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]

Discerning Ram owners can now match their truck to their RV

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Are you frustrated that the two-tone paint on your new pickup truck doesn’t match the RV that it’s hauling? We have good news for you. Today, at the Dallas Auto Show, Ram unveiled a new color for the 2017 Laramie Longhorn: the imaginatively named RV Match Brown. In Ram’s words, the “Luxurious two-tone premium model displays distinctive design cues” and is “designed to match or complement RV trailer graphics.”

The new color replaces White Gold in the two-tone lineup and is only available on the Laramie Longhorn trim. In addition to running the bottom length of the truck, the RC Match Brown paint covers the side steps and the spokes on the 20-inch aluminum wheels. All 1500 Laramie Longhorns come with 20-inch wheels, while the 2500 and single-wheel 3500 models come with 18s as standard and offer optional 20s. The color wasn’t designed to replicate one specific color, just that general shade of brown that seems to be ubiquitous in the RV industry. The RV Match Brown is available with nine exterior colors.

The Laramie Longhorn is the second highest trim level of the Ram 1500, slotting just below the Ram Limited. Features include items like laser-etched leather with complimenting walnut burl inserts. It’s no Rolls Royce, but it’s hard to find a more decked-out truck on the market.

[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 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]

FCA spends $1.5 billion to retool plant for Ram production

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is planning to invest $1.48 billion to retool its Sterling Heights Assembly plant in metro Detroit to build the next generation of the Ram 1500. The investment will allow the assembly plant to go from unibody to body-on-frame construction. FCA also confirmed that production of the Chrysler 200 will end in December in order for the plant to be altered.

As previously reported, FCA is looking to move production of the 1500 from its current assembly plant in Warren to the Sterling Heights Assembly plant (both are in Michigan). While FCA has not released any official plans for the Warren Truck Assembly Plant, Automotive News reports that the plant will be retooled to manufacture the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs.

Earlier this month, FCA announced plans to invest $1.05 billion to retool the Jeep Wrangler factory. FCA’s current investment plans are part of the automaker’s push to put competitive products on the road.

[Source: Autoblog]

2016 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty in Portland now offers 900 lb-ft of torque

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After last year’s bump to a massive 865 lb-ft of torque for its 2015 3500 Heavy Duty pickup, Ram certainly isn’t taking a rest. The model already offers the best towing capacity and most torque in its class, but both figures are growing even higher for the 2016 model year. Now, customers that really need some grunt can order the Cummins 6.7-liter inline-six diesel in the 3500 with a staggering 900 pound-feet of torque and 385 horsepower.

Ram claims that this huge figure is the most torque ever available in a mass production vehicle, and it tops the 2015 model by a healthy 35 lb-ft. The added grunt comes thanks to adjustments to the fuel delivery and the turbo’s boost, and to better handle things, the rear axle gear now is held with 16 bolts, rather than 12. The tweaks also push the tow rating to an SAE J2807-certified 31,210 pounds, which is absolutely monumental.

While not available with the 900 lb-ft version of the Cummins, the Ram 2500 also sees a tiny boost in its max tow rating. The trucks are now capable of hauling up to 17,980 lbs, versus 17,970 lbs last year.

The 2016 Ram Heavy Duty trucks go into production in the third quarter and should start arriving at dealers during the fourth quarter of 2015. Prices for the 3500 start at $33,185 and $32,680 for the 2500, after the $1,195 destination charged, respectively. The company hasn’t yet announced the cost for the 3500 with the 900 lb-ft Cummins diesel.

[Source: Autoblog]

 

2016 Ram Laramie Limited is a comfy way to haul stuff in Portland

Watch this video. Some people want a rugged truck with no frills that can get seriously banged up and muddy. If that’s the case for you, you’re definitely going to want to avoid the 2016 Ram Laramie Limited debuting as the latest flagship trim on the 1500, 2500 and 3500 models at the Chicago Auto Show. This pickup is for the buyer who still wants to haul stuff around but get the work done while sitting in the lap of luxury.

Bystanders as far as the next county are going to have zero problems knowing the oncoming or outgoing driver has the top-level Ram. In a somewhat similar style to the updated look from the Ram Rebel, the word “RAM” appears in billboard-sized chrome letters across the center of the grille of the Laramie Limited. In case folks somehow miss it, the air inlets on either side are practically arrows pointing right to the middle. The rear gets the same motif with an emblem measuring some 20-inches wide. If all of that isn’t enough to grab attention, there’s also tons of eye-grabbing chrome from end to end. This is not a vehicle meant to blend in.

Inside, passengers are cosseted in acres of black Natura Plus leather with Graystone piping and Black Argento wood trim. For a bit of contrast from all the darkness, there are also metallic accents in a color called Liquid Graphite. LED lighting sheds soft illumination throughout the cabin.

[Source: Autoblog]