Ram mulls mid-size pickup to take on Ranger and Colorado
In an earnings report conference call with investors last week, as reported by Automotive News, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Mike Manley said that the company is hard at work on a Ram-branded midsize pickup truck to fill a “clear hole” in the automaker’s portfolio of trucks. A gap not, Manley indicated, filled by FCA’s new midsize Jeep Gladiator pickup.
“Gladiator is a very, very different mission,” Manley said, likely suggesting a new midsize Ram pickup would be less rugged and not as off-road capable as the Jeep-branded truck. It would also, apparently, need to be less expensive to build.
“Being able to find a cost-effective platform in a region where we can build it with low cost and it still being applicable in the market is what [we’re] struggling with at the moment,” Manley said.
Platforms can be region-specific and not necessarily suited for sale in the North American market. FCA is likely evaluating its global platforms, but it’s possible that it could contract to use another automaker’s platform. Manley’s statement could also be interpreted to mean that the company is considering importing a midsize pickup to North America after assembling it in a low-cost region. When asked to clarify, a spokesperson for FCA declined to comment.
Manley also implied that for the time being FCA will continue its two-truck strategy in the full-size segment, keeping the previous-generation Ram Classic pickup in production.
Car and truck sales have been declining recently at a time when the overall economy is strong. Analysts say one factor is sticker shock—new cars are, in general, still very expensive. Keeping the previous Ram on sale as the Ram Classic gives dealers a low-cost option for budget-conscious truck shoppers, including commercial buyers, looking for a basic work truck.
“The strategy has worked well for us,” Manley told investors. “The Classic is what I would call the real traditional workman’s truck.”
As for the midsize pickup to come, we’ll have to wait and see.