Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fiorino Metano joins the eco-friendly Fiat Professional range

Fiat Professional introduces Fiorino Metano, a new dual fuel (methane-petrol) version of the model voted “International Van of the Year 2009”. The Fiorino Metano is available in two versions (van and Combi) and two outfits (base and SX). It is equipped with a 70 HP Euro5 1.4 Fire power unit and is the only vehicle in its segment with a factory-fitted methane system.

Fiat Professional has been a pioneer of this technology for more than 10 years and now adds the New Fiorino Metano to its range of commercial vehicles factory-fitted with a methane system (OEM). This range is the most extensive on the market with 7 models: Panda Van 1.2, Punto Van 1.2, Grande Punto Van 1.4, Multipla Van 1.6, Doblò Cargo 1.6 and Ducato 3.0. A range as extensive as this means the brand can consolidate its leadership of this market too. As evidence of this, in 2008 Fiat Professional sold approximately 5,100 new natural gas commercial vehicles, amounting to a share of 72.5%. During the first 8 months of 2009, Fiat Professional's methane vehicle sales also recorded an increase of nearly 50% in Italy compared to the same period in 2008, confirming the success of its eco-vehicle oriented strategy.

Methane: the best technological solution

The new Fiorino Metano confirms the brand's commitment to the field of environmental protection and sustainable mobility. Methane power systems are currently the most appropriate technological choice to help limit pollution in urban areas and they are also a very advantageous buying choice. First and foremost, from a strictly ecological point of view, methane is the cleanest fuel currently available. Unlike diesel vehicles, methane-driven vehicles do not discharge particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions are about 90% lower. When compared to petrol, methane engines guarantee a 50% decrease in nitrogen oxide emissions, a reduction of nearly 75% in unburned hydrocarbons and 25% less CO2, helping to reduce the greenhouse effect and allowing vehicles to drive around town and city centres where traffic restrictions apply.

The choice of methane is also a valid alternative to conventional fuels from a financial viewpoint. If we imagine a trip from Milan to Rome on board a Fiat Fiorino: it will cost EUR 53 to travel 600 km if the vehicle is running on petrol (1.4 8v 73 HP), EUR 30 if running on diesel (1.3 multijet 75 HP) and only EUR 22 if the car is methane-driven.

Another important aspect is safety: according to the standard published by EPA (the US environmental protection agency), methane is one of the safest fuels, second only to diesel. This is because it is not a toxic gas: the methane molecule does not tend to form compounds with other substances in the atmosphere. It is also associated with a lower risk of fire: because it is less dense than air, it tends to become volatile in the event of accidental leaks and rise up without building up to dangerous concentrations. For this reason, vehicles with these fuel systems are allowed to park in all garages, even underground garages and can also be carried on ferries.

It is also increasingly easy to refuel with natural gas because the network of service stations is continuously expanding (the number of service stations in Italy currently stands at 692 and another 48 are about to open).

A special section devoted to methane on the Fiat corporate website (www.fiat.com) provides an extremely useful search engine that will display your nearest refuelling station with phone number and days and times of opening if you simply key in your address.

All the strengths of the New Fiorino Metano

The new minimum environmental impact vehicle is ideal for transport around town due to its compact size and a turning circle of just 9.95 m. It is powered by an Euro5 1.4 Fire engine that returns low CO2 emissions (just 119 g/km).

The Fiorino Metano offers a dual methane and petrol fuel system with two independent circuits. The vehicle normally runs on methane. Only start-up always takes place using petrol: the vehicle switches to the natural gas system automatically. In this way, the petrol fuel system remains efficient and is only required when the gas in the cylinders is about to run out. It is, however, always possible to change from methane to petrol and vice versa at will by pressing a button on the dashboard.

The power unit on this particular version was developed and produced by FPT – Fiat Powertrain Technologies and is a 1.4 Fire – teamed with a five-speed manual gearbox - equipped with a phased sequential Multipoint system. This engineering feature allows the engine to obtain all the benefits of a petrol engine from a methane engine. When it runs on natural gas, the Fiorino Metano guarantees outstanding handling - due partly to maximum power values of 70 HP (51 kW) at 6,000 rpm and a torque of 10.6 kgm (104 Nm) at 3,000 rpm - plus good performance: its top speed is 149 km/h while acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes place in 17.5 seconds. The performance of this lively engine with superlative performance is aided by the adoption of an electronic “drive by wire” throttle valve control system.

It should be noted that a vehicle with a factory-fitted (OEM) methane system offers numerous advantages over an aftermarket conversion. For example, the use of specific materials and components and the application of dedicated technologies allows customers to benefit from the Fiat contractual warranty with the first service at 30,000 km. Because changes to the chassis and body are made directly in the factory, the vehicle also boasts the highest standards of comfort and safety.

Another strength of the new model is its extraordinary range: when driving in methane mode, the Fiorino Metano is able to cover 300 km due to the total capacity of its two cylinders (77 litres, equal to 13.2 kg of gas at a pressure of 200 bar) and it costs in Italy just EUR 11 to refuel with methane. What is more, because the vehicle is also equipped with a 45 litre petrol tank, its overall range touches 1000 km over a combined cycle.

It should also be remembered that, due to the specific arrangement of the cylinders, which are built into the floor pan (one at the level of the central tunnel and the other in the rear floor pan area), the Fiorino Metano benefits from an optimum, regularly-shaped load compartment that is perfectly flat along its entire length (2.1 m3 in volume, rising to 2.4 m3 when the front passenger seat is folded flat). A cargo box in the form of a liftable trim panel also provides access to storage compartments of various sizes beneath the load platform.

As far as its load capacity is concerned, van versions of the Fiorino Metano offer a payload (including the driver) of 500 kg while the Combi can carry 5 people plus 140 kg.

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Ana Milena said...
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