Chrysler Group will expand its current plant in Saltillo, Mexico, to accommodate the production of the Fiat Ducato commercial van under the Ram brand.
The Ram version of the Italian van will be sold in North America from 2013. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said that the expansion of the Saltillo plant will make it “the center for production of light-commercial vehicles in North America for us.” Although the size of the investment hasn’t yet been made public, company sources told Automotive News it was expected to be about $500 million.
Chrysler already has a truck assembly plant, a stamping plant and two engine plants in Saltillo, located about 180 miles southwest of Laredo, Texas. The front-wheel-drive Fiat Ducato commercial van shares its platform with the Peugeot Boxer in Europe. “It’s designed perfectly to try and deal with the market segment here in the United States, so we think it will grow,” Marchionne said.
Ram currently offers a modified version of the Dodge Grand Caravan, called the Ram C/V, as a commercial cargo van, but it lacks a full-sized commercial van. In the DaimlerChrysler days, Ram offered the Sprinter.
Ram sold only 691 units of the C/V in 2011, while Ford sold 91,305 units of the Econoline van and 31,914 units of the Transit Connect.