Strong demand in the first two months of sales of the Doblò van has convinced Fiat to double Brazilian production to 2,600 units per month, writes Rogerio Louro Alves.

The Doblò, in passenger and cargo versions, is made in Fiat#;s Betim plant, Minas Gerais state, and was launched at the end of November 2001.

The Brazilian Doblò passenger version uniquely has two extra seats fittted each side of the luggage compartment.

The seven-seat models have two rear doors for easy access to the rear seats while five-seat models, like the version on sale in Europe, have only one large rear door.

Doblò sales in Brazil have been supported by a large Fiat spend on merchandising in TV ‘reality shows#; and soap operas.

Fiat won#;t say how much it spends on advertising but industry sources estimate that it spent about $R10 million ($US 4.2 million) on two months of ‘reality show#; merchandising.

Following the doubling of production Fiat expects to start exports of 600 Brazilian-made Doblòs to South and Central American countries each month from March.