By Patrick Rall
The Chrysler Group announced at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show that they will be launching a new Ram Commercial division and along with the bad ass Ram Heavy Duty lineup – Chrysler will be launching a new large van based on a European model sporting the name Ram ProMaster.
The 2014 Ram ProMaster will be closely based on the Fiat Ducato but Chrysler has promised that this modern day Ram Van will wear the distinct styling cues of the Ram brand along with an engine lineup that will be specific to the North American market. On the outside, this means that we can expect to see a crosshair grille design similar to that found on the Ram Truck lineup but it will be interesting to see just how much of the European styling of the Fiat Ducato is replaced as Chrysler develops the new ProMaster. Like the Ram C/V that is based on the Dodge Grand Caravan, the ProMaster will likely have option packages that include the buyer’s choice of solid metal sides (creating a panel van look) or normal glass windows around the sides and rear.
“The Ram ProMaster further strengthens our commercial lineup, offering a full line of work trucks and vans,” said Fred Diaz, President and CEO – Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico, Chrysler Group LLC. “As the Ram Truck Brand continues to gain share and grow sales in the retail truck market, we will be just as aggressive in our goal to be a commercial truck market leader.” “We feel that from a product-feature and launch timing standpoint, the all-new Ram ProMaster van is going to be a home run with commercial customers,” added Diaz. “Our relationship with Fiat, one of the world’s foremost commercial truck makers, has given us access to great products and technology that will resonate with our U.S. and Canadian Ram Truck customers.”
The 2014 Ram ProMaster is slated to arrive in the 3 quarter of 2013 with the main competition being the Ford Transit and the Chevrolet Express. As a part of the new Ram brand commercial division, the ProMaster will fill the large hole created by the demise of the long-popular Ram Van but with the many variants of the Ducato used in Europe by the Fiat brand including flatbed and different cabin variations – strong sales of the ProMaster (and the rest of the Ram Commercial lineup) could lead Chrysler and Fiat to expand the number of Ducato-based models available in the US.
Finally, while the Ram ProMaster is a large van obviously designed for commercial purposes, Ford Motor Company has seen a great deal of success in the general consumer market with their smaller Ford Transit Connect. The old school Ram Van was designed with commercial uses in mind first but with a couple added rows of seats – those big vans made great family trucksters. Should consumer America be quick to snatch up the ProMaster in commercial form, the Chrysler Group could elaborate on that model with packages that include more seating and less cargo space.