By on January 14, 2012

Chrysler is dropping half a billion dollars into an expansion of one of its North American plants, Automotive News [sub] reports. This is where Chrysler will produce (to what degree remains open) its Fiat Ducato van, which will be sold as a Chrysler Ram Van.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler, told reporters in Detroit that this plant will be “the center for production of light-commercial vehicles in North America for us.” Red-white-and-blue blooded flag-wavers may object to the location of the plant.  It is about 180 miles southwest of Laredo, Texas. In Saltillo, Mexico.

The Ducato sells quite well in Europe, and is especially loved in the camper conversion crowd. Two out of three camper vans in Europe are revamped Ducatos. Fiat sells around half a million commercial vehicles each year world-wide. Just about everywhere, except in America.

In the U.S. , Ford alone sells more than 100,000 units of its Econoline and Transit Connect vans.  Chrysler has been van-less since Daimler kept the Sprinter after the divorce. Unless you count the commercialized Dodge Grand Caravan, that is. The Ram C/V sold a breathtaking 691 units in the U.S. in 2011.

Fiat had said they are looking into bringing the smaller Fiat Doblo and the larger Fiat Daily to the U.S. North America. Guess where those will go.

Come to think of it: Ram Van.

Has a nice ring to it. Could be popular amongst the camper conversion crowd.

 

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

63 Comments on “Guess Where This American Ram Van Will Be Built...”


  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Ram Van. Sounds like Bang Bus to me…

  • avatar
    Vance Torino

    Looking forward to the upcoming VAN RENAISSANCE!

    Ford’s big-boy Transit for 2013 will be the one to beat though. Production planned for Kansas City.

    Fiat/Ram Van production in Mexico leaves open the tasty possibility of manual transmissions. Even if the US Ram is automatic only, a gray-market update into US compliance should be a snap. One can dream, right?

    Where’s GM in this trend to Eurovans? I’m wondering if they play the Panther’s spoiler role and keep old-school American V8 style to themselves.

    Or, hell, where’s VW?

    Shaggin’ Wagons all around!

    • 0 avatar
      Sutures

      Yes, the Van-aissance is the future! But, due to corporate group-think, there will be drastic changes in the segment.

      First, in order to improve curb appeal, interior space will have to be sacrificed to make way for 22″ rims. The interior will further be decreased by the misplaced notion that people will only buy these vehicles if there are fold-flat seats, so expect the interior floor to be about 4 foot off of the ground. Load ramps will be included and be pleasantly automated. This will be all will be at the cost of increased vehicle weight, so expect the van of the new age to get no better than 20 mpg highway.

      Secondly, to make these rolling aberrations palatable to the consumer, the word VAN will be banned from being uttered. The great minds in marketing will instead insist on calling them Massive Utility Vehicles or MUV’s or “Moooov’s”.

      (MUV & Moooov (TM)(C) Sutures 2012)

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        These are primarily commercial vehicles – with some 1 ton chassis going to the RV market.

        Current Ford and GM vans share drive trains with pick ups. The European Ducato and the Transit will be expensive. You aren’t going to see a revival of the old “Good-Times” vans.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        20mpg sure ain’t bad for a camper van the size of some Ducatos, at least if you’re talking gas engines.

  • avatar
    Szyznyk

    It’s a shame it’s Mexican-built. When I buy $2000 stereo speakers for $95 from a shady dude in the Walmart parking lot I expect it to be from an American-built van.

  • avatar
    Polichinello

    Eh, it means less illegal aliens coming here, so it’s still a win in my book.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      A bit like this maybe …

      http://tinyurl.com/35p33ps

    • 0 avatar
      Dman

      Not all illegal aliens are Mexicans
      Not all Mexicans are illegal aliens

      • 0 avatar
        Brock

        Thanks for the insight.

      • 0 avatar

        Absolutely true Dman Thank you!

        I have a very good Job in Mexico and would never think on getting one in the US, unless our company send me there.

        I live 60 miles away from the Saltillo Chrysler plant and it has very strict QC on their production, their personnel looks clean and in uniforms, looks more like an european exotic car plant than a Chrysler one.
        Btw the Ducato is not purely Fiat, looks like the US will have a PSA/Fiat product finally.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_Ducato
        “This third generation Ducato has been available in Mexico since November 15, 2007, and over 30 different models are available. The third generation Ducato is currently only offered in the Mexican market.
        As part of the joint venture between PSA Peugeot Citroën and Fiat Group, the Peugeot version of the Fiat Ducato, known as Boxer in Europe, is also available in Mexico, but with the “Manager” nametag.

        Chrysler adoption

        Chrysler plans to adapt the Fiat Ducato for sales in the United States and Canada, reportedly by 2013.[3] It would be the second European-designed cargo van from Chrysler following their previous usage of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter design (2003–2009). At the present time (early 2012), Chrysler does not offer a large van in North America.”
        Lets see how this new Eurovan performs on the US.
        Best regards

    • 0 avatar
      another_pleb

      @Polichinello – “less illegal aliens”? What about illegal aliens who are able successfully to distinguish between quantity and number?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Eh, it means less illegal aliens coming here, so it’s still a win in my book.

      Mexico gets some manufacturing jobs and we save good produce picking jobs for real US citizens.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Chrysler is spending a bunch of money on upgrading factories in the USA and adding workers. Let’s see, the upgrading of the Indiana transmission factory is $300 million, $850 million for the Sterling Heights factory at Jefferson Avenue. Chrysler announced in August 2008 a $1.8-billion dollar investment in the plant that would expand it by 285,000 sq ft (26,500 m2) and upgrade the facility for the production of a new product in 2010.Chrysler announced in May 2010 that it would add 1,110 jobs to the Jefferson North Assembly plant for production of 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Chrysler has now announced a 3rd shift at Sterling Heights adding 1250 new jobs. At the Toledo Ohio Jeep factory Chrysler pledged to spend an additional $1.3 billion dollars to retool and upgrade our production facilities and add as many as 2,100 new jobs. This company is investing heavily in America’s future.

    Mexico buys a fair amount of Chrysler products and has a trade agreement that allows them to sell in Brasil. Unlike Japan or South Korea, Mexico is literally family to America.

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      +1 – Well said.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      All the Euros wants to shift production to low cost countries like the US :) At least until half of them, like Italy, gets kicked out of the EU and devalues 50%.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The trade agreement our government agreed to makes it impossible to sell new, American-made vehicles in Mexico, but Mexican made vehicles can come here. If a product has a large market in Mexico (and Brasil), not just the U.S., it has to be made in Mexico to be available in all three markets. Don’t blame the automakers if you don’t like it, they’re following the rules set by your politicians.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      +1 Exactly. Mexicans buy quite a few Detroit iron, whether made in their country or not. Japan and Korea bar imports (sorry, make ‘inconvenient’ auto imports) so that is not Free Trade or even Fair Trade.

  • avatar
    Rob Finfrock

    An eager and talented workforce, available for pennies on the dollar compared to their UAW counterparts. This is a no-brainer for Fiasler.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      If you were living in the kind of poverty many of those workers usually are before getting a job in one of those factories I bet you would be more than “eager” to work for pennies.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Mexican automotive workers are unionized, and aren’t exactly adverse to going on strike. Volkswagen’s Mexican operations seem to have a strike or threat of one every couple of years.

        This sort of thing doesn’t seem to hit the radar of American conservatives, who are under the illusion that labor relations abroad are just lovely. They don’t appear to realize that there are workers outside of the US who are better paid (such as the Germans) or more strike prone (such as the Koreans.) Ignorance is bliss, apparently.

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        Pch – I realize that you’re an All-Knowing, oh-so Enlightened Sage compared to us dunderheaded conservatives (in your own mind) but seriously, show me where in my post that I said Mexican workers weren’t unionized. While you’re at it, you can also show me proof those same workers aren’t significantly cheaper to employ than a typical UAW drone.

        Athos – Good for Fiasler, then, for giving those impoverished souls a few more pennies than they would have had otherwise. And good for me (and most, if not all of us on this forum) for not having to live there.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        If the UAW went on strike as often as did the workers in Puebla, I’m pretty sure that you wouldn’t be describing them as an “eager workforce.”

        There are smart conservatives, Mr. Finfrock. Unfortunately, you don’t happen to be one of them. And no, neither your redundancy nor your utter predictability will make you any smarter.

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        Sigh… sad how you can’t be bothered to respond to two simple questions. It must twist your insides to know that the points I’ve made are correct, or “right” if you prefer.

        Bzzzz…

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Either way you want to look at it, America loses when the manufacturing is in Mexico. This country needs those jobs. I do feel badly for the conditions in Mexico, or other places for that matter, but correcting those problems should not be at the expense of providing jobs for Americans. I have no problem buying say, imported wine, or a BMW. But when I go to the store and the conduit I need is made abroad, it makes me ill. Will America wake up before there is no middle class left?

      • 0 avatar
        newcarscostalot

        No surprise. Corporations do this all the time. The bottom line is profit for the shareholders.

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        “Either way you want to look at it, America loses when the manufacturing is in Mexico.” +1 Golden2husky. I want jobs for Americans too. I understand Marchionne wanting to build this van in Mexico if he wants sales in South America. Then they are low tariff or tariff free. And of course jobs in Mexico mean less illegals here. It’s not cut and dry but I would still like to see Americans or even Canadians get the jobs. I feel this way as a conservative and I have never met a conservative who would want American jobs to go overseas.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I, too, think that Fiatsler expanding to build ANYTHING is a good thing, even if it is in Mexico. Sergio doesn’t owe the UAW doodly squat. The UAW is lucky to have Sergio continue production in the US as it is with existing and future lines.

        Chrysler died. We, the people, put them on life-support and bribed Fiat to take Chrysler’s carcass off our hands for a paltry $1.3Billion. Chicken feed compared to the $50B large it costs us to keep GM’s lights on! Chrysler is a subdivision of Fiat! Not the other way around.

        So let’s not be outraged at Sergio and the board deciding to build in Mexico because it is better than killing off the Dodge Van altogether, and subbing it with a Fiat-built, Fiat-branded contraption.

        windswords, if Fiat had decided to build this van in the US, the NLRB would get involved to tell Fiat where they could set up the plant, just like they did with Boeing in SC. That’s just not do-able. Good decision, this.

        I would like to see Fiatsler do well because it is personal for me. If my wife’s 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee needs warranty work done during the covered period, I want Fiat to honor it.

        Having to deal with the UAW drove Chrysler into bankruptcy so I see Sergio as wise not to repeat that same mistake by diversifying his plants all over the globe. Yes, even in Mexico.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Either way you want to look at it, America loses when the manufacturing is in Mexico. This country needs those jobs

        That’s a nice theory. But what you’re implying isn’t realistic. You’re trying to put the sand back into the hourglass, and that just isn’t going to happen.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ….Having to deal with the UAW drove Chrysler into bankruptcy so I see Sergio as wise not to repeat that same mistake by diversifying his plants all over the globe. Yes, even in Mexico….

        Really now, how much of the old Chrysler’s problems were due to the UAW? I’ll be generous and say labor cost was 50% of the problem. What about the other 50%? Daimler as an operation has dealt for years with the highest cost labor there is – in Germany. Nothing new for them. No, Chrysler’s biggest problem was in the desirability of the products. They had the worst interiors ever, some of the poorest reliability, and the product line was stale. Former champs like minivans were decontented and cheapened to the point of no longer being competitive. And every bit of that is driven by management, not the UAW. If Chryslers enjoyed a reputation for something that made them better than the competition – reliability, design, build quality – pick one, well maybe they could charge a bit more to make up for more costly labor. The UAW may be one straw, but in no way is it the primary reason for Chrysler’s bankruptcy. Fiat could have chosen to build those vans in non UAW territory in America but chose the maximum profit place instead. You can call that a good business decision and in the short term it probably is. But as American standards of living continue to fall, who is going to buy these things?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        It’s true that the American standard of living has been on a decline for many years. There are many reasons for that, among which the US national economic policy that encourages American businesses to take their production OUT of the US by making it more advantageous and profitable to do so. Businesses have to make a profit or they end up like GM and Chrysler and the other bailed out failures, living large on the dime of the tax payers. Fiat is NOT an American business.

        But forewarned is for armed. By that I mean, MOST Americans realize this and are living their lifestyles AROUND these obstacles. I’ve had to do it. Those people who are foolish enough to stick themselves irretrievably in debt are finding that they took the wrong fork in the road, i.e. as in taking on a mortgage they could not possibly hope to ever repay because it was way beyond their means and station in life.

        Contrary to popular belief not everyone is cut out to be a home owner and not everyone deserves to draw CEO pay – something that our UAW buddies fiercely dispute.

        Now, since Fiat is an Italian company, Fiat is going to do what serves Fiat’s best interests and those of Fiat’s shareholders. No matter who’s to blame about Chrysler’s failure and subsequent taxpayer funded bail out, Chrysler is now a sub-division of Fiat and as such has to be able to add to Fiat’s bottom line.

        The way to do that is to seek the lowest production costs, and that includes labor expense. Add to that the NLRB factor which would no doubt complicate Fiat’s choice of where to open a plant in the US, and the choice is clear. Stay away from the US. NAFTA exists to allow duty-free imports into the US. I think it is a well-thought out course of action for Fiat to embark on. I think Fiat will continue to do very well in the next five years. That’s why I bought a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee for my wife.

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        I just want to point out that the plant in Saltillo Mexico is not a new plant built just for the new Ram van. It has been there and used by Chrysler for many years. It has built vehicles for both the North and South American markets. It could be that it was this plant that had the capacity to build the thing and that no American plant has the room now. Or it could be as I said before that Sergio wants to sell the vehicle in South America as well and it would face tariffs if it were built in the US or Canada.

        “windswords, if Fiat had decided to build this van in the US, the NLRB would get involved to tell Fiat where they could set up the plant, just like they did with Boeing in SC. That’s just not do-able. Good decision, this.” highdesertcat

        Where ever Chrysler decided to build the van in the United States or Canada it would be with UAW or CAW labor. That is the contract. They can build in an existing factory or a brand new one in a southern right to work state. It doesn’t matter – the union contract is with the whole company – not a location. And the company name is Chrysler, not Fiat. The UAW/CAW work for Chrysler. It says so in their contracts. If you want to work for Fiat you will have to apply at Fiat USA. Maybe they will get you a job working on something to do with the 500. The rest is Chrysler. Yes we get it. Chrysler is owned by Fiat now. But the name of the company is not Fiat its Chrysler. Your whole Fiat controls/owns/has sodomitic relations with Chrysler mantra is getting a little old.

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        Addendum
        I believe the UAW had much to do with the general state of decline of the auto industry but they can’t take all the blame. Management certainly had their part of the blame. For Chrysler in particular the biggest part of the blame goes to Daimler. Chrysler was in much better shape before Daimler got their hands on it and had a war chest saved up to get it through the next recession. The had decent vehicles, clever designs and a development process (copied from Honda with a sprinkling of AMC know how) that allowed them to bring vehicles to market quickly and for a ton less money than GM or especially Ford. Daimler completely FUBAR’d all of these attributes as well as sucked them dry of any cash. It’s a miracle they’re still around.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “Your whole Fiat controls/owns/has sodomitic relations with Chrysler mantra is getting a little old.”

        There are still people in denial who have to be bitchslapped back to reality.

        And as far as Daimler’s actions when they OWNED Chrysler, hey, Daimler could do whatever they wanted — they OWNED Chrysler at that time, just like Fiat now OWNS Chrysler.

        I am certain that future actions taken by Fiat concerning their subdivision formerly known as Chrysler will be very unpopular with the UAW and the Chrysler fans.

        Is Fiat going to ask Chrysler employees for their approval of any of those actions? Of course not! Just like Fiat did not ask for approval or permission from Chrysler employees when they decided to assemble this RAM Van in Mexico. Reality is what it is.

        I happen to believe that Daimler gave Chrysler a lot more than it got. The proof is in all the Chrysler products that are much better now than anything that Chrysler has ever had, i.e the 300, the 200, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, not to mention the new 3.6 Pentastar V6 based on Mercedes engineering and design. State of the art stuff!

        I happen to own a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee and it is infinitely better than ANY of the JGCs my neighbors own. Yeah, they’ll be trading their old ones for a new WK model. Maybe even this year.

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        “subdivision *formerly* known as Chrysler…”

        They changed their name? What’s the company called now? Is Nissan called Renault now?

        “Is Fiat going to ask Chrysler employees for their approval of any of those actions?”

        Companies do not ask their employees for permission to do things. They have managers who make decisions. Sergio has a team of managers – Americans, Canadians, Italians and other nationalities. THEY make the decisions. This is basic corporate governance which you don’t appear to understand. What’s interesting is that many decisions are coming out of Auburn Hills instead of Italy. But I’m not naive to believe that that means that Chrysler is somehow directing everything. These managers are from Chrysler, Fiat and other companies that have joined recently and they are represented by many nationalities – including the the US and Canada.

        “…will be very unpopular with the UAW and the Chrysler fans.”

        Haven’t seen anything yet that has me upset. I think this has come out better than anyone (especially the media) expected.

        “I happen to believe that Daimler gave Chrysler a lot more than it got.”

        You can believe what you want. The facts speak for themselves. $10 billion worth of facts and that’s only the beginning.

        “3.6 Pentastar V6 based on Mercedes engineering and design. State of the art stuff!”

        One could argue that the steering column and transmission in a 300 makes it a Mercedes platform (although they would be misinformed), and one could argue that the JGC was Mercedes and the Jeep engineers just waited for them to finish so they could put some Jeep sheet metal on top of it (but again they would be misinformed). But the 3.6 is Chrysler – “The Pentastar engines were created by Chrysler engineers to replace the V6 power plants used by both Chrysler Group and Mercedes” – Allpar.com. Mercedes had little to no involvement in it and that is why they don’t have it to use for themselves anymore. They just announced that they are going to develop a new 6 cylinder engine. If they had developed the Pentastar – even 30% of it they would have had some rights to it after they sold out to Cerberus. But they didn’t and so they can’t use it. Not without permission and paying a license fee.

        If you think that the 2012 JGC you own is a cheap version of a Mercedes then you are mistaken. You bought a very good Jeep, created and designed by Jeep and Chrysler employees, and built in the US (Detroit as a matter of fact) by UAW members. If your Jeep has the Pentastar engine and you thought your Jeep had a Mercedes engine then again you are mistaken. It is a Chrysler engine designed by Chrysler engineers and built in the US at a Chrysler engine plant by UAW members. I hope your ownership experience is a good one.

    • 0 avatar
      car_guy2010

      Why are conservative Americans so damn dismissive of unionized labor?

      And why is this disease prevalent on TTAC?

      It’s pretty easy to dismiss organized labor if you believe all the B.S stories you hear in the media. Also, at least there are some who have tried organized labor and can offer a more balanced viewpoint of it.

      Let’s just say that the money part is not all it’s cracked up to be. I make great money. I have great benefits. But, the management consists of penny-pinching cheapskates that insist on scaring their minions into full compliance with anti-union material. After all, when the CEO of the company makes $750,000/yr AND lends his own image to the anti-union material, well, unless you’re blind, you can see just how full of shit he is.

      • 0 avatar
        car_guy2010

        @highdesertcat- Sure, blame organized labor. How about blaming the people at the top that insist on taking home the lion’s share of the profits?

        Funny how certain groups of Americans insist that we’re under the scourge of socialism/communism and yet, have no problem with ceding the control of public utilities/assets to profit-driven corporations.

        I believe that is called fascism, especially when corporations have more rights than the average American.

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        Perhaps, instead of your obvious resentment of your employer — the person kind enough to grant you the opportunity to have a good job in this difficult economy — you need to ask yourself some serious and no doubt uncomfortable questions:

        1) Did that CEO making $750,000 a year need a union to attain his position? No, huh?

        2) So… why do you think that is?

        3) Could it be that person was able to function competently and effectively on his own merits, eventually rising to the level of CEO thanks to his hard work, rather than relying on a union to cover up his own incompetence?

        4) Do you think UAW drones making “only” $14 an hour should still be held accountable when they fail to check that brake pads are included on the vehicles they release from their plant, rather than using “that subassembly came from a supplier” as an excuse?

        And, finally —

        5) Do you think the American labor market would be more competitive and desirable if its workforce wasn’t comprised of workers convinced they are entitled to their jobs, as opposed to people grateful for the work and eager to demonstrate their worth every day?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        car guy, profits are what make the world go ’round. A business can either invest in America and die, as so many have done, or they can take their production elsewhere and make a profit. Wasn’t that the intent and purpose of NAFTA? Duty-free imports with our neighbors. America is exporting a lot more under NAFTA.

        Let’s not forget about the NLRB, Boeing and SC. There were plenty of pundits who saw that as a precedence for future risk avoidance on the part of businesses. And rightly so. I believe Fiat did too.

        Under America’s current economic policies it no longer pays to invest in America. We all wish it wasn’t so, but businesses have to make a profit and they make a lot more profit OUTSIDE of America without the hassles of organized labor hounding them into bankruptcy.

        Everyone has their own perception of the situation but Fiat and others have to follow their decision-logic tables to ultimately find the right decision which results in making money for Fiat.

        I think they made the right decision by opening this plant in Mexico, and I think they will continue to do very well in the next fives years. GM not so much.

        If we don’t like America’s economic policies it is up to us, the voters, to elect people who will change it.

        BTW, I’m not a conservative. I started out life as a Democrat in a union household. Became Republican when I started to pay taxes for the 20 years I was in the military. But as soon as I retired from the military and quit paying taxes I declared myself to be an Independent, not affiliated with any political party. Works for me.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        I’ll ask you a question, “why are liberal/union Americans so damn dismissive of big business and it’s executive management(the big bad rich)”……..if it weren’t for big business with it’s highly educated, smart, risk-taking rich guys, you union grunts wouldn’t be making…..”great money with great benefits”.

        When union employees are overpaid, overbenefitted and overpensioned, businesses and governments go under and need bailouts, serious cuts or both in order to survive. You may want to check out Greece, Spain, Italy, California, New Jersey, auto industry, steel industry etc.

        Union membership has been in decline for five decades, there is a reason, “they eventually starve the beast that feeds them”.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Rob, as to your questions:

        1. No, the CEO didn’t need a union to get his fat salary. But he likely came from a wealthy family who had no problem making sure their offspring could have access to the best education and resources. And should Junior get in trouble along the way, no problem, daddy will take care of that too. Sure he worked hard for it as well, but life is much easier when basics are a given, not a luxury. That kind of takes care of #2 as well.

        3. A union to cover for incompetence? Look at the boardroom at GM and let’s discus coverup for pathetic performance. And besides, failure means leaving with a golden parachute. Talk about dwarfing anything a union can provide.

        4. Yes, the workers should be held accountable for their mistakes and the union should be the first to admit a mistake. Now how about GM manning up about intake gasket failures in the millions of engines instead of covering it up so the fat cats don’t have to admit to their mistakes?

        Lastly where is it written that because you belong to a union you are automatically a drone that thinks you are entitled to lifetime employment? I worked for a number of years for an employer that shat on us and because of the treatment we received do you think I gave 110%? No way. They got back the crop they sowed. A thirty five dollar a day meal stipend while travelling for them, and a five week reimbursement after submitting expenses at the end of the month. I got the pleasure of floating a loan to these bastards every month while they spent lavishly on themselves. So I left and found an employer who treats me with respect, provides a good compensation package, and challenges me with good assignments. Do I give my all for them? You bet I do. But I was lucky and had good timing. There is a reason that unions came into being. The historical record does not paint a pretty picture for the vast majority of employers. Today’s economy just makes it easier for workers to get crapped on. When the economy tanked, I noticed “Help wanted” signs everywhere in many retail shops and food service establishments. Those “people kind enough to offer opportunity in these tough times” fired as many full timers as possible and replaced them with part time workers to avoid paying any benefits. Capitalism at its finest. Unions may have become too strong a one time to the detriment of productivity. But the pendulum is swinging hard the other way now. And America’s middle class is paying the price.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        In defense of unions and organized labor I have to say that I grew up in a union household. My dad was a union man, IBEW, shop steward, even. But even he could see the inefficiency of the union although he enjoyed union-scale wages. Big deal in those days. It wasn’t just monkey-see monkey-do. It was see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil (of the union).

        Once he got his appointment into the Federal system, however, he avoided joining the Federal civil service union because they couldn’t do anything for him that wasn’t already mandated by Congress. And he enjoyed even better Wage Grade compensation with much better bennies, like Federal Holidays, CSRS and FEHBP care. Stuff he never had as an IBEW member. AND NO UNION DUES!!! Such a deal!

        At one time there WAS a need for unions when employees were underpaid and abused, you know, like in the roaring twenties. But those days are long gone now. Everything is now mandated by Federal rules and regulations, set forth by a myriad of Federal agencies.

        So that by itself was what made the UAW stand out like a sore …. because they were overpaid in relation to sales and the quality of work they delivered. Does anyone remember the job bank?

        Who can disagree with the fact that GM and Chrysler are now doing much better since the much vaunted job bank was disbanded and the excess of redundant UAW members were let go?

        Yeah, I heard about those much valued machinists and specialists the UAW said the car makers could not do without, but guess what? The US auto manufacturers are actually doing better these days without them and all that useless overhead. More productivity too.

        Had that happened earlier maybe we, the people, would not own GM now and Chrysler might still be an American auto manufacturer.

        I think building this RAM Van in Mexico is a smart decision. It avoids toe-wrestling with the UAW and thumb-wrestling with the NLRB. And I bet the quality of assembly also improves along with profit margins.

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        @golden2husky – Any points you may have made after your first point were drowned out by your obvious class envy and resentment.

        You really think all CEOs are born with the world on a silver plate and Daddy on speed dial, hmm? Wow.

      • 0 avatar
        alluster

        I’m no fan of the UAW, and would like for it to disappear (with all the ex UAW members retaining their jobs as full time workers. However, to be fair, the UAW did concede a lot in the last three years leading to and after the 2009 Auto Crisis. GM, Ford and to a lesser extend Chrysler are at the healthiest they have been in the last decade or so. The Det 3 are producing more cars at higher margins with less workers. Check this chart out…

        http://www4.picturepush.com/photo/a/7358762/img/7358762.bmp

        Market share is up, profits are up, costs are down and the new products are resonating well with consumers. I would say our UAW is way more civilized than the militant auto union in Germany, South Korea etc. We talk about concessions, shared pains, pay cuts during tough times and such. How much have the Japanese Auto Unions conceded to their employers in the last one year when the strong Yen is wiping away all profits. Toyota alone loses 5 Billion a year in Japanese operations, so much have Toyota full time and union workers have accepted a pay cut ?? Anyone? Speaking off efficiency, GM produced 1.1 Million more cars that Toyota in 2011 with 111,000 less workers.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Ford Transits are good for what they’re used for but I’m not so sure we’re ready for FWD class 2 & 3 vans, trucks and motorhomes.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      Denver Mike,
      In Romania, where I often visit because I was born there, these kind of big vans ( VW, Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, Fiat to lesser extent) are used a lot as people movers in the cities or in between. They are with seats for up to 17 and they are used 24 hrs/day in heavy city traffic ( 2-3 drivers/van working in shifts). The drivers don’t own these of course so they drive the crap out of them. Those big sliding doors are slammed closed thousands of times per day. These vans keep on going…
      There are all 5-6 speed manuals with 4 cyl diesel engines mostly, some 6 but not too many.
      Talking about good old Dodge Vans…back in the late 90s, there was one big Dodge Ram in my town used as public transportation. For the first week, it was a novelty and everyone wanted to ride in it. It was well used (6-7 years old), but it was in good condition. Back in those days duty was not high on cars from USA. Now, it is prohibitive.
      I actually took a ride or two in it, and it was very uncomfortable compared to the Europeans who were very roomy and had low loading floors. The drivers hated the Dodge since it was auto with a thirsty V8 as well. In heavy traffic it was probably getting 8-10mpg gas which in Romania it was a death sentence. When I came back a year later to visit family I heard that the Dodge only lasted three months before it became way too expansive to run and maintain and it was sold to a small village for occassional use.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @Carrera

        FWD is less than optimal for towing because of the light rear end. Once you’re heavily loaded with cargo, you need more of the weight over the front end to get started in snow, dirt or rain especially on a hill. A trailer pushing down on the tail makes it worse. The diesel Sprinter had only marginal MPG advangtage over gas Sprinter or domestic V8 vans when tested by allpar. That was in ’07 and current diesel emissions have taken a further chunk out of diesel MPG/reliability.

        This isn’t Romania and those vans weren’t 50 states certified. Gasser V8s will cost less upfront and down the road. I own a diesel F-550 and prefer my gas F-550 by a longshot and not just because it costs me less overall. There’s no turbo lag and can pull up to any pump, anywhere, anytime. Thanks to current emissions, my diesel MPG advantage is marginal any negated by everything else.

    • 0 avatar
      Rental Man

      DenverMike please check out the UK Ford website. The Transit is so Flexable it is avalible as BOTH Front & Rear wheel Drive versions. You get to decide about yout own needs and order. Light version for better MPG with FWD all the way to a fully blown out Heavy Duty van like a Sprinter.

      Reaserch does find very few fully Automatic Vans by Ford or Fiat/Iveco. I’m sure they are both working on it.
      Goodbye Econoline. You were good. Time for the next generation vans from the old country.

    • 0 avatar
      mzr

      Not ready? We had them in the ’70s, and GMC built them.

    • 0 avatar
      fred schumacher

      I drove for Fedex Ground for a while, and I would have loved one of these front wheel drive vans: lower floor height, better winter traction, more cargo space in a smaller exterior, and better handling on gravel roads, with less bouncing around of the packages.

      There probably is a larger market for these vans in Latin America. Last time I checked, Mexico was still in North America. The ease of exporting to Brazil, one of the booming BRIC nations, must have been a major factor in plant location.

  • avatar
    Garak

    The Ducato is a frail, high-maintenance FWD vehicle. I doubt it’ll last long with people used to rugged F-150s or E-series vans.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      All tradesmen in Europe are using these vans..they can’t all be that frail. Of course they’re al diesels…no gas offerings at all.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Compared to F150s and E series offerings, all the Euro tall vans ride on what one could call frail underpinnings. Their priorities are simply different. Lower load floor heights pretty much mandates smaller wheels and lower ground clearance. Which matters exactly not at all for the kind of use most of them see.

        Of greater importance may be the extremely complex mechanicals used to make diesels run clean enough to pass recent standards, and to get maximum space utilization of the darned vans. The Euro penchant for doing more with less, often implies some fairly complex solutions to problems that unlimited space and bulk could solve rather simply.

        For people used to pay bubba 20 bucks to weld their E series back together after it breaks in half from running through Detroit style moon crater potholes, repair costs may be a bit off putting. But with fuel prices rising here as well, at some point the savings on fuel may well make up for it.

      • 0 avatar
        Garak

        Stuki said pretty much how it is.

        Also, more serious hauling stuff is usually done with RWD vans such as LWB Transits, Iveco Dailys, MB Sprinters or VW Crafters here in Europe. The large FWD vans simply can’t take the abuse.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Transit/Ducato/Transporter can easily handle the loads carried by the non-HD Econolines, and with many upsides. And the vast majority of vans (and pickup trucks) sold today are not of the 1-ton variety.

        As for welding, the companies buying these will run them under warranty, and if they break, they’ll expect to have the dealer do the repairs, not the corner garage. Bubba ain’t buying these kind of vehicles new anyway.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Love it!

    Vans, once the most American of all modes of transport, is currently one area where Europe is quite obviously the promised land. Going from an Econoline to a Sprinter, is like getting your first color TV after having been watching black and white forever.

    For a camper, I’d still rather build on a class 4 or above chassis cab, as the vans are pretty narrowly optimized for what vans mostly do in Europe; pick up and deliver in cramped surroundings, where a low floor and wide doors everywhere matters more than absolutely maximizing floor space for RV use.

    For the latter, a box truck with a rear door is simply an easier buildout. And the effort to shrink these vans’ exterior dimensions as much as possible, have rendered parts much harder to get to than in the typical Hino, making any mod a much bigger undertaking than simply hanging a generator or gray water tank off an exposed frame or somesuch. The vans do drive much nicer (and faster) though, as long as weight is kept down.

  • avatar
    Rental Man

    When Nissan went all out with their NV2500/3500 Van I was surprised as in other markets they just rebadge the Renault Master Van and the smaller Renaults as Nissans. If Mercedes Sprinter is now being followed by the Transit and Ducato they went classic and up stream.

    Crystal ball….

  • avatar
    alluster

    I wonder if chrysler is able to make this van in Mexico now that they are not owned by the Govt. anymore? Cause I’m pretty sure the govt twisted GM’s arm to mve production of the Sonic to US in exchange for the bailout money. Also, the production of trucks and cadillac SRX back to the US. Its a shame that GM isn’t allowed to freely choose where their products need to built depending on what makes the best business sense, which is to utilize lower labor costs in other countries. The bailout has been a double edged sword for GM IMO. The sooner they get out of govt ownership the better for them.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Great, the US has needed modern world class vans for many decades now. The Detroit 3 got away with phoning it in with their horrible pickup truck based vans for way too long. Uncomfortable, inefficient, and in some version hazardous vehicles have ruled this segment in the US for too long.

    Bravo Fiatsler!


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India