Jeep and Ram could be spun off from FCA, says Marchionne

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Jeep is surely the biggest single feather left in the cap of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles portfolio. Under Sergio Marchionne’s leadership, Jeep went from fewer than 500,000 annual sales in 2008 to 1.4 million in 2016, and is on track for 2 million by 2018. Add in the brand’s legacy, status as one of the most recognizable nameplates in the world, and rabid fan base, and Jeep has extraordinary monetary value to its parent company.

Investors and analysts have certainly noticed Jeep’s inherent value. According to The Detroit Free Press, Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas asked FCA chief Sergio Marchionne if he would ever consider spinning Jeep and Ram, FCA’s dedicated truck brand, into a separate corporate entity, and he responded with a simple “Yes.”

Jonas estimated Jeep’s worth in January of this year at $22 billion. Ram was valued at $11.2 billion.

Marchionne has a history of spinning off brands while keeping them part of FCA’s corporate umbrella. The most noteworthy example of this value maximization was with Ferrari, which now trades on the New York Stock Exchange and rakes in $3.4 billion in annual revenue and close to $435 million in net income, reports the Free Press. Marchionne still serves as chairman and CEO of Ferrari, and Fiat heir John Elkann owns 22 percent of the Italian marque’s shares.

Even if the offloading of Jeep and Ram into a separate entity would amount to little more than a profit-driven ownership change on paper, it would be huge news to the brands’ loyal fanbases. In any case, such a move would likely take years to actually happen and probably wouldn’t mean much at all to the products that Jeep and Ram produce. In other words, Jeep fans can keep the pitchforks in the shed … for now.

[Source: Autoblog]

Current Ram 1500 sticking around into 2019

ram-1500.jpgRam is preparing a big redesign of its 1500 pickup truck for 2018, but for fans of the current truck, don’t feel like you need to rush out to grab one – it’s sticking around until 2019.

That’s according to Automotive News, whose sources spoke on condition of anonymity. The move allows Ram to take a two-prong approach to truck sales, offering the current model as a low-cost option for fleet users while pushing retail consumers toward the new pickup. The factories that build the 1500 today – Warren, MI, and Saltillo, Mexico – will assemble around 200,000 trucks in 2018 and 65,000 in 2019 before Ram phases out the older model. Meanwhile, FCA’s Sterling Heights, MI, plant will screw together 325,000 redesigned 1500s starting in 2018, with production to increase to over 400,000 units in 2019.

While Ram refused to comment when AN reached out, FCA CFO Richard Palmer hinted at the move during a conference call last week, saying “having more pickup capacity will allow us also to satisfy the fleet customers’ demand on pickup, which we struggle to do today because we favor retail in the U.S. and Canadian volume, which have higher margins.”

“As we realign our capacity, we’re going to be able to continue to work on improving our fleet mix,” Palmer said.

Beyond making a play for fleet buyers, continuing to build the current 1500 guarantees dealerships maintain a solid inventory as Ram ramps up production of the new truck. You can check out leaked images of the redesigned Ram here. According to Automotive News, the new truck won’t use aluminum, like the Ford F-150, relying on steel instead. FCA’s 3.6-liter V6 will provide thrust along with turbocharged options, although there’s no mention of the venerable 5.7-liter Hemi V8. Don’t read too much into that, of course – we’ll eat our shoe if the 1500 ditches the popular eight-cylinder. It’s still too early to predict when the 2019 Ram 150 will debut, but it will likely happen in 2018 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit or perhaps at a non-auto show event.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ram boss thinks midsize truck could fit in the lineup

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The execs at Ram are changing their tune about the possibility of a midsize truck in the US. Nothing is certain yet, but the chances now look a little more favorable.

“I think there’s opportunity there in the US if you look at what’s happened in the mid-size segment here – significant growth last year,” Jeep and Ram boss Mike Manley told the Detroit News. “I think that space is big enough, certainly, to have two offerings there.”

The other product that Manley alludes to is the forthcoming Jeep Wrangler-based pickup that’s due in 2017. However, there might not be much customer overlap between the Jeep and those looking for a more traditional Ram-branded model.

Manley admitted the most likely candidate for a midsize Ram would be for the company to use an existing Fiat platform, according to the News. One possibility could be rebranding the Fiat Toro pickup, but it’s rather small at 20-inches shorter than a Chevrolet Colorado.

This greater openness to a midsize Ram is a complete change from the company’s position in the past, though. Last spring, the brand’s CEO for North America said he couldn’t find a strategy to make the model work. FCA boss Sergio Marchionne made the same point in 2014, when he admitted the company showed a Ram 1000 at design clinics, but the response was “lukewarm.”

Over the past couple years, the midsize truck market has a renaissance of fresh products. The Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon are successes both critically and commercially. The latest Tacoma is on sale, and the new Honda Ridgeline is imminent. We know Nissan has a Frontier successor under development, and there are always rumors of Ford reviving the Ranger in the US. With so much development in the segment, it’s easy to see why Ram would want to be at the party.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ram 1500 mule caught sporting Mega Cab configuration

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Our intrepid spy photographers have once again captured an unusual test mule out in the wild. This time we have a Ram 1500 that looks a little lengthy in the middle.

We’re pretty certain this is a 1500 and not a heavy duty model judging from the grille and hood. That said, FCA clearly went to great lengths to hide the cab. It’s still clear that the rear section is longer than your typical quad cab, leading us to believe that the Mega Cab option will return to the 1500 line.

Other interesting details are the covered tailgate and the Chrysler steering wheel in the interior. We’re not entirely sure why it’s covered up, as it doesn’t appear to have a different function, but there could be some styling tweaks for a new trim level. The one part we can see is the tailgate handle, which may reveal some updated camera abilities as the normal location shows a differently shaped camera lens. There are also two small spots that could be cameras, but it’s tough to say for sure. Will we see 360-degree imaging on the next Ram?

The steering wheel is an unusual inclusion as well. Our photographer suggests that it could be necessary for using the latest UConnect infotainment system. Other than the wheel though, the interior looks identical to the current model.

This updated cab option also leaves us wondering about the future of the Ram line. We have documentation that shows FCA plans to launch some type of refreshed Ram for the 2018 model year. So it’s possible we’re looking at an early test mule for that updated model, and the new cab option could be launched at the same time. In many ways, this Ram brings up more questions than answers.

[Source: autoblog]

US Postal Service going Ram ProMaster

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Selling cars, vans, and trucks one at a time is business good enough to keep most automakers solvent, but fleet sales are where it’s really at. Take this latest order placed by the United States Postal Service from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, for example.

The order calls for a massive fleet of 9,113 units of the 2016 Ram ProMaster 2500 cargo van. That number may only be a drop in the bucket compared to the 190,000 vehicles the Postal Service operates across the country, but it’s still a pretty large order to place all at once.

“While each and every one of our fleet customers is important to us, none command our attention like USPS,” said FCA’sfleet operations director Tim Kuniskis. “I can’t think of another more mission-critical service than literally delivering the goods of our nation on a daily basis, and we are honored that USPS chose the Ram ProMaster to help them meet their challenging duty.”

Naturally, each of the 9,113 Ram vans will be specially equipped for the purpose of collecting and delivering the mail and packages. They’ll also be fitted with 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engines driving 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque through six-speed automatic transmissions to the front wheels. It’s the latter feature which the post office may find the most compelling, helping the vans get traction regardless of the weather. You know, given the whole “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” thing that the service seeks to uphold.

Mopar makes the Ram Rebel even more macho for 2016

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Mopar is making the 2016 Ram 1500 Rebel a little more badass and charging a lot more money. This is the Mopar ’16 Rebel. Customers that snag one of the 500 special-edition Rebels get some nifty visual upgrades from the Mopar catalog. The truck’s plastic flares are bigger, and the “performance” aluminum hood comes with a big, matte-black decal. It’s a macho truck.

These special-edition Ram Rebels only come in two colors – Flame Red and Brilliant Black – and we’re not really sure if the Mopar’s traditional blue highlights work well on the red version. The dark hue ought to look the business, though. Either shade goes well with the standard 17-inch black wheels and black skid plate on the front bumper – the normal Rebel’s skid plate is silver.

Those are just the standard Mopar accessories on this special edition. The aftermarket division will happily sell Rebel drivers more performance-oriented mods, including a cold-air intake or cat-back exhaust for the Rebel’s standard 5.7-liter Hemi V8.

Even if you choose to pass on those upgrades, you’re still paying at least $52,460 for the Mopar ’16 Rebel. The basis for this truck, the 1500 Rebel 4×4, starts at $46,395, or $6,065 less than the Mopar special edition. While the body changes are cool, there’s not enough here to warrant that kind of premium. The Mopar 16′ Rebel will arrive in dealers later this summer.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ram takes out frustrations on Camry

No, not a Ram pickup truck. This is an actual ram, as in a male sheep, headbutting the hell out of a Toyota Camry that made the unfortunate decision to interrupt its battle with a rival member of the flock.
Now, before you say, “How dare that Camry harm that cuddly sheep,” we’d like to point out just how viciously the two males were fighting before the Toyota butted in. And after smashing the driver’s side front fascia, the ram goes right back to attempting to beat down its opponent. All things considered then, we’d call this Ram: 1, Camry: 0.

See the video at Autoblog.