By Larry Edsall
You might want to pay attention to the Commercial Vehicle Show from April 24 to 26 in Birmingham, England, where a couple of new pickup truck-style vehicles will be showcased.
Or maybe you shouldn’t pay attention to the show, because all it might do is to get your hopes up that someone from somewhere might bring another truly compact pickup truck to the United States sometime.
We know that most of you believe anything short of full size isn’t a real pickup truck. But think back not that long ago to the popularity of the Nissan Hardbody, the Toyota Hilux-based pickup, the Ford Ranger and other compacts of that ilk — vehicles that were both entry-level work trucks and inexpensive enough to provide an affordable platform for customization and personalization.
Fiat will use England’s Commercial Vehicle Show to showcase its new Doblo Cargo van, a European competitor for vehicles such as the Ford Transit van.
The Doblo Cargo is available in various configurations, including the Work Up, whose pickup-style “load box” is 7.5 feet long, just short of 6 feet wide and can carry 2,200 pounds.
And that’s not all. There’s a subfloor storage area for tools, too.
Oh, and one more thing. The sides of the cargo box are hinged to turn the little truck into a flatbed.
The Work Up’s side steps make access to the bed easier, and a panel behind the cab not only provides a protective screen over the rear window, but it also serves as the base for the front portion of a ladder or cargo rack.
“All these features make the Doblo Work Up ideal for agriculture, construction, maintenance or city parks services sectors,” Fiat said in a statement. “It is ideal for the transport of frames and glass and can take, for example, three Euro pallets or 33 boxes of fruit.”
Work Up buyers can select MultiJet diesel engines that range from a 90-horsepower 1.3-liter to a 135-hp 2.0-liter that pumps out 235 pounds-feet of torque. Yet it is rated at 50.4 mpg thanks in part to its standard stop/start technology. (When the vehicle is stopped at a traffic light, the engine shuts off to save fuel.)
And if the Fiat 500 is being built in Mexico and is imported into the United States, why not the Doblo Cargo and Work Up? While not making any promises, a representative for Chrysler said the company is looking at the Doblo Cargo for possible U.S. distribution.
The Great Wall Steed
The Great Wall Steed, a crew cab-style pickup from China, will make its British debut at the show. Great Wall says it wants to be the first Chinese automaker selling vehicles in volume in the U.K., where it is launching 40 dealerships.
Great Wall says the Steed will have a 2.0-liter diesel engine, six-speed transmission and “selectable on the move” four-wheel drive as well as “the lowest insurance ratings of any vehicle in the pick-up segment.” It will have a base price of 13,998 British pounds, or about $22,200 (at current exchange rates).
Great Wall has been building pickup trucks for nearly 35 years. It already sells pickups in Italy, where it offers both single cab and crew-cab configurations.