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Ram 1500 Classic Fans Rejoice: An Update Could Be Coming

© Motor Trend Staff   RM019 388FNto5avvblq7a6a8fvd80p43dj99

From Motor Trend

There is no end date in sight for the Ram 1500 Classic pickup that FCA sells alongside its newest-generation Ram, and it may get an update, CEO Mike Manley suggests.

As a lower-priced option, the previous-generation 1500 lives on as the Classic and it continues to notch steady sales while increasing Ram market share and generally driving the competition crazy.

As long as the Classic continues to make business sense, there are no plans to discontinue the truck based on the 2018 model platform anytime soon, Manley told investors on the second-quarter earnings call. In fact, it might get an update, Manley said.

© Motor Trend Staff

No details are forthcoming right now, but it does bode well for those worried the Classic will make a hasty exit. The Classic has one very big advantage: price. A bare bones Tradesman with a bench seat, 3.6-liter V-6, and eight-speed automatic starts at $29,340, and at the high end, a Big Horn with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and a host of available amenities is priced from $46,240.

The all-new Ram 1500 starts at $35,135 and offers a fresh design, better fuel economy including eTorque mild-hybrid technology, greater towing capacity, a large Uconnect touchscreen, and other upgrades that a new generation vehicle makes possible.


Three Ram plants should be enough

FCA makes Ram pickups, big and small, old generation and new, at three plants. Warren Truck Assembly in Michigan makes the Classic and will add the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. The plant in Saltillo, Mexico, makes the regular cab Classic as well as heavy-duty pickups. FCA retooled the Sterling Heights plant in Michigan to make the latest-generation Ram 1500, which debuted for the 2019 model year.

© Motor Trend Staff

Manley said the automaker has ensured Warren can continue to build light-duty trucks into the future as a safety valve given the steady sales growth Ram is enjoying. Ram pickups now have 28 percent market share, up 7 points from a year ago. Ram has jumped past the Chevrolet Silverado to take the No. 2 spot behind the Ford F-Series.

"If I look at overall volume demand today and the three sources that we have, even though it is true that the combined volume of those three sources is slightly in excess of what I would call today's forward-looking demand, we seem to be growing at a relatively good pace so I think keeping flexibility going forward is important," Manley said.


Two-truck strategy is paying off

"Which means if we make changes to the Classic, it may well stay as a Classic but updated Classic, if you know what I mean," Manley said. This two-truck strategy is working well in the showroom with the Classic as an entry-level truck and the all-new Ram 1500 as the step-up. GM uses the smaller Colorado as the entry-level truck, stepping up to the Silverado. Ram plans to add a smaller truck to the lineup, but those plans have yet to come to fruition.

© Motor Trend Staff

Meanwhile, production of the Ram Heavy Duty as well as the new Jeep Gladiator continue to ramp up. Gladiator has quickly secured almost 8 percent of the segment in its early sales days.

Overall, FCA had a strong second quarter given the slowing of the global industry that has caused many companies to report losses and revise overall financial forecasts downward. FCA reported a net profit of $884 million with a 14 percent increase in net income and a 3 percent bump in revenue, giving the company the confidence to maintain its guidance for the year.

The strength of Jeep and Ram contributed to a record second quarter in North America, compensating for disappointing sales of Maserati and struggles in Europe and China where sales are slowing.


Maserati product blitz is coming

Maserati has a busy time ahead with approved investment for 10 launches from 2020 to 2023 with three refreshes (Levante, Ghibli, and Quattroporte in 2020), four product renewals, and three additions to the lineup, all with electrified versions. One of the new vehicles will be shown next year at the Geneva auto show.

© Motor Trend Staff

The new Maserati nameplates include a sports car next year—likely the Alfieri—followed by a mid-size SUV below Levante and a sporty convertible (Alfieri) in 2021. For 2022, there is a new Quattroporte and GranCabrio. Looking to 2023, Maserati will introduce the next-generation Levante.
In Europe, FCA is preparing to make plug-in hybrid versions of the Jeep Renegade and Compass in spring 2020 and will also make a pure electric Fiat 500 early next year.

Toledo North is getting ready to add a plug-in hybrid Jeep Wrangler next year, as well. A refurbished plant in Detroit will be ready in late 2020 to make the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and a three-row Jeep SUV.

© Motor Trend Staff



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