Within the next three weeks, Chrysler Group anticipates delivering its 2010 Ram heavy-duty pickups to dealers. The event will mark the first time the automaker has debuted a new model lineup since emerging from bankruptcy last June.
The new trucks will also be the first vehicles to be launched since Chrysler and Fiat SpA CEO Sergio Marchionne split the Dodge brand into two separate divisions; Dodge cars and Dodge Ram trucks. The two divisions are being managed as completely separate ventures, each with its own P&L accountability.
During a press conference held in Ypsilanti, Michigan on Tuesday, Chrysler executives said production of the Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty pickups began in Saltillo, Mexico last week.
Chrysler has not released any sales projections, but it is no doubt counting on the trucks to bolster sales of the automakers top-selling line of vehicles. Chrysler sells more Ram pickups than any other vehicle in its lineup but saw sales drop by 27% so far this year. Overall sales across all divisions fell about 40% during the same period.
The Ram 2500 is Chrysler’s answer to the Chevrolet Silverado HD, Ford Super Duty and GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickups, and according to Chrysler, the company held a 23% U.S. market share last year.
The new Ram 2500 and 3500 will offer many of the features found in Chrysler’s 1500 light-duty pickups which the company introduced last year.
Dodge is hoping to differentiate itself from the competition in a number of ways. The new Ram heavy-duty pickups offer upgraded interior design, increased towing capacities and a choice of two engines: The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 gasoline engine and the 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel engines. The Hemi V-8 delivers 383 hp and 400 pounds-feet of torque while the Cummins Turbo Diesel is rated at 350 hp and an impressive 650 pounds-feet of torque.
The 2010 heavy-duty Ram pickups also feature leaf springs for the rear axles and a hydraulic spring that attaches the cab to the frame and minimizes bounce to provide a smoother ride.
A new crew cab model has been added to the lineup. According to Michael Berube, Dodge’s director of pickup truck product planning, crew cabs now account for one half of all heavy-duty pickups sold in the U.S.
The company plans to announce pricing details on Friday and their head of truck marketing, Mark Heber said, “We are going very aggressive at the competition on pricing.”