The Dodge Division’s sturdy but long-in-the-tooth Ram van and wagon will be produced for one more year before reaching the end of their production cycles in 2003.

Production of the venerable Dodge van was originally scheduled to end at the conclusion of the 2002 model year, but its demise was postponed a year by DaimlerChrysler AG due to revised corporate priorities.

“Daimler Chrysler originally announced the 2002 date earlier this year,” explained Mike Rosenau, manager of Dodge public relations. “This forecast was included with other information about the company’s plans for several plant closings and some corporate restructuring.

“Upon further analysis of our situation, however, we came to the conclusion that it might be a mistake to invest money in converting the Pillette assembly plant (current production site for Dodge Ram vans and wagons) at this time. When the decision was made to terminate the Ram van in 2003, Daimler Chrysler stopped construction on plant changes which then gave the company the flexibility to add another year of production to the van.”

Van customizers and van camper (Class B motorhome) manufacturers were pleased with the delay, Rosenau said. “After the announced change, we received enough interest from our dealers and conversion companies to validate this move. With the extra production year, RV converters, especially, will have further time to find another OEM to work with if they wish to continue in the van conversion market.”

Rosenau said DaimlerChrysler currently has no plans to replace the full-size Dodge van after the end of model year 2003.