For its Ram division, since the loss of the Sprinter, Chrysler has been looking at a large van to fill the void. With no indigenous offerings at home, the logical step would be to tap Fiat’s resources in Europe and bring over variants of commercial vans already on sale across the pond.
Rumors have been circulating for some time, that versions of the small Fiat Doblo (a Ford Transit Connect competitor), the Fiat Ducato and larger IVECO Daily (shown), are all being considered.
If all three vans do make it over here, theoretically it would give Ram division a one-stop shop when it comes to catering to small and medium sized business, for in addition to these, the division already offers a commercial variant of its Dodge Caravan minivan.
In terms of cost effectiveness and durability, the Ducato and Daily probably make the most sense. The former, despite being front-drive, has a fairly low cost of ownership and a flat cargo floor ensures maximum space utilization. Maximum Gross Vehicle Weight Rating on the Ducato is 8,818 lbs.
The rear-drive Daily by contrast, boasts a GVWR that’s almost double the Ducato’s and is offered with both single and dual rear-wheel configurations along with high roof van bodies, plus chassis cabs, making it adaptable to a wide variety of different roles.
However, although Ram’s Marketing Manager, Bob Hegbloom, in conversation with Ward’s Auto World has said the division plans to introduce two new vans to North America, so far, he’s stopped short of saying which ones.
If two, or even all three of these vans make it over here, it will be interesting to see how they fare. The large commercial van segment is currently dominated by Ford and General Motors, the Sprinter, of which Mercedes now handles sales and service, along with it’s Freightliner commercial truck division, is still very much a marginal product in the segment, it’s high price and relative complexity, seen as drawbacks by many fleets.
The only other current competitor in the segment is Nissan’s recently launched NV (see our review here), which adopts much the same approach as the current Ford E-Series and Chevy Express/GMC Savanna.
Whether the Fiat sourced vans can make much of an impact against the current best sellers remain to be seen, a lot of it will no doubt hinge on pricing strategy, servicing and overall running costs, not just fuel consumption. We’ll likely find out soon enough.
[Source: Ward’s Auto]