ATLANTA. Declaring Chrysler was not letting up on its "commercial vehicle market offensive," Joe Veltri, director of truck product marketing, described a range of enhancements to all Dodge commercial vehicles at a news conference here this week at the National Truck Equipment Assn.'s (NTEA) Work Truck Show.
"Our new owners [of Chrysler] are committed to keeping us strong in this market," Veltri declared right off. "Since our return to this market in 2003, we have launched six vehicles—the 3500, 4500 and 5500, the Sprinter and the Grand Caravan Cargo Van. With 33,500 commercial vehicles sold in 2007—a 285% increase since 2003-- Dodge is now sixth-largest commercial manufacturer in the U.S. And that was earned the hard way, with great products and service."
According to Veltri, a long list of upgrades and enhancements can either be credited to 2008 models or are planned for 2009 models:
- Fuel economy performance for 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs are 23% better than Chevy Kodiak and GMC Topkick and 14% better than Ford F-550 Chassis Cab
- 2008 Dodge Sprinter offers 25% better fuel economy than Ford E-Series vans
- 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs certified for up to 1,172 lbs. payload advantage over Ford F-450 and F-550 chassis cabs
- 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 chassis cab standard Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) increased to class-leading 24,000 lbs.
- Power Take-Off (PTO) pump ratings for all Ram chassis cabs increased to 555
- PTO prep package now available with Laramie trim-level trucks
- All-new ambulance prep package introduced for 2009 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs
- Upgraded brake system for 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 Chassis Cab extends service intervals and delivers maximum stopping power
- New 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 with Variable Valve Timing delivers increased horsepower and torque ratings with improved fuel economy
- Cummins 6.7-liter diesel engine available with Remote Start (automatic only).
Veltri also noted that for small business owners, the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan Cargo Van is optimized with a number of new factory upfit options. These included a new exterior vinyl window shading that can be applied to the outside window; both full- and half-width cargo dividers; wire mesh and solid metal window interior inserts; a cargo compartment floor mat, and carpeted and molded wall liners placed over the inside of the windows so others can't see inside.
Looking ahead, Veltri told FleetOwner that Dodge will offer a new Cummins light-duty diesel—"being developed even as we speak"—sometime after the 2009 model year. He also said that a hybrid-powered Ram 1500 half-ton pickup is in the works for the 2010 model year.