Is there a opportunity that a leadership change at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported by Automotive News could lead to an frequently-speculated new pickup truck?
Jeep’s longtime director Jim Morrison is leaving that post to head the Ram pickup and industrial vehicle division, replacing Bob Hegbloom, who is leaving for the global shores of Ram International.
Ram and Jeep are by far FCA’s most significant moneymakers these days, and beneath Morrison’s watch the Jeep brand took on new prominence by expanding its variety of models, even if it meant adopting architecture sourced from (sacrilege!) Fiat.
The news of Morrison’s switch to Ram raises the question, “Is this the person who will take the Ram brand in a smaller direction?”
A smaller sized Ram pickup is an idea that is been tossed about because the midsize Dodge Dakota was axed back in 2011. From a high point in the early 2000s, Dakota sales had fallen severely, considerably like the nation’s economy and Chrysler’s fortunes.
At the time, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne — then head of Chrysler Group — speculated that developing an additional small or midsize pickup was unlikely since the American public just wasn’t acquiring them like they utilized to. When asked the exact same question last year, Hegbloom mentioned he was able to come close to matching what made those little trucks from the 1980s and ’90s popular — size, capacity and price — but couldn’t get the fuel economy appropriate.
In Hegbloom’s thoughts, a smaller sized Ram would have to attain 35 miles per gallon on the highway to differentiate itself from its larger brothers.
With Morrison at the helm, the outlook could be various. This is the man who oversaw the green-lighting of the Jeep Wrangler pickup that so several lusted for, and the return of the Cherokee name in USCW form.
In the marketplace, the midsize Colorado/Canyon twins from General Motors, combined, sold over one hundred,000 units final year. Rumors continue that Ford will move Ranger production stateside sometime following 2018. And for some reason, Honda has decided to offer a second-generation Ridgeline.
The market’s not dead for smaller sized trucks, but it isn’t what it used to be. FCA, with its current debt problems, certainly wouldn’t gamble on a wholly new platform for a smaller Ram, nor would it source a platform from, say, Jeep, just to have a player in the little truck game. Production fees and lack of existing capacity forbids it.
Beyond that long, relatively unprotected border to the south lies a glimmer of hope for the Child Ram crowd.
FCA Mexico will soon begin production on the new Fiat Fullback pickup, a physique-on-frame model bound for overseas markets that is constructed on a platform sourced from the Mitsubishi L200 (FCA distributes Mitsubishi goods in Mexico).
The Fullback also comes with a two.four-litre diesel engine designed for the European market that tends to make 178 horsepower and returns 41 miles mpg on the highway and 35.six mpg combined (in the current L200).
FCA has stated the Wrangler pickup will come with a diesel and hybrid selection, either of which (even if it is not the Fiat/Mitsubishi diesel) would likely satisfy Hegbloom’s mileage complaint.
Meanwhile, production of higher-volume American-marketplace FCA models are moving back to the U.S., even though slower-selling models are being punted to Mexico. If a smaller Ram is going to take place, this is the most most likely location for it, given the monetary rewards to generating the automobile in Mexico. It also assists to use an current platform from an automaker FCA is already working with.
That is assuming a Ram-bodied Fullback can even meet U.S. safety regulations, but stranger factors have happened. They created the Prowler, dammit!