27 Oct 2016

Happy 35th birthday, Ducato!

Happy 35th birthday, Ducato!

Created in 1981, Ducato is the ideal motorhome base vehicle for all open-air tourism enthusiasts. The years pass and the versions come and go, but there is something that will never change: holidays would not be the same without the Ducato motorhome base. The current generation is the sixth of the Fiat Professional multi-award-winning best-seller. In 2016, Ducato is the base that has won nearly all the "Best Camper” awards in the Camper Van and Motorhome categories and was named "Best Motorhome Base Vehicle” by the readers of the German magazine "Promobil” in 2016 for the ninth time confirming the success of the leading model in the sector which is the benchmark for the most important European motorhome manufacturers.

Ducato is ideal for all open-air tourism enthusiasts and the only vehicle specifically created to become a motorhome base. Its long list of body variants, its square and regular-shaped loading compartment, its efficient chassis and its car-like handling have made it the most popular chassis choice for European motorhome manufacturers.

Looking back over the history of Ducato from a technical point of view also means retracing the evolution of motorhome holidaying. Since it was created 35 years ago, Ducato has been instrumental in fostering the direct contact with nature and the luxury of choosing when and where to stop, in addition to the sheer pleasure of freedom, for holiday makers: these are the ingredients that have built the fortunes of the recreational vehicle lifestyle. The sector is expected to beat all registration records in 2016. Fiat Professional will partake of this success and Ducato motorhome base registrations will be the best ever.

Thirty-five years ago, Ducato revolutionised the large-volume van market with its front wheel drive, powerful engines and spacious loading compartment. Over the years, the Ducato has progressively developed into the benchmark for the category. Over 10,000 variants have been made and the model is sold in more than eighty countries worldwide. Its numerous body configurations and efficient chassis have made it the go-to choice for special purpose and motorhome outfitters.

Production began in 1981 on the lines of the SEVEL (Società Europea Veicoli Leggeri) plant in Val di Sangro, Italy, and still continues there today. It is the largest factory for medium-large vans in Europe, and one year ago reached the prestigious milestone of five million vehicles produced. Since the first series, Ducato has implemented innovative solutions, such as a front transverse engine with traction and fuel tank combined in a single module with the cab. These features made a variety of unprecedented models feasible at last.

The body variants included two roof heights and Van, Combi, Bus and Truck variants. The two wheelbases (2923 and 3653 millimetres) meant that the van could total a load volume of 9.8 cubic metres with two payload classes (1000 and 1300 kilograms) and a permissible gross weight up to 2800 kilograms. In 1984, inclined shock absorbers were used to create a completely flat loading compartment, and in 1985 the maximum capacity was upped to a remarkable 3500 kilograms with the Maxi version. The Talento variant with shorter 2317 millimetres wheelbase was launched in 1988. Finally, Ducato with Steyr-Puch all-wheel drive was introduced in 1989: the range was now equipped to satisfy every need.

Ten years after its launch, Ducato achieved its first milestone with the second series: the 500,000th vehicle rolled off the production line on October 1, 1991. With its cutting-edge style came new features for motorhomes, like the gear stick arranged on the dashboard to facilitate passing from the cab to the living pod. Power of the 2.5-litre turbo diesel was upped to 70 kW (95 HP) and a third wheelbase (3200 millimetres) was added to the range. On the third generation, design was more curved and car-like taking the Cx value down to 0.35.

Further improvements aimed at comfort characterised the noughties. For example, height-adjustable seats and three-spoke steering wheel were introduced in 2002. Ducato X250 introduced in 2006 was nothing short of a revolution for motorhomes. Developed from the beginning of the project, three years before it hit the market, jointly with the major European motorhome manufacturers, it implements over 50 specific features aimed at optimising functionality and use for open-air holiday enthusiasts. The engine line-up of Ducato was also developed. The 2-litre turbo diesel (62 kW/84 HP) was joined by two all new engines: a 2.3-litre (81 kW/130 HP) and a 3-litre (98 kW /157 HP).

The current generation of Ducato – the sixth – boasts the highest permissible maximum weight in the segment (up to 4400 kilograms on motorhome version or 4250 kilograms on the van version), in addition to the highest loads on the front axle and rear axle for vehicles with simple rear axles (up to 2100 kilograms and up to 2500 kilograms, respectively) and the highest maximum capacity. The van version of Ducato could carry a maximum payload of 2100 kilograms. In addition, pneumatic suspension on the rear axle is available for the first time.

All the new Euro 6 engines in the Ducato line-up are top-in-class in terms of fuel efficiency and deliver high torque at low rpms, which is an essential feature for motorhome drivers. The engines implement state-of-the-art MultiJet2 technology to deliver from 115 to 180 HP: the line-up is capable of satisfying the needs of the most diverse customers.

For the new MultiJet2 Euro 6 engines of the motorhome bases, Fiat Professional has capitalised on its leading position to develop the solution most suited to all needs of motorhome customers by implementing one-of-kind technology. LPEGR (or Low Pressure Exhaust Gas Recirculation) intercepts the exhaust gases after the DPF and returns them to the combustion chamber via a low pressure circuit. It has two advantages: it abates NOx emissions by decreasing the combustion temperature and saves fuel by ensuring better efficiency of the turbine. LPEGR does not need an AdBlue® tank or top-ups.

All Ducato versions are equipped with six-speed manual transmission. Alternatively, the 130 MultiJet2, 150 MultiJet2 and 180 MultiJet2 engines can be paired with Comfort Matic robotised transmission provided with a specific mode for motorhomes and automatic mode for even more relaxed driving.

Ducato proves to be at the cutting edge also in terms of high-tech contents with its next-generation safety and driving assist devices, in addition to the new Infotainment system. For instance, all versions are supplied, on request, with electronic stability control (ESC) enhanced with rollover mitigation, to optimise comfort and protect the vehicle from sharp movements, in combination with load adaptive control (LAC), Hill Holder, anti-slip regulation (ASR) and electronic emergency break assist (EBA). Driving assist equipment includes Traction + (with Hill Descent Control), lane departure warning and Road Sign Recognition (TSR).

The model offers a wide range of radios with Bluetooth technology and MP3 player. In addition, a 5" touchscreen UconnectTM system is available, as well as reversing camera and built-in satellite navigation system. Last but not least, the whole line-up is available with a digital audio broadcasting (DAB) decoder, as well as traditional analogue radio.

The Ducato base is the leader in the recreational vehicle sector and the chassis of choice for the major European motorhome manufacturers who are the leaders in their respective countries: Germany, France, the UK, Sweden and Italy, to name the most important. over the past ten years, more than 500,000 families have safely and confidently chosen to travel and enjoy their holidays in a Fiat Ducato base motorhome. With many years of experience under its belt, Fiat Professional offers a unique range of services dedicated to Fiat Ducato base motorhome users for organising their trips, exchanging experiences and receiving assistance promptly wherever needed.

With Ducato and the range of exclusive Fiat Professional services motorhome holidaymakers are worry-free.

For them, Ducato spells more than just freedom and has been confidently travelling with them for 35 years!

Turin, 23 October 2016


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