vehicle, they could easily produce a traditional type of bed with a load floor height close to the van version of 21.5″, and over 4 feet between wheel arches. That is what the Ford Falcon does in Australia, there is a traditional bed or a cab chassis available to maximise versatility eg flat tray, service body, etc. Fiat/Ram could sell both versions, also an aluminum tray fits with the idea of a work vehicle as you don’t have to worry about paint scratches.

      I saw a few Fiat Stradas in Europe a couple of years ago being used for municipal maintenance – they easily hold one person’s worth of gear.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      Actually every truck in Europe (all the VW ones etc.) don’t have the body-bed because you can ding and scratch the hell out of this one and it doesn’t matter. Again, not for posers.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    I love it! I need to carry batteries, bicycles, and tools. I have no use for large, hard to load/unload, full size, noisy, and clumsy pick ups.

  • avatar
    niky

    Cute ute. A lot like my Nissan Sentra/Sunny-based two-door pick-up. That one was a steal… but even with price parity, my car-based ute, with similar engine options, cost nearly as much as a compact ladder-frame rear-wheel drive four-door pick-up.

    The fuel saving options are there, yes, but if it comes with a diesel, it will likely cost even more than the bigger Ford Ranger, which, despite the bed handicap, has a higher load capacity and a more rugged design.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I could see myself in one of these, especially as I have no need to pull a boat, but need a truckload of mulch once or twice a year. It’s kind of hard to know how much volume that particular box could hold, but with all of the sides folding down, access wouldn’t be an issue.

    Like everything, it depends upon how it’s priced. With a diesel motor, will it be in the low $20K range? Or would a gasoline powered version be less expensive? I guess these are the questions I’d like answered before I’d commit to one of these.

  • avatar
    Rental Man

    Not for Men on Ego Trips or those looking for fashion statements. Cowboys replacing their Horse need not apply either. The market for the Doblo in cargo van, Passenger and this new pint size flatbed has to be there focusing on fleet users. Their buyers can clearly see an advantage in fuel savings and having the same vehicle in different forms yet basically the structure to perform multiple functions. For personal use the passenger van version would be great as commuter vehicle with space, FWD and outstanding MPG. The flatbed for people who can’t see commuting in an F-150 yet love some utility flexability.
    A stretch example would be to look at Coupe, Sedan, Wagon and convertible Audi A4/5. Just pick your flavor. They are all there. Build in Mexico – Maybe next generation and price at the affordable end of the market a clear winner for function.
    HOWEVER….. This form is already here called the Ford Connect and I see lot’s on them in the urban areas. Rural areas? Not much. Ford did not bother bringing a high MPG Diesel yet. What do they knew that we don’t about market potential? Maybe a Ford sales person can share thoughts…

  • avatar
    BTEFan

    I think this is a great idea. It would definitely be a niche player, but I think there would be a demand for it in the urban settings. I could see City State parks departments using this type of runaround vehicle, hobby farmers, etc. And if sold as a cab and chassis, its a competitor to the Ford Transit Connect. Probably easy to import from Fiat Do Brasil or Fiat De Mexico. Would be a nice market niche that Ram could have to themselves for a bit.


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