It’s not just the light duty arena seeing a substantive increase in battery-electric offerings as the crowded commercial van market just got another competitor: the Fiat E-Ducato.
Stellantis, Fiat’s parent company, told the world it would move quickly to become competitive in the electric vehicle market once the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Group PSA was complete. The deal was done at the end of 2020, and they’re making good on that promise.
The new E-Ducato steps into a very crowded field facing competition like the Mercedes e-Sprinter, Rivan’s new all-electric delivery van, GM’s BrightDrop offering and the king of the segment, Ford and its E-Transit model.
But it’s not just the big names looking to make inroads in the segment, Fiat’s competing with fringe players like Silicon Valley’s Canoo, Ohio’s Workhorse Group and the even smaller Arrival, which uses “microfactories,” ditching the traditional assembly line approach vehicle manufacturing.
The newest player
Ever-intensifying competition aside, the new E-Ducato is available right here — if here is Europe — and right now. It’s assembled at Fiat’s Atessa, Italy plant, although the electric powertrain will be install at the Mirafiori facility in Turin. No word on if or when a ProMaster version comes to the U.S., although the company did say other variants would follow.
Fiat says it’s comparable to a diesel in its performance levels. The motor puts out 122 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque, which should be plenty to get around town. Additionally, it can add another 62 miles of range in less than 30 minutes, Stellantis officials noted.
The E-Ducato offers two different battery options — 47 kWh and 79 kWh, best-in-class for installed electrical capacity. It offers four types of charging modes, although only three are available now. With a 47-kWh battery, it travels up to 145 miles. With a 79-kWh battery, it enjoys a range of about 230 miles.
“For the E-Ducato, we started from the idea of creating not only a ‘green’ vehicle, but also a complete mobility solution, characterized by versatility, reliability, efficiency and sustainability (at both an environmental and an economic level),” said Eric Laforge, head of the Fiat Professional brand, who’s leading charge into large electric vans.
“In short, a working tool to build up your business while respecting the precepts of ecology, a model ready for every mission, uncompromisingly aiming to be the benchmark in the market and to be equipped with the same capabilities as vehicles with internal combustion engines. Its 400 configurations mean it can meet the needs of all professional operators, from freight fleets and construction companies to artisans and municipal service providers.”
Following a familiar path
Like many of the other competitors in the segment, Fiat’s got a real-world partner: DHL. The global delivery giant signed on to help build a better van five years ago, but the relationship intensified when the E-Ducato hit the drawing board.
Unsurprisingly, it will purchase E-Ducatos as part its commitment to electrify most of its last-mile delivery vehicles by 2030, and 60% of its overall fleet electrified. “This means I’m looking for something like 14,000 vehicles we’re gonna buy,” said Alberto Nobis, CEO of DHL Express Europe during the press conference. “We had an opportunity to build this vehicle to our specifications.”
It’s unclear if Nobis was committing to buying 14,000 E-Ducatos or simply that many electrified vehicles. However, the partnership between DHL and Stellantis shows the importance of catering to the market.
Similarly Rivan worked with Amazon, which is also a major investor in the company, to create the electric vans it’s currently testing in several cities across the U.S.
Arrival and Workhorse are both working with UPS, GM is partnering with FedEx on its BrightDrop vehicles. Ford and Daimler haven’t announced formal partnerships yet, but they are the two largest players in the segment so getting input likely isn’t a problem.
The new E-Ducato starts at just under $50,500, which puts in the same league as the aforementioned E-Transit which starts at about $45,000.