Ram to add stores for commercial line
LOS ANGELES -- Ram will appoint more dealerships to handle a growing lineup of commercial pickups, chassis cabs and vans, brand chief Fred Diaz says.
About one quarter of Chrysler Group's 2,400 U.S. dealerships have the BusinessLink designation. They can sell and service Ram's commercial vehicles and promise to give service priority to commercial customers.
Dealerships must "have next-available-bay service, because if something's wrong, you have to be able to get [commercial customers] in and get them out," Diaz said last month at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
He did not say how many more dealerships would receive the BusinessLink designation or discuss the timetable for appointing them.
Ram is preparing a re-engineered lineup of heavy-duty pickups and chassis cabs in early 2013 as well as a rebadged Fiat Ducato full-sized van that it will call the Ram ProMaster later in the year.
The van will allow Ram to compete for commercial customers who need pickups and vans. Chrysler Group hasn't had a full-sized commercial van since the Sprinter went to Mercedes in January 2010 after Chrysler's trip through Bankruptcy Court in 2009.
When the Ram ProMaster van is introduced in the third quarter of 2013, it will be the only full-sized commercial van in its segment with front-wheel drive. This will give it a lower load floor than competitors but could reduce traction if the van's load is placed at the extreme rear of the vehicle.
Diaz said fwd is an advantage, especially in snowy climates. "I think it's something that we're going to tout, particularly in those northern states and snow states where front-wheel drive is far more acceptable than it is in other parts of the world."
At least one other commercial van is in the works. In September, Chrysler trademarked the name ProMaster City for potential use on a smaller commercial van from Fiat, the Doblo.
Diaz said dealers praised the brand's new commercial vehicles when they saw them at a dealer meeting in September in Las Vegas.
Said Diaz: "We'll probably have to turn some dealers away because we want to be very careful and very selective and make sure they're in the right places."
You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at firstname.lastname@example.org.