The Ram brand is going places that few would have thought it could go when it was separated from Dodge beginning with the 2010 model year. Its Ram trucks continue to impress, the Ram C/V is popular with commercial buyers and the all-new Ram ProMaster gives the brand broader access in the commercial vehicle market.
Truck of the Year
The Ram 1500 is also Motor Trends’ 2013 Truck of the Year, beating out the Nissan NV Passenger Van and the segment leading Ford F-150 to win. Demand for the Ram 1500 is on the rise with Chrysler planning to expand production to build 300,000 units for 2013, a near 33 percent increase over 2012. The company announced last November that it was expanding production at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant to accommodate a third shift. That new shift begins in March and adds 1,000 jobs according to aCBS Detroit affiliate.
Adding production to its truck plant sends a signal that Ram intends to compete more aggressively in the highly profitable full-size truck segment. Ford is the industry leader followed by GM with its Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks. Ram, however, easily outsells the fourth place Toyota Tundra, a model that will be significantly updated for 2014. The Nissan Titan also competes in the segment with Nissan Motors announcing earlier this month that it would not quit the market despite slow sales.
Vehicle Dependability Study
Ram got another boost this week when J.D. Power and Associates recognized that the brand had the best year-over-year increase in long-term vehicle dependability among all automotive makes. The Power study looked at 2010 model year vehicles and noted that customer reported problems fell sharply when compared with 2009 model year trucks. Chrysler’s brands routinely finish below the industry average with Jeep and Dodge brands finishing near the bottom of the heap in the 2013 VDS study.
The Ram brand received another boost when its ProMaster commercial van was introduced at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show earlier this month. That van, based on a Fiat chassis fills a void in the Dodge Ram line up that was created when the Daimler-supplied Dodge Sprinter was discontinued in 2010. The new van is powered by Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 or optional 3.0-liter inline 4-cylinder EcoDiesel engine, the latter supplied by Fiat.
The one area that remains a mystery for the Ram brand is the Ram C/V, a commercial van based on Chrysler’s popular minivan platform. The next generation minivan will be out by 2015, a model that will be sold by Chrysler with Dodge getting a crossover to replace the Grand Caravan. Chrysler Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has promised to slim the minivan line down to one nameplate, thus Ram may no longer see its own vehicle after the 2014 model year.