Automotive Fleet

OCT 2013

Magazine for the car and truck fleet and leasing industry

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Page 45 of 81

VEHICLE RESEARCH sales, noted that the feedback he has received from feets indicates that they are taking a holistic approach to their vehicle needs. "Predominately, what we're seeing is that everybody is looking at their business practices and are trying to do more with less, trying to be more efcient. I don't think you can say that one vocation is lending itself to a particular vehicle or van, because it's all over the board. Te feets are looking at it individually," Brown said. Aiding in the ProMaster's individual appeal to the vocational market are the improved ergonomics, particularly its low foor height, which measures just 21 inches from the ground, compared to the next closest competitor at 28 inches, according to Sassorossi. Along with the low foor height, the ProMaster has a high ceiling height and width. "You think about the cycle time of how many times somebody is going in and out of the van during the day. Tis gives the ProMaster a pretty signifcant ergonomic advantage," Sassorossi said. Handling is another factor that has piqued the interest of vocational feets, particularly the parcel feets that had access to the Ducato models, according to Sassorossi. "One of the key features — that the ProMaster is a front-wheel drive van — raised a lot of eyebrows. It passed the test and has become a signifcant 'why-buy,' because of what feets [that used the Ducato] found in the Northern climate — the extra traction in the varied winters. Te front-wheel drive is something that their drivers never had access to and was a signifcant plus," Sassorossi said. Another advantage in these days of economizing and upcoming CAFE regulations is the ProMaster's fuel efciency. "It surprised the [test feets]," Sassorossi noted. Ram also said customers will be favorably impressed with the vehicle's overall mpg fgures. In addition, the van's front-wheel drive and unibody construction means it's "signifcantly lighter," Sassorossi noted, which increases the maximum payload capacity to 5,145 pounds and its maximum towing capacity to 5,100 pounds. Te ProMaster is available with either a gasoline-fueled 3.6L Pentastar V-6 or a 40 AUTOMOTIVE FLEET I OCTOBER 2013 Among its features that have piqued the vocational market, the Ram ProMaster has a side cargo door, a low foor height, and a high roof. Test feets were impressed by the van's handling, according to Ram. 3.0L I-4 EcoDiesel engine. Te Pentastar is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and the EcoDiesel is paired with an electronically controlled 6-speed automated manual transmission. Driving performance has been another factor winning over feets, according to Sassorossi. "Te maneuverability, particularly for parcel delivery, being able to navigate tight turns, along with the front-wheel drive, fuel economy, and low step-in height were the 'wow' factors," he said. Made for Upftting Apart from its fexible confgurations and capabilities, the ProMaster is made for upftting. Here, too, its design works in its favor, according to Sassorossi. Te van's foor is fat and the side walls are nearly vertical in relation to the foor, giving the ProMaster a "true box design," he said. "Our feedback from the upftters has been extremely positive, for them to design solutions tailored to the customers, they get maximum use of the cargo capacity. A lot of vans get rounded at the top, so you start losing the width between the shelving and the middle. We don't have any lost space. We have the high ceiling height, allowing most people to stand up and the width between the shelving on both sides is appropriate. And, for the upftters, they're used to having to modify and work within the diferent angles of the diferent confgurations. Tey're extremely pleased to be working with the ProMaster design," Sassorossi added. According to Brown, Ram has been working with upftters to get them units, which has sparked their creativity. "Tey have been talking with their customers on what their wants and needs are and to tailor the solutions to them. One of the things we're picking up from the upftters, in the past it was about volume and putting shelves and bins in, and, now, the upftters spend a lot of time with their customers working on specifc solutions," Brown said. Te use of composite material is something that a number of the upftters have been using to maximize cargo capacity. And, it isn't just the upftters Brown and his team have been working with. Customers are part of the dialogue as well. "We've been having a lot of dialogue with the customers. As they see the best-in-class features and the versatility they're reaching out to their upftters and saying 'you're currently providing us solutions today; what confgurations can we do with the ProMaster to continually evolve and make a better tool for our drivers,' " he said. Tere have been some generic packages already developed for the ProMaster, but nothing specifc for a particular vocation, according to Brown and Sassorossi. To aid the upftting process, virtually all of the primary vehicle systems are packaged forward of the cargo area. Ram ProMaster customers can work with whomever they want to upft the vehicle, according to Brown. "Te OEM may change, but many times the upftter does not change. Tere is already a current relationship with the upftter," he said. Converting the Ram ProMaster into the passenger version of the van will be 100 percent through the upftter. "Te upftter can work directly with the customer about the best confguration for the feet, and then from there it also provides having all the volume through the upftter, it becomes a more viable case for the upftter to do the design, the engineering, and the quality testing — and all of the testing approvals for the multiple passenger seating confgurations they can get into," Sassorossi said. AF

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