By George Polgar
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – While pick-up truck sales are often cited as an indicator of US small business vitality, 2015 promises to be the year of a new generation of small commercial vans.
The 2010 US introduction of the Ford Transit Connect, built and popularized by Ford Europe, aggressively launched the trend. Then the Nissan NV200, already sold in Asia and Europe, arrived in the US, notably as an approved New York Taxi.
Last month Fiat-Chrysler Automotive introduced the RAM ProMaster City, a small van with an enormous established market internationally as the Fiat Doblo.
Targeting 100,000 annual US sales, the new Ram ProMaster City has been Americanized with a higher ride and strengthened steel unibody chassis, both to account for longer distances and rougher US road conditions. The engine bay was also widened for a bigger 2.4 liter 4-cylinder power plant.
In addition to a solid ride and better handling than class competitors, the ProMaster City is really innovative with smart shelving solutions, self-stopping sliding side doors and a double rear gate that opens almost flush against loading docks.