Ram brand president Fred Diaz says there was “a lot of head-scratching” when his company announced it was separating the Ram truck line from the iconic Dodge car line. But two years later, he says that decision has been vindicated.
At a press conference today at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, IN, Diaz noted that the Ram brand has consistently pushed forward with a series of innovative products designed for the commercial truck market in North America, resulting in sales boosts of 21 percent last year, with Ram pickup trucks picking up 23 percent in their segment compared to 2010. Ram has enjoyed 22 consecutive months of sales gains, Diaz says, and predicts that 2012 will prove to be a banner year with early sales figures showing the Ram brand already up 15 percent in sales compared with this time last year.
“It wasn’t very long ago that people were questioning Ram’s commitment to the commercial truck market,” Diaz said. “But today, it is clear that Ram has removed all doubt: We are in this industry to stay, offering a work truck for every job in the nation.”
New products are of course central to Diaz’s message, and Ram didn’t disappoint at NTEA, introducing four new models specifically designed for fleet and commercial truck customers.
Highlighting the new vehicles is the Ram 2500 HD CNG pickup truck, which Diaz says is the only factory-built CNG pickup truck offered in North America today. “This is not a conversion or a kit,” he noted. “This is a factory-built truck, assembled on the line next to other Ram 2500 trucks in Saltillo and fully covered by Ram’s five year, 100,000 mile warranty.”
Diaz says Ram is able to deliver a factory-built CNG truck thanks to parent company Fiat’s experience with this technology. According to Diaz, Fiat currently hold 80 percent marketshare of all CNG vehicles produced in Europe, and Ram was able to leverage that expertise in the design of this 5.7 HEMI dual-fuel engine.
The Ram 2500 HD features a full crew cab and 8-foot box and is powered by a HEMI engine modified to run compressed natural gas as well as gasoline. The truck features a 14.2-cubic-foot CNG tank as well as an 8-gallon gasoline tank, for a combined range of over 600 miles. In use, the dual-fuel system is automatic, transitioning from one fuel to the other with no driver input and little discernible difference in vehicle operation or capability.
Ram also announced two new fleet-focused Tradesman pickups, the Tradesman Crew and Quad Cab models. The new, full-size, four-door trucks offer seating for six full-size adults, V-8 power and a standard towing package. The Ram 4.7 liter V-8 is rated at 310 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque and delivers 20 mpg in highway driving. A more-powerful 4.7 liter engine is also available with towing capability up to 7,700 pounds. The ultimate power option, a 5.7 liter HEMI engine churns out 390 horsepower and 407 pound-feet of torque.
Ram also debuted a new, upfitter-friendly Ram chassis cut-away van, which provides the structural integrity of the truck in cases where modifiers need to remove up to 80 percent of the truck body — as in ambulance body installations, for example. “The new Ram chassis rear panel cut-away instructions were created as a direct response to customer input and are produced by Ram engineering,” Diaz notes. “This is just one more example of our efforts to maintain leadership in upfitter solutions for commercial trucks.”
All regular cab versions of the Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cab trucks can now be modified to properly remove up to 80 percent of the rear portion of the vehicle using the new instructions.