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First Drive: 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie

Comfort reminiscent of a luxury car with truck utility.

by Joseph Szczesny on Feb.12, 2019

The 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie offers comfort reminiscent of a luxury car, but offers plenty of truck utility.

Pickup trucks are hot now and no truck is getting more attention than the Ram 1500, which is ringing up scores of plaudits.

The honors, among them North American Truck of The Year for 2019, are well deserved.

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For anyone who has driven traditional pickup for work, climbing into the cab of a Ram 1500 Laramie is a revelation as it has the kind of comfortable luxury one traditionally associates with full-sized luxury sedans. (more…)

Automakers Launch Full-Size Truck Incentive War

Up to $16,000 in givebacks and discounts on some 2018 models.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jun.07, 2018

FCA has some of the largest incentives -- up to $16,000 -- available on its 2018 Ram.

Despite strong demand, US. Automakers have launched some of the most lavish incentives on full-size truck models seen since the end of the Great Recession, with discounts of as much as $16,000.

The move might come as a surprise considering pickups have retained strong momentum despite the weakening of the broader U.S. automotive market over the last year, and the latest round of incentives threaten to cut into the earnings delivered by what are traditionally the most profitable product segment in the market.

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Automakers appear to be acting for a variety of reasons, including the need to clear inventories ahead of the launch of all-new models from both General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as well as the potential weakness of segment leader Ford which lost thousands of units of production due to a supplier problem last month.

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FCA Investing $1b, as Ram HD Pickup Moved From Mexico to Michigan

Move to create 2,500 new jobs.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.12, 2018

Like its competitors, FCA has been pushing rapidly up-market with its pickups, the 2018 Ram 2500 Tungsten model shown here.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to invest $1 billion in a suburban Detroit assembly plant that will take over production of the Ram heavy-duty pickup in 2020. The truck currently is assembled in a Mexican factory that will be “repurposed” for another global product, FCA said.

The shift to the Warren Truck Assembly Plant will result in the creation of 2,500 new U.S. jobs, according to FCA. Separately, the Euro-American automaker announced plans to pay $2,000 bonuses to 60,000 U.S. hourly and salaried employees this coming spring.

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“These announcements reflect our ongoing commitment to our U.S. manufacturing footprint and the dedicated employees who have contributed to FCA’s success,” said FCA Chief Executive Office Sergio Marchionne. “It is only proper that our employees share in the savings generated by tax reform and that we openly acknowledge the resulting improvement in the U.S. business environment by investing in our industrial footprint accordingly.”

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FCA Set to Wind Down Passenger Car Production

Trucks Moving in at two current sedan plants.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on May.09, 2016

The Jeep Crew Chief concept reveals some "hints" of a production Jeep pickup to come.

With pickups, utility vehicles and vans now capturing about 60% of the U.S. market, automakers are struggling to shift production to match consumer demand, in some cases dropping once-popular passenger car models and refitting plants to produce light truck lines.

Nowhere is that shift becoming more apparent than at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. At least two of the maker’s sedans will soon head off to the junkyard, making room for expanded production of updated and possibly all-new pickups and SUVs.

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At least two plants will be impacted by the shift at the trans-Atlantic automaker, including one in Belvidere, Illinois and another in the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights where 3,000 workers have been on temporary layoff due to slow sales of the Chrysler 200 since early this year. Nearly half will be put on indefinite layoff in July, likely for as much as two years.

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Ram Truck Sales Bolstering Chrysler Group Profits

Brand making inroads in full-size pickup segment.

by Joseph Szczesny on Oct.31, 2014

The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is the brand's fastest-selling model. Ram is gobbling up marketshare in the full-size pickup segment.

The battle for pickup truck supremacy is getting more intense and Ram is enjoying a run that is not only gaining it a larger marketshare, but also a major contribution to Chrysler Group’s bottom line.

While Ram is still No. 3 on the list of full-size truck sales, it’s an active player in the segment and, perhaps more importantly, the brand’s leadership is ready to jump in and scrap for sales.

Power Up!

Bob Hegbloom, the new head of the Ram brand, said during a luncheon meeting with reporters that he was both surprised and disappointed with the Chrysler Group’s showing in the Consumer Reports annual quality survey, adding the company was moving to fix the problems cited by he influential magazine. (more…)

Ram Diesel, Toyota Highlander Hybrid Win Consumer Reports Nods

Both deliver unexpected mileage, magazine says.

by Joseph Szczesny on Aug.27, 2014

The Ram EcoDiesel delivers sedan-like mileage, according to Consumer Reports testers.

Consumer Reports has placed Fiat Chrysler’s Ram 1500 EcoDiesel at the top of its full-size pickup truck ratings due to its performance in fuel-economy tests, while the influential magazine also lauded the Toyota Highlander SUV.

The choice of the Ram Diesel underscores the growing intensity of the competition in the full-size pickup segment, which is undergoing a technical revolution as truck makers roll out new, more fuel-efficient powertrains and make other significant improvements meant to boost fuel-economy.

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Ford Motor Co. will launch a new, aluminum-bodied F-150 this fall that sheds up to 700 pounds and is expected to gain significant mileage, but the all-new truck wasn’t included in this round of tests by Consumer Reports.

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Chevy Hopes Buyers Will Rally Around New Silverado Rally Editions

Adding spice to a solid work truck.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Aug.21, 2014

Chevrolet is looking to jump start Silverado sales with a new Rally edition of the full-size pickup.

A decade back, “urban cowboys” made up a sizable slice of the pickup market. That niche largely vanished as the nation fell back into recession, and though truck sales are bouncing back big right now, the bulk of the buyers need their vehicles for work and chores, rather than to show off in a suburban driveway.

But Chevrolet is hoping to expand the appeal of its big Silverado line with the launch of a new series of Rally Editions that, it promises, will give the truck a “new attitude.” It can use the help. Despite getting rave reviews – and winning the coveted North American Truck of the Year trophy in January, the recently redesigned Chevy Silverado’s sales haven’t gained the same level of momentum as rival products like the Ford F-150 and Fiat Chrysler’s Ram 1500.

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“Silverado won more awards in 2014 than any other pickup,” notes John Fitzpatrick, Silverado senior marketing manager, adding his hope that “The Rally Edition packages will let customers add an aggressive new look to this great all-around performer.” (more…)

Ram Outsells Silverado for 1st Time

Ford F-150 retains solid segment leadership.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Apr.02, 2014

The addition of the Ram 1500 Diesel has helped the truck gain new momentum in the market.

One month doesn’t a trend make.  And it’s too early to see whether General Motors’ worsening recall problems are having an impact – but for the first time ever, Fiat Chrysler’s Ram 1500 outsold rival GM’s Chevrolet Silverado 1500 last month  to become the U.S. market’s second-best-selling full-size pickup truck.

March also marked the first time since 1978 that Chevy’s big rig wasn’t in second place in the fast-reviving truck segment, behind only the long-dominant Ford F-150.

Keep on Truckin'!

The numbers were close, Ram delivering 42,532 pickups last month compared to the Silverado’s 42,247. And Chevy can take solace in the fact that it remains entrenched in second place for the year to date, holding a more than 10,000-unit lead over the Ram brand: 107,757 Silverado 1500s to 96,906 Ram 1500s.

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Luxury, Japanese Brands Top Consumer Reports’ Top Vehicles List

Lexus named top brand but Tesla Model S is called Best Overall vehicle.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Feb.25, 2014

CR puts Chrysler on its Top Pick list for the first time in 16 years with the Ram 1500 pickup.

Luxury and Japanese brands dominate as Consumer Reports lists its top vehicle list for 2014 – but there were a few models among the influential magazine’s picks, including the first Chrysler to make the grade in 16 years.

But domestic brands Ford and Chrysler took some hits in the annual list of top picks, Ford and Cadillac hammered for problems with their glitch-plagued infotainment systems. Caddy dropped six spots in the 2014 rankings, landing in the bottom five, the worst of any General Motors brand.

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On the other hand, Toyota’s high-line Lexus brand was the top pick this year – repeating its performance in 2013.  It was followed by Honda’s upscale Acura and German luxury maker Audi.  But a relative newcomer to the industry showed up its more established rivals, the Tesla Model S being named Best Overall vehicle.  Consumer Reports editors cited the battery-electric sedan’s “exceptional performance,” as well as its “many impressive technological innovations.”

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Ram Diesel Claims Lead in Truck Fuel Economy

But will Ford take the lead with aluminum F-150?

by Joseph Szczesny on Feb.04, 2014

The Ram EcoDiesel is leaving competitors behind with its 28 mpg highway rating.

In the race for supremacy in the enormously profitable full-size pickup truck market fuel economy has become an increasingly competitive issue – and is likely to become even more important going forward, so makers that once put horsepower and towing limits atop their ads are now just as likely to emphasize mpg.

That’s meant some significant changes in truck design, with a growing emphasis on so-called “lightweighting,” and the emergence of a new generation of higher performance V-6s, such as the Ford EcoBoost V6 that has left competitors domestic and foreign scrambling.

Fuel for Thought!

But Chrysler has struck back with its new Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, landing a string of kudos, including the coveted Motor Trend Truck of the Year. And now, Chrysler is claiming what could be an even more significant victory, the EPA giving the diesel version of the Ram a car-like 28 mpg Highway Cycle mileage rating – the best ever recorded for a full-size half-ton pickup.

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