Chrysler Group is returning to compete in the commercial van segment following an absence of three years. Marking its return is the 2014 Ram ProMaster, which will be unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show. Chrysler based the Ram ProMaster on the Fiat Ducato van, which has been present in the European market for over three decades.
The carmaker will produce the Ram ProMaster at its Saltillo site in Mexico and will market the van in North and South America starting this fall. The ProMaster is distinct from its rival van from carmaker Ford, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz as it is front-wheel-drive. This setup allows the van to gain 13 different configurations, including two different roof heights, three different wheelbases and four different body lengths.
Since the ProMaster has no rear driveshaft or differential, it boasts of a lower load floor, greater cargo capacity and lower weight as well as better fuel economy than its rivals. The ProMaster features large sliding side doors and rear doors that could open up to 260 degrees, making the van able to accept materials that can be loaded with a forklift.
The 2014 Ram ProMaster is powered by Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine or by an optional 3.0-liter inline four-cylinder turbodiesel, allowing it to carry a payload of up to 5,145 pounds, depending on the configuration.
The Ram ProMaster features a version of Uconnect infotainment system with an optional 5-inch screen, hands-free replies to text messages, rear backup camera and park assist, and available Internet connectivity via the Sprint cellular network.
Sales of full-sized vans in the United States jumped 10 percent in 2012 to 250,989, dominated by Ford and General Motors with the entry of Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor Co. Chrysler has stopped selling the Dodge-badged version of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in 2010. This made Ram unattractive to buyers seeking commercial vehicles from a single source, according to Bob Hegbloom, the director of the Ram brand.