New Fiat Strada

​Compact, but Giant by its very Nature

From Design to Engineering, from the 'father' of the pickup to the first buyer: the backstage and the secrets of success of the new generation of Fiat Strada.

September 2, 2020 - Being a leader in sales for 20 years in a market of commercial vehicles as competitive as Brazil’s is already an extremely difficult accomplishment. Imagine then, creating a new product capable of surpassing the huge successful feat of Fiat Strada. I would say it would be impossible if Fiat hadn't already conquered that challenge. If you've already seen the New Strada, you didn't even need the spoiler alert, right? Even more so knowing that in just over a month of its launch, the pickup has already surpassed the mark of 25,000 orders, a number that rivals can only achieve after many months of full vehicle registration.

Following in the successful footsteps of its predecessor, the second generation of The Strada brings a number of innovations to the segment of compact utilities, such as four-door double-cab, plus cab with the largest cargo volume in its category (1,354 liters), LED headlights, four airbags, advanced traction control system for off-road conditions and others, not to mention the ravishing design. But these attributes are not solely responsible for the phenomenon of the New Fiat Strada.

"Since its first generation, Strada has been a product designed for what the Brazilian consumer expected: a robust vehicle, with great performance and safety, aiming at the mixed use between leisure and work with a large bucket and load capacity. These strong pillars have contributed in making it a hugely successful pickup truck and remain the foundation in the New Strada. Today's success has been honed year by year", explains Márcio Tonani, FCA's Director of Product Development for Latin America.

Considered one of the creators of Fiat Strada, Tonani is keen to highlight the continuous dedication to improving every detail of the truck as another decisive factor that makes it a sales champion. "I have experienced this since 1997, when I was in charge of the Strada bodywork area. We worked to refine the calibration of its suspension, we conducted several meetings between teams from various regions of the country to analyze the smallest details”, he declares.

This meticulous work is present in the New Strada’s DNA, not to mention our passion. "Something that caught my attention in the development of the New Strada was how much people at FCA like this pickup truck. It's an object of value for them. The affection, the dedication with which the team made the vehicle, the integration of the production chain from the beginning of the project, all this was very remarkable. Strada reinforced the moment of innovation in human relations, brought with it a whole new model of insertion of people, multi-plurality of races and genders", says Tonani.

New Strada’s Development Manager, engineer Eduardo Fernandes reveals that the pickup was the first FCA product in Latin America to use the so-called "Supplier Early Engagement". "Prior to the appointment of suppliers and at the very beginning of the project development, they supported us with their expertise in their components, and this enabled the team of engineers to design each component using the best of what we have in the market, regarding materials and technical solutions, ensuring a high performance in its final result."

Fernandes says that he is also very clear as to what the biggest challenge was in the process of developing the second generation of Strada. "With each design decision, we knew that we could not make mistakes, because the first generation of Strada is an absolute leader in the market of pickup trucks and one of the vehicles with the highest rate of customer satisfaction. Fortunately, we got it right, and what impressed me the most was that we improved even more what the Strada already has best in its category, such as suspension. We were able to improve the robustness of the suspension while giving the customer a balanced vehicle when driving on roads," he says.

For the engineer Vitor Hugo Souza, development assistant at Nova Fiat Strada, among many technologies put in place in the pickup — such as traction and stability controls, hill start assist, electric steering and the modern and economical 1.3 FireFly engine — the biggest evolution was even the unprecedented four-door cab. "Even with all the evolution in its design and electronic content, the fact that we offer the customer the usability and comfort of a four-door is fantastic. We are the only model in the segment to achieve this feat, a detail that keeps Strada at the forefront, revolutionizing once again the category", he points out.

A pickup truck developed entirely in Brazil, by Brazilians! "Even the new multimedia center was made here. The Strada was also the first vehicle to make use of the advanced technologies of the Virtual Center in Brazil", adds Souza, referring to the area that integrates the Center for Research & Development Giovanni Agnelli, considered the most complete and modern automotive sector in Latin America. "More than 90% of the development of the New Fiat Strada occurred using virtual reality, with simulations of durability, noise, vibration, thermal comfort, aerodynamics and safety, among other points," adds Tonani.

The Director of Product Development also highlights the strong relationship of the Nova Fiat Strada with the Safety Center, a laboratory for testing vehicle collision inaugurated in 2019 at the Fiat Automotive Plant (Betim, MG, Brazil). "The Nova Strada was the first vehicle approved at the Safety Center. In terms of safety, the new generation was also designed for pedestrian protection in the event of a possible accident. Several parts of the vehicle were designed to absorb the impact in the event someone is run over" he explains.

Its design, for sure, we could not fail to mention it. After all, the New Fiat Strada is really beautiful and brings with it the new identity of Fiat, as explained by Daniel Gerzson, Chief Exterior Designer at FCA for Latin America. "The new logo on the front grille breaks with the tradition of the last few years and sends the message as to the direction that Fiat is taking. There we have the brand name in its purest of forms possible, just as Fiat was at the beginning of its history. We managed to combine the new era of the brand with an iconic car", he says.

According to Gerzson, the creation of the design of the New Fiat Strada is the result of what consumers were looking for, along with the DNA of Fiat and the truck itself. "We learned a lot as the customer's wishes evolved along with the use of this car. It all starts with a research with the public. The New Strada is a model with very solid DNA, a car made to be extremely robust. Very confident, very strong and contemporary. And of course, following the language adopted in the current products of the Fiat brand."

But the challenge of creating an even more beautiful pickup truck was great. "It's not easy to get good proportions in a small truck. The biggest challenge was to make a well balanced four-door pickup truck (cab size, bucket...) and when it becomes to a plus cabin, how to create that proportion? Because the elements are still there. But fortunately, we succeeded and one detail that I really liked was the application of a larger volume in the wheelhouse. For me, this consolidates the DNA of robustness and identity proper to it, different from the segment that continues to be derived from another vehicle", explains Gerzson.

As for the immediate success in sales, Herlander Zola, director of Brand Fiat and Commercial Operations Brazil, he says he is quite happy with the numbers achieved with the New Strada, but reiterates that this did not happen by chance. "We worked to maintain the Strada even ahead of the competition and of course, continue to lead the segment. What we designed and we are offering to the consumer is actually a car that is two or three steps ahead of the competition. A modern, technological and safe product. The rising sales show that we've made the right choices because we listened to consumers and gave them what they really wanted from a pickup truck," he says.

Our Number 1 Client of the Number 1 Pickup

The city of Patos, Paraíba, was put on the map for selling the first New Fiat Strada in Brazil — a double cab volcano version, top of the line. But it's not Adriano Medeiros, the equestrian consultant’s first Fiat pickup truck. "This is my sixth Fiat Strada. After buying my first rural property, I felt the need to have a vehicle that would serve me both in urban and rural activity. Then my history with the Fiat Strada began," he says. "I was very pleased to hear that I was the first buyer. I think it was a reward, because I'm a loyal user and passionate about the truck", he points out.

In less than a month with the New Fiat Strada, Medeiros assures that he already has a very clear opinion about the product. "I really liked it. In addition to the much more beautiful look, it brought more comfort and safety due to the extra airbags and stability control. Fuel consumption has also improved, as well as its approach angle. And I know that well because I travel a lot through rough terrain", he reinforces.

"I use the truck for all my activities. I'm an advisor to the quarter horse business and breeder, so I always face all kinds of terrain to visit my clients' stud farms and for breeding business on my ranch. I have already made two trips with the New Strada and I can guarantee that the vehicle has improved a lot on the road with regard to comfort and stability, not to mention the pleasure when driving it. In the city, the electric steering has greatly increased comfort", highlights Medeiros.

Maria Rodrigues with her Jeep RenegadeMaria Rodrigues looks forward to the arrival of her New Fiat Strada Freedom cabin plus, which will be the new garage companion of her Jeep Renegade.

The publicist Maria Elizabeth Rodrigues, resident of São Roque (SP), is another happy buyer of the New Strada. Eagerly awaiting the delivery of her Freedom Cabin Plus version and owner of a Jeep Renegade, she explains why she made it a point to be one of the first owners of the launch. "Fiat Strada has a size that caters to the many types of uses: it’s economical with a reputation for being very reliable and robust. Those who need it for work and those want to use it for personal reasons are well catered with this car. We use it for both leisure and work. Plants and dogs on the leisure side and motorcycles on my husband's professional side", she says.

She says she purchased the New Strada because of its qualities such as agility and economy, as well as the "famous robustness and price". "Of course, beauty counted a lot too. On the first day of sales we were already at the dealership. We were told that we were the first buyers of the entire Region of Sorocaba", she reveals.

For Medeiros, another reason that explains the immediate success of the New Strada is the legacy of its predecessor when it comes to maintenance. "It’s a cheap vehicle to maintain and one that never leaves the owner in the lurch. Other than that, the Strada's biggest differential for me is its resale value. Here in my region this pickup is worth gold. It never took me more than two days to sell it for a good price."

Words: Leandro Alvares

Pictures: Marketing / Personal Archives

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