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.