October 8, 2012

Detroit Rivals Gunning for Transit Connect?

Andrew Charles

Recent trademark filings by both Chrysler and General Motors indicate that Ford’s next-generation Transit Connect Wagon may not have everything its own way in the North American market. Chrysler has long hinted that versions of Fiat’s class-leading Dobló compact LCV and the Ducato large van could fill out the new RAM brand’s commercial vehicle offerings. Trademark applications in the US last month for both Ram Promaster and Ram Promaster City suggest that plans for both vans are progressing. The big surprise though comes from General Motors, which currently does not offer a modern compact LCV of its own anywhere in the world. Opel/Vauxhall’s Combo, originally a segment pioneer, has been replaced by a version of the Dobló produced by TOFAŞ in Turkey; while several emerging markets sell small Chinese Wuling vans under the Chevrolet badge, unsuitable for the US market. Nevertheless GM filed a trademark application in the US this month for Citi Express, hinting that the company is at least considering a compact commercial van for the US market.

In other trademark news, Nissan has filed an application in the US for NP300. The current NP300 is sold in Mexico and other markets as a one-ton work-truck version of the old D22 Frontier, complete with optional tipper-bed. While this version is unlikely to come to the US the filing does hint at a commercial version of the Frontier for Nissan’s new Commercial Vehicle business. While not yet supported by its Japanese parent, Nissan North America has filed applications for a series of Q-Series model names for Infiniti. The company may be looking at a long-wheelbase version of the M-Series sold in China. As with the last Q-Series sedan, this car is already sold in Japan as the Nissan Cima. Chrysler meanwhile is looking to expand its range with an application for the Chrysler 100, presumable a premium small car like the Lancia Υpsilon.

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