June 26, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Meet the Ram ProMaster City

Chrysler makes entry in small van market

The 2015 Ram ProMaster City (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)

Chelseaó The 2015 Ram ProMaster City ó Chrysler Group LLCís first foray into the small-van segment ó was unveiled Thursday to help the Auburn Hills automaker grab a piece of a growing market shared by rivals Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and General Motors Co.

The commercial van, being offered in both five-seat passenger and two-seat cargo versions, goes on sale in early 2015 to compete with Fordís popular Transit Connect, Nissanís NV200 and Chevroletís soon-to-be-released City Express.

Ram Truck is partnering with Fiat Professional to help produce the ProMaster City. Itís the brandís second collaboration with Fiat; the first was the original ProMaster six months ago.

ďAs businesses strive for lower costs, the demand for a smaller, more efficient van has increased and Ram Commercial is answering the bell with the all-new ProMaster City,Ē said Reid Bigland, president and CEO, Ram Truck brand.

In February, research firm IHS Automotive predicted the small commercial van segment would continue to grow, reaching a peak of 118,000 U.S. annual sales by 2017. IHS said the Transit Connect is expected to remain the top seller, growing to about 55,000 vehicles annually in 2017.

The van is being built in Turkey at the same plant as the Fiat Doblo, which has sold more than 1.3 million.

A 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 engine, which produces 178 horsepower, drives the van. It delivers that power through a nine-speed automatic transmission. The interior is nearly 52 inches tall, and each side is fitted with a sliding door.

Pricing was not announced, but itís expected to be competitive with other vans in the segment. The 2014 Transit Connect and City Express both start at about $23,000; the 2014 NV200 starts at about $21,000.

Mopar, Chryslerís service, parts and customer-care brand, said Thursday it will offer more than 60 accessories for customization.

Chrysler had virtually no presence in the commercial van segment for years, but added the ProMaster this year. Bigland said the ProMaster has reached about 15 percent of the retail market and he expects to ramp up production.

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The commercial van, being offered in both a five-seat passenger and two- ... (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)