NEW YORK.  Creating a Ram Commercial Division with a full portfolio of light- and medium-duty work trucks was “incredibly important” to showing “serious buyers that we’re dead serious about the truck business,” according to Fred M. Diaz, president & CEO of the Ram Truck Brand.

That commitment not only includes a greatly expanded product line, but also dedicated commercial staff for product planning, design, engineering, sales and marketing, field support, parts and service, and a dedicated dealer network, Diaz told Fleet Owner during the New York International Automobile Show.

“You can’t dabble in commercial trucks,” Diaz said. “We need to demonstrate a level of commitment and accountability so [commercial truck users] know that if they have an issue, we’ll be there to support them.”

While Ram Commercial’s product lineup is anchored by the Ram light- and heavy-duty pickups and chassis cab models, it also includes the Chrysler Group’s return to the full-size van market with the ProMaster later this year.  The company exited the full-size van market when it stopped selling the Daimler-built Sprinter van in 2009 after Daimler sold the Chrysler business.  It had ceased building its own domestic B-Van in 2003.

The new van draws on the resources of Chrysler’s new owner, Fiat.  Based on the third generation Fiat Ducato, the ProMaster  has been modified for the North American market with the addition of a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 gasoline engine as an option to the Fiat 4-cyl. 3-liter diesel, both mated to a 6-speed automated mechanical transmission-- a first for a North American van.  Built at Chrysler’s heavy-duty truck plant in Saltillo, Mexico, other North American modifications for the ProMaster include a heavier suspension and beefier HVAC, according to Diaz.

The Ducato’s front-wheel-drive platform will allow Ram Commercial to offer 16 ProMaster models, including high-roof vans and cutaway and chassis cab versions, Diaz pointed out.

Although full-sized models account for 80% of the U.S. commercial van market, the new Ram division is also looking at larger and smaller trucks to address the smaller niches and expand its commercial truck offerings. 

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has already publically said that he would like to see the Class 1 Fiat Doblo van move to North America, presumably to compete with the popular Ford Transit Connect.  And Diaz told Fleet Owner that his group is studying the business case for adding the Class 3/4 Iveco Daily to the Ram portfolio.

Due in dealers this summer, the new Ram 3-liter V6 diesel will also be a strong draw for commercial truck buyers looking for a light-duty pickup with good fuel economy, Diaz said, adding that it will be an excellent complement for its Cummins  6.7-liter diesel option in its heavy-duty pickups.