This Letter to the Editor appears in the Nov. 5 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
Your item titled “Ram to Add Commercial Division” caught my eye and my ire (TTNews.com, 9-27).
According to the story: “Chrysler Group LLC is creating a new commercial-truck division within its Ram truck brand to target fleet buyers and small businesses. The Ram Commercial division will have its own dedicated staff in all areas of the company that develop vehicles including product planning and design.”
The story also noted that Chrysler is 58% owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA, “which is expected soon to introduce Fiat-built vans under the Ram brand.”
The Europeans are big on vertical integration. We’re not. Why can’t these folks be content to build the chassis and leave the work-body business to the experts?
Fiat is not the first to go down this road. This adventure into the van body business is just the thin edge of the wedge. Commercial body builders (CBBs) will be faced with competition from their former dealer accounts, who will use their “box” offerings to win more chassis business. The local CBBs will see their overall market sales sink and will be left with the more complicated applications.
They say in the story that their fleet customers will be able to consider Ram for everything “from soup to nuts.” But has Fiat considered the fact that it will be required to have commercial-truck division offices from coast to coast to plan and design customers’ special needs? I say save your money, Fiat, and keep building great trucks. This cradle-to-cradle idea is bound to be unprofitable.
Owner, LC Enterprises
St. Marys, Ontario