At a facility dedication yesterday in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico, Chrysler Group LLC chairman & CEO Sergio Marchionne announced manufacturing  investments in the country by the OEM totaling US$1.25 billion— including US$1.085 billion just for a new plant to produce the Ram ProMaster commercial van.

Underscoring the investment’s importance, the ceremony was attended by the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, and the country’s Minister of Economy

The Ram ProMaster produced in the new Van Assembly Plant, which actually began production in July, will be sold in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.

Chrysler said the ProMaster is “the only vehicle of its kind to be produced in Mexico” and has features that “make it best-in-class, like a modern six-speed automatic transmission (unique for the segment), advanced security systems and vertical space that makes it more efficient to load.”

The ProMaster is based on the European-designed Ducato, which has been in production for over three decades by Chrysler Group LLC’s parent, Turin, Italy-based Fiat S.p.A.

The remaining US $164million is earmarked for adding a new production line to assemble Tigershark engines, which power Jeep and Dodge models, at the Saltillo North Engine Plant.

The OEM noted that both the Ram ProMaster and the Tigershark engines will be exported to different markets, based on Free Trade Agreements that Mexico has signed with several countries.

Although its production was not referenced in the Chrysler new release on the Saltillo investment, back in June WardsAuto.com reported that a second Fiat-based van will be joining the Ram commercial-truck lineup in North America.

That new and as-yet-unnamed van will be based on the Fiat Doblò cargo van and will be launched here within 18 to 24 months, reported WardsAuto.com. Thatnew modelwill replace the outgoing Ram C/V Tradesman van, which is based on the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan, per the WardsAuto.com item.

"I would like to thank President Peñafor the support his administration has given us,” said Marchionne at the event. “He has always shown a great commitment to promoting strategically important projects.

"All of this would not be possible without the extraordinary spirit of collaboration we have found in both the federal and state governments,” he continued. “We feel privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to the future growth of Mexico."

Marchionne told plant employees during the ceremony that their “hard work and dedication to the principles of world-class manufacturing” are “enabling us to compete with the very best plants in the world."