The newly-created Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino presented two omnibuses and a revolutionary firemen's trailer at the Milan exhibition. This paved the way for the introduction of the first real Fiat truck, the 24HP.
Production of light commercial vehicles began with the 24 Horse Power, which took its name from its engine power, measured in steam horsepower at the time. Small in size - about the same size as present-day vehicles - the 24HP offered the same uses and the same carrying capacity as a true truck, with a flatbed made of seasoned wood that could carry up to 4,000 kg of goods.
Given the revolutionary nature of the 24HP, it became necessary to build three experimental prototypes. Various test were carried out and the 24HP breezed through them all. Even the Armed Forces showed an interest in the new vehicle.
The 24HP was produced on a small scale, but its successor, the 18-24HP "self-propelled carriage", enjoyed great success and was produced in large numbers.
1911–1915: Production of the first 'true commercial vehicles' began. The impetus for production came first and foremost from the necessities of World War I. During this period, exports accounted for a very significant proportion of the Turin-based Company's turnover. Armies became Fiat's best customers, and Fiat was soon keeping the War Ministries of France, Russia, Greece, and Great Britain supplied with light commercial vehicles
1911: The 1F was introduced (F stood for 'furgone', i.e. van), the first vehicle with a proper van body. With a displacement of 1846 cc and a carrying capacity of 500 kg, this agile vehicle, based on the frame of the TIPO 1 car, was ideal for short range services. For this reason, the British Post Office bought several.
The same year also witnessed the appearance of the more robust 2F. Derived from the TIPO 2 of 1910, it had a displacement of 2813 cc, a power rating of approximately 20HP and a carrying capacity of 1,000 kg. Its truck version, with a canvas covered body, was offered for use as a military truck, and was widely used to transport men and materials. In this configuration it was also supplied to the British Royal Navy.
After the economic crisis of 1921, various elements began to indicate recovery. Traffic law was reformed (road tax was abolished and province-based licence plates) and in March 1923, work started on the main road between Milan and the Lakes, the first road with a special lane for commercial vehicles.
In light of the ongoing changes, Fiat decided to invest more heavily in the production of commercial vehicles, widening its range and differentiating its offering in terms of payload, size, and engine capacity. During this period, the definition of 'light commercial vehicle' began to come into its own.
Various light trucks including the 502F, the 503F, the 505F, the 507F, and the 509F were produced in response to a growing demand for vehicles to satisfy specific work and transport requirements (including special purposes vehicles such as ambulances, fire brigade vehicles, post office vehicles, etc.).
Fiat worked hard to accelerate the growth of road haulage, supporting the planning of the route between Turin and Milan, the main road joining Italy's two most important centres of production. SAVA (Società Anonima Vendita Autoveicoli) was also set up to make it possible to buy vehicles on an instalment basis, and to promote sales.
Fiat worked together with other Turin brands specialising in vehicle production to optimise costs and to pave the way for a promising future.
The Balilla Van appeared on the base of the small 508 truck. Light, manoeuvrable and easy to drive, "the pygmy" – as the new vehicle was nicknamed – represented commercial version of the famous Balilla car. It boasted comfort, low fuel consumption, a top speed of 75 km/h and a carrying capacity of between 320 and 380 kg. It was a great success: in 5 years, 113,000 Balillas were produced - including many truck versions! Another vehicle that dates back to this period in history was the first Fiat truck with a diesel engine, specifically designed for freight transport. This was the 621, with a load capacity of 2,250 kg, a closed cab with two doors, wind-down windows, a swivel-opening windscreen, a load bed with fold-down sides and tailgate, and the option of fitting metal arches to support a waterproof canvas roof.
A 4-cylinder 55HP diesel engine was added to the range, as an alternative to the 45HP petrol engine. And that's not all. The successful 621 series offered not only diesel and petrol engines, but was even available in an electric drive version with the battery pack under the passenger compartment.
During the first half of the 1940s, Fiat production dropped drastically, when Italy's involvement in the war took a turn for the worse, largely as a result of the bombing that devastated the city of Turin, the Fiat plants and numerous small ammunition factories.
Fiat understood that economic development concerned not only large industries, but small, independent enterprises too. Shopkeepers and tradesmen needed transport that was suitable for their requirements and allowed them to transport small quantities of freight, samples or equipment. This vision became reality in 1947.
Encouraged by the excellent sales achieved by the vehicle 1100, Fiat decided to produce a range of derivative commercial vehicles.
The Fiat 1100 ALR was one of the first commercial models produced immediately after the war. Along with its outstanding and unique qualities, this meant that the 1100 ALR soon became one of the symbols of the Italian revival. Equipped with a reliable engine, extremely sturdy transmission and a resilient and versatile chassis, which could be adapted to a wide range of uses (farming, industry, passenger and goods transport), the Fiat 1100 ALR is considered the forerunner of later commercial models.
Following the success of the multipla 600, Fiat also renewed its range of commercial vehicles, introducing the Fiat 238, a large van based on the mechanics of the Primula (Autobianchi), with a 1.2 44HP engine for giving a top speed of 105 km/h.
Produced between 1967 and 1983, the Fiat 238 was available in different versions from its launch: van, truck, chassis cab, passenger transport and ambulance. This philosophy strongly influenced and shaped the later Fiat 242 and Fiat Ducato.
In the mid '70s, Fiat re-organised to specialise in various sectors. The production of industrial vehicles was separated from that of cars. IVECO was formed in 1975 (an important date in the history of road haulage), and the Fiat Light Commercial Vehicles brand was born, bringing onto the market the models 242, 850T, 900T and the Fiorino 127 (made in Brazil and still in production today).
Produced until 1987, the Fiat 242 dominated the market throughout the '70s. Robust and reliable, with a low loading threshold and a flat load bed, it was also sold in special versions, such as public and mixed transport, as well as the innovative and best-selling leisure version, with its motorhome conversion.
Both in Italy and in Europe, these years saw a growing demand for small vans for town deliveries and intercity links.
Fiat's response was the 127 Fiorino, the first small van produced in Italy. The Fiorino was based on the 127, Europe's best-selling car, and maintained its mechanical qualities and creature comforts while offering a load capacity of 360 kg plus driver. A series of plus points set it apart from its competitors: a spoiler, cabin partition (removable in sections), and lockable back doors that opened to 90°.
Among the new products produced in 1978, we cannot fail to mention the Panorama version of the 238E range, a 9-seater designed to respond to the new market for group transport. Built to carry 9 people to work or on holiday, and offering major savings on fuel consumption, it quickly became the ideal vehicle for various sectors, including hotels, car rental companies, organisations, and sports teams.
This year marked the introduction of a revolutionary van, the Ducato x2/12. Developed from a 1978 design, the new model aimed to offer a light commercial vehicle that would be successful throughout Europe. The Ducato x2/12 was followed by the Ducato x2/30. Not only was the objective achieved, but the results exceeded all expectations. Proof of this is the fact that the model is still being produced more than 25 years later. 1981 also saw the development of the Fiorino pick-up, meeting a growing need to further diversify commercial vehicles, from vans to pick-ups.
In the '90s, the Ducato was followed by other successful models like the: Scudo, Doblò, and the van versions derived from various car models.
The Scudo was introduced to offer a new commercial vehicle to professionals in search of a compact van, with a good load capacity and a car-like driving style.
The Doblò, produced in Turkey, was launched on the Italian market in 2000 and on other international markets in 2001. It immediately proved remarkably successful.
Also in 2000, the concept of the pick-up truck - first embodied by the Fiorino in 1981- evolved, with the introduction of the Strada, the pick-up version of the Palio family.
Fiat Professional continued to expand. The Group completely renewed its range of products, and also introduced new models.
The launch of the New Ducato. Distinctive, state-of-the-art styling, excellent comfort and performance, enhanced telematic and safety equipment, and low maintenance costs won the New Ducato countless accolades from the international press as the best vehicle for leisure conversions.
In the same year, the Doblò Cargo won the prestigious "International Van of the Year 2006" award due to its original design, new longer wheelbase versions, sparkling MultiJet diesel and Natural Power engines, and increased load capacity and volume.
The New Scudo was launched, combining the characteristics of a car (performance levels, manoeuvrability, and comfort), with those more typical of commercial vehicles (space, easy loading, and reliability). The New Scudo added a complete range of people-carriers to the consolidated strengths of the previous model.
The year of the New Fiorino, created to meet the latest needs of urban goods transport, and especially suitable for professionals who spend a lot of time behind the wheel, or making deliveries (e.g. tradesmen, maintenance workers, service companies and pony express drivers). Unique, innovative, original and dynamic in style, spacious, compact, easy to load, agile in traffic, and affordable to maintain, the New Fiorino won the prestigious "International Van of the Year 2009" award as a safe and manoeuvrable vehicle, able to 'go where the others cannot'.
The New Doblò Cargo was the shining star. Up to 4.6 m3 in volume, up to 1 ton in payload and up to 3.4 m of load compartment; NEDC fuel consumption of 4.8 l/100 km or 56.5 MPG, range of 1,250 km and CO2 emissions of just 126 g/km with the 90 HP 1.3 MultiJet II Euro 5 engine and Start&Stop. It is the only model in its segment with Bi-link suspension. This record-breaking van won the Van of the Year 2011 award.
The 2011 Fiorino also arrived after updates to its engines, dashboard, interior and body colour schemes, and technical content. The New Doblò Cargo - now available in a Natural Power version too - was named Europe's Van of the Year 2011.
Once again the year of the Ducato, with the appearance of the latest model. The Ducato has now been a best seller for thirty years, spanning 5 generations and countless success stories. Over 2.2 million vehicles have been sold worldwide since 1981.
The new Ducato continues to stand out for its original design, and features a completely new range of engines, including 4 new Euro 5, turbodiesel direct injection, MultiJet engines from 110 to 177HP, coupled with 6 speed gearbox. The latest engines offer ground-breaking fuel consumption and CO2 emissions (from 6.9 l/100km or 40.9 MPG and 180 g/km in combination with Start&Stop).
Doblò Cargo, the record breaking vehicle that continues to amaze, is now available in the Work-Up version, a reliable, tough workmate with an unrivalled size/payload ratio. Its strength is its plywood load platform: 2.3 m long, 1.82 m wide and 4 m2 of surface area, capable of carrying up to 3 Euro pallets or 33 crates of fruit: all the room you need for your load.
The New Fiat Strada was introduced as the heir, to the model that leads the South American light commercial market. With no fewer than 127,800 units sold worldwide, in 2011 the Strada proved the second most popular Fiat Professional model after the Fiat Ducato.
New Doblò XL takes the Doblò another step further ahead of the competitors. Its high roof in combination with the long wheelbase provides a volume that has no reference in 1B segment, 5 m3, in combination with a payload of 1,000 kg.
Its high roof is very well integrated into the vehicle shape, providing an aerodynamic & elegant solution. The rear doors provide full access to the load compartment so the 5.0 m³ will be fully available for any goods.