Fiat Chrysler’s Ram looks to expand commercial truck sales – USA TODAY
With its consumer Ram pickup-truck production mostly maxxed out, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is looking to expand it commercial van sales.
“We have demand that exceeds what we can build today,” says Bob Hegbloom, CEO of the Ram brand. “On one hand, that’s a nice position to be in. But on the other hand, there’s opportunity out there” that the Ram brand must pass up.”
The company builds its heavy-duty pickups as well as the bare-bones Ram 1500 models aimed at construction tradesmen and other business buyers at its plant in Saltillo, Mexico.
That plant produced about 240,000 pickups last year and has the ability to produce about 280,000 pickups, according to IHS Automotive. FCA also makes its ProMaster full-size van in Saltillo and imports the ProMaster City commercial van from Bursa, Turkey.
Introduced in 2013, the ProMaster van has leaped from nonexistent to third place among large commercial vans sold in the U.S. The ProMaster competes against the Ford Transit, Chevrolet Express, Nissan NV and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
In 2015, FCA sold 28,345 ProMaster and 11,124 ProMaster City vans in the U.S.
Last fall, Ram landed a contract to supply the U.S. Postal Service with more than 9,000 Ram ProMaster cargo vans, a high-profile contract that raises brand awareness.
Ram has been at the forefront of the move to trucks.
Industry sales of pickups have exploded over the past five years as housing has recovered and as some lifestyle buyers have returned to the market following a recession that devastated pickup sales.
But Ram has snagged a larger share of the industry’s truck market than expected. Ram’s share of full-size pickup sales in the U.S. has jumped to 20.6% in 2015 from 14.8% in 2010.
To be sure, the Ram 1500 is still America’s third favorite pickup. Ford’s F-150 lineup is still, by far, the market leader. Last year, the F-150 held a 35.7% share of full-size pickup sales and the Chevrolet Silverado was in second place with 27.5%.
Still, Ram’s growth has been eye-popping. Sales of the brand’s full-size truck have more than doubled to more than 451,000 in 2015 from about 200,000 in 2010.
FCA accomplished its sales and market share growth by developing a wider range of models that it sells for higher prices than ever before. New models such as the off-road-ready Ram Rebel and the luxurious Ram Limited have been hits.