By Andrew Ganz
Tuesday, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 3:21 pm
 
An intrepid Leftlane spy nabbed photos of a full-size Fiat Ducato van dressed up in FedEx Express garb earlier this week in a Dallas suburb.

The spied van was clearly badged as a Fiat, although it featured a Michigan license plate on the rear. Since FedEx is based in Memphis, Tennessee, the Michigan plate likely indicates that the logistics firm is testing the big van for Fiat and Chrysler in the United States. FedEx is no stranger to serving as a test bed; the company has also contracted with Nissan to demo that Japanese automaker's NV200 EV.

The discovery in Texas likely solidifies rumors that Fiat, through its Chrysler distribution network, is at least seriously considering selling its new Ducato commercial vans in the United States.

Rumors have persisted for more than six months about Fiat federalizing its full-size van and giving it a Ram badge, especially since Chrysler's truck division lost access to its Mercedes-Benz-supplied Sprinter vans. Previously, the Sprinter was offered through Dodge and later Ram dealers to commercial buyers, who bought the Euro-oriented diesel-powered vans in droves.

The Ducato, however, was unveiled in May in Europe. Shortly thereafter, a supplier leak indicated that Fiat planned to sell its big van to commercial buyers in North America. At the time, it was assumed that the Ducato would take on Sprinter and Ford's E-Series, but the Blue Oval has since confirmed that it will sell its European-market Transit in North America.

As a result, it seems natural that Fiat would look to sell the Ducato as a Ram in this market in order to compete with Ford and Mercedes-Benz.

Pressed by Leftlane, Chrysler said that it could make no official comment on the Ducato spied in Texas.