By on March 7, 2011

With Sprinter back under the Mercedes sign, Chrysler Group is looking to Europe and Fiat’s Doblò (above) and larger Ducato to expand back into the commercial van segment, starting next year. The European commercial vans are a far cry from the last Ram-branded body-on-frame vans, as the Doblò is actually based on a 108.5 inch wheelbase version of Fiat’s SCCS platform, a development of GM’s Gamma subcompact platform. As a result, the front-drive Doblò comes with engines ranging from 1.3 to 2.0 liters, and are largely powered by diesel engines. The Doblò is available in everything from a two-door chassis cab pickup, a three-, four- or five-door panel van, or a five-door passenger configuration.Because the new Ram commercial vehicles will be imported starting next year, expect only the van variants to avoid the “chicken tax.

The larger, rear-drive Ducato offers a dizzying number of body variants, with wheelbases ranging from 118.1 inches to 149.6 inches, and offers only diesel engines in displacements from 2.2 to 3.0 liters with 100-155 HP. Until we get more details, it’s impossible to know which versions of these vehicles will come to the US, and whether the diesel and (for possibly even natural gas) versions will come as well. But the real question remains the same as it was a year ago:

how will these Euro-derived efficiency-oriented urban haulers jive with the Ram brand’s overbearingly bro-magnon branding?

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26 Comments on “Return Of The Ram Vans: Fiat Ducato, Doblò Coming To The US Next Year...”


  • avatar
    carve

    I spent a month driving around New Zealand in an old Ducato camper van.  What a fantastic vehicle- I wanted to take it home with me.  Very easy to drive for being so big (particularly drivning it from the wrong side).  The torquey diesel turbo-4 had no problem keeping up with traffic, even on hills (although you seldom exceed 60 mph in NZ) and it retruned an amazing 24 mpg!  It had about the vaguest feeling shifter I’ve ever encountered though.

  • avatar
    colin42

    Question – In the recent Fiat breakup who got Iveco? As the Daily (if it’s still made) might be closer in size to the Sprinter sold in NA

    Hopefully they will all get a nose job before coming over to give them the RAM look – coz those Fiat vans have been hit with one mean ugly stick

    • 0 avatar

      Colin,

      Ducato is exactly same size as Sprinter. In all kinds of variations. As cargo van or people mover. Euro vans size don’t vary much.

      Now, Doblò is much smaller. It’s based on a compact car. But Ducato is full sized van.

      Fiat sPA controls Iveco. They just spun off Iveco and Case/New Holland and Fiat Allis from Fiat Auto. Now Fiat auto concentrates on passenger cars, and pick ups and vans, and Iveco does heavy trucks, Case agricultural macines and Fiat Allis construction machines. 4 different companies that could be sold in chunks, but preserving Fiat Auto (Fiat, Lancia, Alfa and in future Chrysler). Ferrari/Maserati are seperate companies too. All under Fiat spA.

  • avatar

    These things are vastly superior to any real BOF American van. Sorry.

    The Ducato has just about the best diesel engines in the market (the failed, thank God!, GM-Fiat tie-up had a lot to do with GM wanting to put its grubby hands on said engines). Very good low-end pickup-and-go, fine high-speed cruising at comfortable levels. Friend’s company had a multitude of Sprinter vans. Changed all to Ducato about 6 years ago. Downtime and maintenance costs about 40% better according to him.

    FWIW Ducato vans now dominate market in Brazil. Sprinter comes in a far second (I think due to tradition and brand-snobbery alone), Ford and Renault fight it out in the very bottom.Iveco vans come in third I think.

    Doblò is a fine small, city van. If you have a small business (flower, chocolate, pizza, plumber, carpenter even ambulance in Brazil) there’s a Doblò for you. Lower maintenance and fuel costs than any big van.

    The passenger version, if it makes it to America is a Scion xB of old. Fine family car (can seat 7, sliding doors), for older people (easy ingress/egress), and younger ones with “active” lifestyles (i.e., or those who carry lots of crap around). With back seats dropped there’s space galore. In the “Adventure” guise you get a raised suspension to help you down dirt roads (though no off-road, unless Fiat offers the 4×4 version). It’s a bit like said Scion, or Kia Soul, but with loads of space for things (Soul trunk is very limited). If Fiat gets marketing right they can sell it to same people who buy Soul, Cube and xB. Plus, at least comparing to Nissan and Kia get a real and useful trunk.

    So I don’t know how to conciliate ram’s macho image. Maybe macho alternative image.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      The Ford and GM BOF vans are ancient and the makers know it. The only reason they still sell is that they’re inexpensive compared to Sprinters, they’re tough, and they’re highly profitable as the tooling was paid for long ago. Ford will soon be replacing the E-series with a version of the European Transit. That should give Fiat/Chrysler something to think about.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      It is also why the divorce cost GM so much, or not because they did got the diesel technology.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Interesting to note that true American vans are really the last frontier in that there has been no direct competition with them. As such, they have been allowed to rot. However, while modern vans like this are a vastly superior drive, will they last and be as durable as a BOF van? The traditional old style vans are very durable even if they do suck to drive. Being that I have a very strong image in my mind of my last real Fiat in my life (1980 Brava) I am not so sure…the Brava was a joy to drive, but if a construction or delivery company had to depend on it, well, they would have been out of business. The interiors look much nicer than any van I have ever been in, so that is a big plus.

      One thing that will hold back any new van, at least for the commercial market, is the availability of aftermarket fit-out equipment. The old Ford van, for example, has near unlimited availability of interior shelving, drawers, equipment racks, etc. This creates the chicken and egg thing…will tradespeople buy it without aftermarket support and will the aftermarket invest in fit-out supplies without the market? In any event, there is no reason why vans have to be such a chore to drive. I suspect this type of product will spur redesign of the old BOF vans, much like it did for cars…

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Re: RAM: Since this isn’t RAM derived, why don’t they just call it a Dodge?  Then there’s no branding issue, and RAM is truck and Dodge is cheap hauling, whether people or stuff.

  • avatar
    cmoibenlepro

    “Because the new Ram commercial vehicles will be imported starting next year, expect only the van variants to avoid the “chicken tax.“”
     
    They could do like the Ford Transit, and remove the seats once imported.

  • avatar
    Boff

    I didn’t know macho branding had so much influence the commercial van market.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    They may start slow, like the Ford Transit Connect seems to be doing, but I can certainly see a market for them in the US. The flat-nose Japanese diesel trucks have practically taken over the medium-truck field judging by what I see on the roads.

  • avatar
    Bergwerk

    I wonder what the power-trains will be?  The Fiat web site indicates that these vehicle are Euro Bin 4 compliant and, if I am correct, that is well above current EPA regulations for NOX emissions.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    The new Doblo is a lot more stylish looking than the previous generation. I would seriously consider a 7 seater as a family hauler. It’s pretty clear that they are targeting the Transit Connect and Sprinter so I expect cargo and 2 row Doblos and cargo, passenger, and chassicab Ducatos. From what I’ve read the Sprinter is not as good as the latest Ducato and Transit so it cpuld be a strong seller.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Regardless of how well they work and will serve customer’s needs, both these vehicles (mainly the Doblo but also the Ducato) are just breathtakingly ugly. The Doblo in particular looks like an automotive interpretation of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.  I hope they get some serious restyling before they land here.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    The Doblo just plain won’t work as a Ram. It would be better to make it a Dodge. The Ducato you can get away with; slap a Ram crosshair grille on it and call it a day; the less you mess with it the better. But the Doblo is more for the Transit Connect set, for whom all Ram marketing is probably just a big joke. I mean, nobody in real life talks like the guy in those ads. He sounds like a cartoon cowboy. And the Toyota Tundra spokesman has been around longer, so it just seems like Ram is copycating.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    The Doblo looks like its a clever design but not ugly enough to be cute, or quriky like a vintage Citroen, HY but just fugly, and a macho Ram branding won’t help.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    FIAT didn’t learn much from the Multipla.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    These could do pretty well, but the choice of engine will be key.  Seems that only enthusiasts really go for diesels in the US, and so the importer inevitably puts a gas 4 or 6 in there instead.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie


    CORRECTION:

    The Dodge B Van was not a body-on-frame design, like its competitor. It was unibody with subframe sections added to rigidity.

  • avatar
    Garak

    A slight probem in the article:
     
    Ducato is FWD, not RWD.
     

  • avatar
    alessio215

    Most commonly about for the doblo will be the 1.3 litre engine
    with a fuel consumption of 4 litre diesel every 100 km average if drived softly
    (you can translated it miles per gallons)
    The same engine is used in the alfa Romeo Mito and Fiat punto
    it has 95 HP and 200Nm torque for a small 1.3L engine
    If the revieuw needs some car expert they are free to assume me :)
    pls let me know
    greetings

  • avatar
    jamest

    I quite like the look of the new Fiat Grande Punto Van, i’m going to get one for my small business once i’ve got the capital!


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