The Ford Transit Connect may have briefly had the compact urban courier and delivery niche to itself in North America, but not for much longer. Chrysler confirmed that the Ram division will soon be offering a version of the Fiat Doblo compact van for the North American market, likely by the 2013 model year.
The move is hardly surprising, considering many -- even within Chrysler itself -- have hinted that the Doblo would join the Ram portfolio in due time. Chrysler's product plan, revealed during a marathon press conference held in late 2009, suggests a Fiat-sourced small commercial van would be imported into our market by 2012.
That prognostication wasn't far off. Chrysler still intends on importing the Doblo into North America, much like Ford does with the Transit Connect. As a result, Fiat announced today it signed a letter of intent with its Turkish assembly partner -- TOFAS -- to prepare for the new export business. Fiat expects to send 190,000 Doblos our way over the next seven years. To accommodate the extra volume, Fiat and TOFAS are giving the Doblo's production line in Bursa, Turkey, a $160 million makeover.
What hasn't been announced are details pertaining to the Doblo itself. Like the Transit Connect, the vanlet is available overseas in several different forms and with several different powertrain options (including small-displacement diesels). We wouldn't be surprised if Chrysler borrows a page from Ford's book and restricts just what configurations do end up crossing the pond.
What would you like to see in a Ram Doblo? Is a diesel option a must-have feature? Would a passenger version be a worthy investment? Send us your thoughts in the comments section below.