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. Two years later, he says that decision has been vindicated.
At a press conference at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, Diaz said the Ram brand has pushed forward consistently 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, said Diaz, who predicted 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. “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 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 said is the only factory-built compressed natural gas pickup truck offered in North America today. “This is not a conversion or a kit,” he said. “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 said 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 market share of all CNG vehicles produced in Europe, and Ram was able to leverage that expertise in the design of the 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 CNG as well as gasoline. The truck features a 14.2-cubic-foot CNG tank and an 8-gallon gasoline tank for a combined range of more than 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 also is 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 said. “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 now can be modified to properly remove up to 80 percent of the rear portion of the vehicle using the new instructions.