Chrysler's Ram brand ponders a new van with extra seats

Fiat Group and its Turkish joint venture Tofas Turk Otomobil Fabrikasi will supply the Ram brand with a U.S. version of the Doblo (pictured). Photo credit: FIAT
Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.

LOS ANGELES -- Chrysler Group's Ram brand is debating whether to offer its upcoming compact van in two flavors -- cargo and passenger wagon.

Beginning in 2013, Ram will market a front-wheel drive panel van that is assembled by a Fiat joint venture in Turkey. The vehicle will compete here with the Ford Transit Connect.

Specifically, Fiat Group Automobiles and its Turkish joint venture, Tofas Turk Otomobil Fabrikasi, are creating a Ram-badged van. Fiat's Doblo van is being engineered to meet U.S. regulations.

Right now, one flavor is planned for the United States -- a windowless commercial model that could be used by customers such as plumbers, bakers and candle stick makers.

But what about a people mover, say for moms, dads and the kiddies?

"We are studying that as a possibility," says Fred Diaz, who's president of the Ram brand. "It could have passenger car applications."

Adds Diaz: "If somebody likes everything we deliver with that vehicle, and they want seats in it, why not?"