We have visited the Sevel Plant in Atessa in Italy to discover the largest light commercial vehicle plant in Europe where the Fiat Ducato basis for motorhome have been produced since 1981.
Words Antonio Mazzucchelli
Sevel Plant has been founded as a joint venture by Fiat and PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) to produce vehicles for both carmakers. Sevel acronym stands for Societa’ Europea Veicoli Leggeri (Italian) or Société Européenne de Véhicules Légers (French). Located in Atessa (Italy), the plant began producing vans in 1981. Six generations of Ducato have rolled off the lines onto the roads of Europe for the satisfaction of hundreds of thousands of users, merit of its many body variants, the square and regular shape of its loading compartment, its efficient chassis and its car-like driving. A little over six hundred people were employed in the Sevel Plant in 1981 and seventy vehicles were made a day. Today, 1270 vehicles in an amazing array of different configurations roll off the lines every day. The plant is one of the most complex in the world in terms of level of specialisation, organisation and implemented work methods. The particularity of the plant is in its being able to make vehicles “tailor made” for each customer needs. The combination of bodies, engines, transmissions and liveries means that over 13,000 different versions are offered. The selection is a comprehensive and highly appreciated one. Over 3 million Ducato have been made since 1981 for the widest array of uses, each of which has its own specific priorities. The plant employs roughly 6,400 people, which reach 12,500 counting the suppliers operating in the district. The average age is about 45 and women make up over 21 per cent of the entire workforce. Motorhome bases amounted to approximately 55 per cent of the entire Ducato production in 2017. That’s because three out of four motorhomes sold in Europe are Ducato-based and the last ten year more than 500.000 families enjoy their holidays on a Ducato based motorhome. The Sevel Plant has earned a Silver medal in the World Class Manufacturing programme which involves over 160 FCA plants in addition to suppliers and multinationals. The Silver medal certifies that high efficiency, organisation, involvement and quality standards are implemented. The plant hosts the Academy, a centre of excellence where new resources are trained and Team Leader are continuously updated. The Academy is the place where people meet to improve their Knowledge and Leadership through simulation and innovation. Here it is also possible to learn about digital technologies connecting our business in different areas as quality, ergonomy, complexity and workpace.
Ducato, a pioneer in the RV business
“Thirty-seven years ago, Ducato revolutionised the light commercial vehicle segment and the revolution is still underway” – says Roberto Fumarola, Head of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Motorhome Converters department – “The current, sixth generation has the highest payload in the sector. The exceptionally balanced chassis and specific suspensions for camper vans ensure safety and dynamic behaviour in all road conditions. A large number of active and passive safety devices provide peace of mind, even with the family on board, without ever skimping on comfort. It is no coincidence the Ducato was chosen also this year, for the eleventh time, by the readers of the prestigious German magazine Promobil as “Best Motorhome Base”, thus reasserting our leadership in the motorhome sector”. From generation to generation, each Ducato has introduced innovations aimed at improving recreational vehicles in terms transformability for converters and in terms of usability for camper van users. Not by chance, the Ducato motorhome base has constantly evolved by teaming up with the most important European converters, offering over time special, lower and lighter chassis, wider track, cut and consolidated roof cab, squared shape designed to the exploited in a wider range of ways and, in general, an excellent proportion of volumes and a very favourable ratio between mechanical dimensions and usable space. Fiat Professional can boast a pioneering approach also in the services area. It was the first to launch a toll-free number specifically for motorhomes back in 2007. Today, ten years later, customers who purchase a Ducato-based motorhome step into a world of services as the Fiat Professional Call Centre operating in 51 countries across Europe with a toll-free number, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To reiterate its true nature of leader in the recreational vehicle, Fiat Professional will reveal its new identity logo “Fiat Professional for Recreational Vehicles” to the customers during the next shows in Düsseldorf.