If you have worked in the commercial bus business, these names will sound familiar: Freightliner, Ford, and Chevrolet. If you are anyone in North America, this name is familiar to you: Dodge. And now Dodge will throw its hat into the bus ring. 2013 will mark the first time the mid-sized bus industry will be able to purchase a bus built on a Dodge RAM 5500 chassis…and Shopbuses.com has the exclusive preview.
The RAM 5500 offers standard features that are either not available or sold as options on other chassis; such as “polished aluminum wheels, driver’s information center, and integrated SmartBrake to name a few,” says Barry Hines, General Manager at Ameritrans. “The RAM chassis brings the Cummins engine and Aisin transmission power train to this class of vehicle, which is currently not available.” It also comes with an industry leading “5-year, 100,000 mile limited warranty standard”.
Ameritrans, based in Elkhart, IN, has been selected by Dodge to be the exclusive manufacturer to introduce and integrate the chassis into the mid-sized bus market. Ameritrans developed their R330 model to integrate the RAM 5500 chassis, and has improved upon earlier models to focus on overall quality and passenger comfort. “Much thought from the team here at Ameritrans, and input from the dealers, has gone into the new R330. The bus has all new body sty ling with radiused sidewalls, taller windows for better passenger viewing, lower skirt panels for a more finished look and ease of repair and we have brought a new looking interior treatment this year,” says Hines.
According to Hines, Chrysler and Ameritrans met back in March to discuss how the two companies could work together. Although there are other manufacturers in the market, “Chrysler’s goal was to choose a high quality builder that would provide the guidance and the proper background testing necessary to help them enter the market. The team here at Ameritrans offers just that with a combined bus and vehicle experience of over 60 years.”
Ameritrans feels that there is a need that is not being filled in the market, where the RAM 5500 with their R330 series allows them to meet the needs of its customers. “We know there are many operators that are looking for a vehicle that can handle small charters in a smaller vehicle that has the class and amenities of a larger coach, which I believe we have achieved,” Hines states. “At the same time the new vehicle can handle the rigors of airport shuttle due the body structural strength and chassis strength that the Ram 5500 brings.”
The Ameritrans R330 series with the integrated Dodge RAM 5500 chassis will be available for delivery in December 2013. The Ameritrans/Dodge vehicle, unveiled at BusCon 2013 at Navy Pier in Chicago, IL, will also be making appearances at the Limo Digest Show, LCT East, and LCT West.