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Chrysler's heavy-duty Ram pickups are on the way to dealers

Wed, 21 Oct 2009

Chrysler's Ram line of 2010 heavy-duty pickups, the first new vehicles to debut since the automaker emerged from bankruptcy in June, will begin arriving in dealerships within three weeks.

They are also the first products launched under the new Ram brand since Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne split the Dodge car and Dodge Ram truck lines. The brands are now run as separate businesses, with their own profit and loss accountability.

Production of the Ram 2500 and 3500 began last week in Saltillo, Mexico, executives said at a press debut here today.

While no sales projections were released, the trucks are being counted on to boost Chrysler's top-selling vehicle line. The automaker sells more Rams than minivans, its No. 2 seller. U.S. sales of all Rams have dropped 27 percent this year, compared with a 40 percent decline for the company overall.

The Ram 2500 competes against the Ford Super Duty, Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra in the heavy-duty segment.

Dodge had a 23 percent U.S. share of that 1.6-million-unit segment last year, according to Chrysler data.

Following the 1500

The new heavy-duty trucks will carry many of the same attributes as the 1500 light-duty pickup introduced a year ago. Dodge wants to set itself apart from the competition with a smoother ride, dramatically upscale interiors, upgraded towing capabilities and a choice between a Hemi gasoline engine and a Cummins Turbo Diesel that does not require onboard urea injection for cleaner emissions.

Last year, the Dodge Ram 1500 became the first pickup since the 1960s to offer coil springs on the rear axle for a smoother ride. Dodge stuck with leaf springs for the heavy-duty versions while adopting a hydraulic spring that attaches to the frame at the rear of the cab to minimize the bouncing that can contribute to a rough ride.

Dodge has also added a crew cab to its heavy-duty lineup for the first time. Crew cabs now account for 50 percent of all heavy-duty pickup sales, according to Michael Berube, director of pickup truck product planning.

Customers can choose between two powerplants: a 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel that cranks out 350 hp and 650 pounds-feet of torque or a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 gasoline engine that delivers 383 hp and 400 pounds-feet of torque.

Pricing details will be released Friday.

Said Mark Heber, head of truck marketing: “We are going very aggressive at the competition on pricing.”

By Bradford Wernle- Automotive News