Chrysler expands Mexico plant to build the Ram commercial van for North America

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 16, 2012

Chrysler Group aims to add a big expansion to its present facilities in Saltillo, Mexico, to build a Fiat Ducato commercial van with a Ram badge for North America. At the Detroit auto show, Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Chrysler Group, said that the Saltillo plant is being expanded for it to be the center for production of light-commercial vehicles in North America. According to insiders, the investment is about $500 million but Chrysler has yet to confirm this. Chrysler currently runs a truck assembly plant, a stamping plant and two engine plants in Saltillo, which is 180 miles away from Laredo, Texas.

Marchionne said that the front-wheel-drive full-sized commercial van uses the same platform as the Peugeot Boxer in Europe. He said that they have high hopes for it since it has a “perfect” design to offer in this segment in the U.S., according to Freep. A modified version of the Dodge Grand Caravan, dubbed the Ram C/V, is offered by the Ram brand as a commercial cargo van.

However, it hasn’t offered a full-sized commercial van since the Sprinter was lost in the breakup with Daimler AG, its former owner. In 2011, Ram’s C/V achieved sales of 691 units. On the other hand, Ford’s Econoline van had 91,305 units of its units sold.

This doesn’t include the Club Wagon version and the Transit Connect, which sold 31,914 units. Marchionne said that the Ducato is set to arrive in North America in 2013. The European versions have a 135.8-inch wheelbase. Meanwhile, the rear-wheel-drive Ford Econoline commercial van has a 138-inch wheelbase.

Ram has long been known to have a truck architecture the displays a full size and body-on-frame. This is because the brand’s trucks were designed, engineered, and then produced, with the goal of hitting the right emotional chords of enthusiasts and possible customers alike who follow the “Guts and Glory” thinking. This is why the 2013 Ram 1500, in terms of function and form, show boldness, power, valor, and virtue, unlike any of those seen for its segment.

In addition, the 2013 Ram 1500 does this at a whole new level. It is expected as well that the 2013 Ram 1500, aside from having innovations, interactive technologies, and function, which are better than its rivals, this model is projected to be the most fuel efficient as well. The capabilities of this new offering are likely to be at the same, or quite possibly even better than all other models belonging in the same segment.

This truck has also undergone the most quality validation. While the 2013 Ram 1500 has handling and ride similar to premium sedans, towing and payload capabilities continue to be the best for its class. In fact, this latest offering from Ram displays confidence given the excellent ride qualities, brake-pedal fell, and responsive steering.

The reason for these changes is that while in the past the full-size light-duty pickup truck segment was all about efficiency and brute capability, it now has evolved to a level where engineering and execution shows a mix of efficiency, configuration, desirable size, technology, quality, refinement, and capability. Looking at the exterior and interior of 2013 Ram 1500, one can immediately see the unique brand-oriented design that offers the notion of bold opulence.

This is likely why it has a number of factory-installed options for the exterior with various systems on the interior. Thus all of these make it seem as if the 2013 Ram 1500 is more expensive compared to other models but the fact remains that it shows great value.

2013 Ram 1500, like the 2012 version, will be offered in three cab configurations which are the two-door Regular Cab, four-door Crew Cab, and four-door extended Quad Cab.

Three box sizes are offered as well which is the 5’7” version, the 6’4” one, or the 8’ box. There will be a total of 11 models or packages to be offered which include Big Horn, Express, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, Lone Star, R/T, SLT, Sport, ST, Tradesman, and Outdoorsman.

For those not familiar, vehicles from other brands in the same segment as the 2013 Ram 1500, include the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan and the Toyota Tundra.

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