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1. Delivery of our electric van was delayed for 6 months
We ordered our Fiat E-Ducato at a local dealer in the Netherlands in December 2020, without being able to have taken it for a test drive first. So we already knew Fiat had suffered delays with the production of their new electric van. The Italian car manufacturer first announced Fiat E-Ducato in 2019 and it was supposed to hit the markets in the summer of 2020, when Fiat shared the pricing of the different models. When the coronavirus pandemic hit however, Fiat was forced to close several plants in Italy for months. Combined with the pandemic’s impact on global supply chains, we knew we were in for a bit of a wait.
Our dealer expected the first demo models of the Fiat E-Ducato to arrive around April 2021, and since our van was one of the first ordered, it would be produced and shipped alongside them. But April came and went, and then we learned about the worldwide shortage of computer chips. 2021 ended up becoming a nightmare year for car manufacturers worldwide and it would take almost six more months for our van to finally arrive at our dealership on September 1st, 2021, together with the Fiat E-Ducato demo models. Ours turned out to be one of the first Fiat E-Ducato’s on the road in Northern Europe.
To read more about our choice of van, why we decided to order it without doing a test drive, and the full specs, see: The Ultimate EV for a Camper Conversion.
2. The roof of our brand-new Fiat E-Ducato started leaking after a week
When we finally received our Fiat E-Ducato, we started on the conversion to a campervan right away. Unfortunately, after just a few days we noticed some droplets forming at the back of the interior of the van. It was too much water to just be condensation, which meant: a leak. At first, we thought the newly installed fan in the ceiling might be the cause, but the water was dripping all the way at the back of the van — too far removed from the fan. So we drove the van to our dealership where they did a test and thankfully the cause was found right away: faulty sealant on the roof.
At the dealer’s workshop, the joint at the back of the roof was cleaned and new sealant was applied, which fixed the issue. We took it home and put it to the test once more with a hose, to make sure everything was dry. We were relieved that it was such an easy fix, but also a bit surprised to find a fault like this in a brand-new van. Someone on TikTok told us that apparently this is a known issue with Fiat E-Ducatos, so if you’re looking to buy one and convert it to campervan, be sure to test the roof thoroughly before getting started on your insulation! Thankfully we hadn’t started insulating yet, or the issue would’ve been much, much worse.
3. No 22kW charging option for our van
Our Fiat E-Ducato has a 79kWh battery pack that comes with a standard Type 2 AC charger of 11 kW which we can use to charge the van at just about any AC charging station (with a charging card). We also chose an extra DC fast-charging option of up to 50kW, which allows us to use fast-charging DC stations. Fiat also offers a third upgrade: a 22kW charger option, to be able to charge at AC charging stations a lot faster (up to 100km in an hour, according to initial tests).
We’d have loved to order this upgrade for our van as well, as it would allow us to charge much faster at charging stations all over Europe on our road trip, but unfortunately, it wasn’t possible. We don’t know the reason, but as far as we know as of the summer of 2022, it’s still impossible to order a 22kW upgrade for a Fiat E-Ducato. For more information about the charging options offered, see: fiatprofessional.com.
4. Home charging cable not delivered
The final charging option Fiat offers is a home charging cable with a normal domestic plug. This would allow us to plug in our campervan at any house or farm, which would help immensely when visiting remote areas in Europe. As you can imagine with our plans to drive across the continent, this option is essential to us.
Unfortunately, no home charging cable was delivered with our van, even though we did order it with Fiat as an upgrade. Fiat gave no explanation as to why the home charging cable was missing, and we never received one. From what we understood from our dealership, no other Fiat E-Ducato has received a home charging cable so far either. Our local dealership ended comping us to buy a universal charging cable instead.
5. Universal home charger problem
The ICCB-approved type 2 universal charger we bought for our van is supposed to work in any EV, but every time we tried it initally, it would blow the circuit breaker. We tried two different universal chargers in two different houses with the same result and when our dealership tried it with their demo model of the Fiat E-Ducato, the same thing happened. We were at our wit’s end when an AC charging station mechanic at our dealership gave us an incredibly easy tip: to plug in the cable in the wall outlet upside down, that is, with the cord pointing upwards instead of downwards. And incredibly, this worked!
We’ve since learned that it depends on the positive and negative charge, so at some outlets we have to plug in our universal charger upside down, while others work the normal way. So if you ever experience a problem with a home charger in a Fiat E-Ducato, be sure to try this hack!
We can also highly recommend ordering a universal charger that allows you to set the maximum charging current, so you can control the charge you want to get from an outlet. Most sockets will be able to handle 2.3kW (230V, 10A) but might heat up too much if you try to get more. We also went for the charger with the longest cable we could find, 15 meters (50 feet), allowing us to easily charge the van without having to use an extension cord, which can also heat up too much.
6. Our van broke down for almost 4 months
We experienced our biggest setback about six months after we’d received our brand-new Fiat E-Ducato. On the 25th of February 2022, after charging the van at an Allego fast-charger near Groningen, it wouldn’t move anymore. The van could still start and Jurrien could hear the batteries connecting as well, but it wouldn’t drive an inch. After turning it on and off several times with no change, Jurrien eventually had to call Fiat Professional’s roadside assistance and a tow truck came and towed our van to our dealer’s workshop. Luckily, we still have the manufacturer’s warranty, so this didn’t cost us anything.
Many tests were conducted, Fiat’s engineers in Italy were involved and after several weeks, it seemed they found the problem: they thought the fault lay with the coolant components of the batteries. New parts were ordered and — after a delay of two more weeks — the new cooling element and compression pump were installed in the final week of April. But unfortunately, this didn’t fix the issue. Fiat then finally asked SolarEdge E-Mobility (formerly SMRE), the Italian company that designed all the electric components of the Fiat E-Ducato, for help. They ordered new tests of the batteries and a huge difference was found in the internal resistance of each of the five battery modules. SolarEdge made the call to replace them all.
Delivery of the batteries was, unfortunately, delayed and this turned out to be our lowest point — you can read the full story here. But then, finally, three months and three weeks after our van broke down, the new batteries were installed and that fixed the issue. Our van could drive again!
Would we do it again?
None of the initial setbacks we experienced were insurmountable, but our van breaking down for almost four months was a horrible experience. We were left completely at the mercy of Fiat with what felt like no control over the situation. We are so thankful that the issue was eventually fixed and we do still love our van very much, but if we’d ever buy a new van again, we wouldn’t buy the first new model of a van from a manufacturer. We simply experienced too many teething problems with our Fiat E-Ducato. Next time, we’d wait until a model was on the market a bit longer, carefully check the reviews, and then make our decision.
That’s also why we wanted to write this article. Because we’re one of the first owners in the world of a Fiat E-Ducato, we didn’t find any information about the issues we experienced online. We hope to help the next person looking for information. If you own a Fiat E-Ducato yourself, we’d love to hear about your experiences — you can get in touch with us here.