Dodge re-enters commercial market

DODGE will aggressively participate in the commercial vehicle market with a re-entry plan featuring a van-centric product strategy — Sprinter, Caravan C/V, and Cab/Chassis — complemented by the Ram Box-off, according to Craig Fisher, director of commercial vehicle marketing & product planning.

“We have a can-do attitude,” Fisher said. “We're coming up with a completely new line of products. There are a lot of people in this company who know how to make commercial vehicles happen. Over the next couple of months, you're going to see a brand-new Dodge.”

He said BusinessLink dealers will be the Dodge Commercial Truck Network, and upfitted vehicles have a key role in achieving sales. The market strategy will focus on unique, differentiated products, and superior ownership experience.

Fisher said Dodge offers a comprehensive lineup of vehicles and services designed with business in mind: durable trucks; a wide range of job-rated Ram trucks; commercial van configurations; service advantages such as BusinessLink dealer network; ON THE JOB commercial incentives; exclusive Mopar commercial accessories; and dealer support personnel specifically trained to meet specialized commercial needs and schedules.

Fisher said BusinessLink is a Small-business program for fleets of 50 or fewer vehicles that is designed to save money, time, and hassles for the business owner. It offers important fleet services such as next bay priority service, extended service hours, no-charge loaner vehicles, free shuttle service, discounts on Mopar Parts, and a dedicated business account manager.

Mike Hawarny, product planner for commercial vehicles, said the 2005 Dodge Ram 2500/3500 Box-Off Program has typical applications that include: utility/service bodies, flat-bed, stake, landscape, cube, rancher bodies, and catering bodies.

The Box-Off Program is offering: regular cab and quad Cab; 4×2 and 4×4; 17" wheels and tires; 35-gallon fuel tank; auxiliary fuel filler kit; CA dimensions of 37" and 57"; and rear frame rail spacing of 42".

The 2500 regular cab 4×2/4×4 has a 5.7L Hemi, 8650 lb GVW, and a maximum body and payload of 3700 lb; the quad cab 4×2/4×4 has a 5.7L Hemi, 8800 lb GVW, and a maximum body and payload of 3575 lb; and the regular/quad cab 4×2/4×4 has a 5.9L Cummins, 9000 lb GVW, and a maximum body and payload of 3130.

In the 3500, new for the 2005 model year: regular/quad cab 4×2, DRW, 5.7L/5.9L, 11,000 lb GVWR, 5550 lb maximum body and payload, and 23,000 lb GCWR; regular/quad cab 4×4, 5.7L/5.9L, 11,500 lb GVWR, 5580 lb maximum body and payload, and 23,000 lb GCWR.

The 2500/3500 SRW was introduced in the spring of 2003, and the 3500 DRW will be introduced with the 2005 model year.

Cargo van

New for 2005 on the Caravan C/V Cargo Van: bodyside molding; front fascia and grille design; message center integrated into instrument cluster; and driver's inflatable knee blocker.

The Caravan C/V Cargo Van is for smaller business and commercial needs. It was redesigned for commercial use with both short and long wheelbase versions; the 3.3-liter V6 powerplant mated to a four-speed automatic; and special commercial suspension tuned to accommodate higher GVWRs up to 5,700 lb for Grand Caravan C/V.

Standard features include air conditioning, front and rear power outlets, and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS.

It has no glass on the sliding door or rear quarter, no intermediate or rear seats, a tough, industrial rubber floor covering, and is available in assorted upfit packages.

He said the news for the 2005 Dodge Ram 1500/2500/3500 includes: Cummins diesel has been improved to a class-leading 610 lb-ft of torque with 325 HP (for the 2500/3500 only); Power Wagon option available on 2500 4×4 5.7L Hemi gas engine only; electric locking front & rear differentials; electric disconnecting front sway bar; front electric winch; unique exterior badging and floor mats; power sunroof optional with quad cabs; satellite radio optional with all quad cabs (late intro); new 6-speed manual transmission; 3.21 rear axle ratio standard on 1500 4×2 with manual transmission; and mineral gray replaces graphite in the color scheme.

Fisher said ON THE JOB is for business and commercial customers, offers cash incentives, and discounts on upfits and accessories.

He gave this BusinessLink and ON THE JOB summary: there are 381 current BusinessLink dealers; future growth is planned to cover the top 400 markets; BusinessLink dealers use ON THE JOB seven times more than other dealers; 2003 ON THE JOB redemptions have increased 61% for BusinessLink dealers; and BusinessLink dealers will be the Dodge Commercial Truck Network.

He said Dodge Sprinter and Ram trucks are central to the brand's commercial vehicle strategy, including a full line of Class 1, 2 and 3 vehicles. He added that specialty body applications further add to Dodge trucks' hard-working reputation.

Jim Schubmehl, brand manager for commercial vans, said the Sprinter family of vehicles is positioned to address a large component of the commercial truck and van market. He said Sprinter has best-in-class fuel economy, payload capacity, load floor height, side step in height, turning diameter, and interior compartment accessibility.

He said Sprinter delivers nearly $4,000 in savings per 100,000 miles of operating costs for fuel and maintenance vs the competition. He said the net savings for Ford are $3,824 and for Chevy are $3,921.

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