By on August 25, 2014

TTAC-2014_Ram-EcoDiesel-front (1)

Though Ford and General Motors may be exchanging their iron fists for aluminum gloves in this upcoming battle atop Truck Mountain, Ram plans to remain beholden to the steel until 2020.

Reuters reports two sources close to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ plans for Ram’s truck offerings proclaim that while significant changes will come to the trucks in 2017, the switch to aluminum is not among them. Maintaining the status quo would prevent alienation among its commercial consumer base, as well as keep production costs low from not having to convert steel parts to aluminum.

The plan echos what FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne told investors in May, stating the use of the metal would be “better suited in other vehicles than pickup trucks.” Instead, Ram will focus on more fuel-efficient engine-transmission setups, stop-start technology, and other methods of meeting 2018 U.S. emissions and fuel economy standards.

As for what happens after FCA’s current five-year plan comes to a close in 2020, the automaker isn’t saying much on the subject of an aluminum Ram beyond that no decisions have been made thus far, according to representative Rick Deneau.

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52 Comments on “Ram Trucks Remaining True To Steel Until 2020...”


  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    Good for Sergio.

    Ford, and latecomer-GM, falling all over themselves in the rush to aluminum seems like typical, knee-jerk Detroit planning. Using lots of aluminum to support 300+ HP unloaded trucks? My-my, how did we ever get things done with less HP in years past?

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      People on this forum cry when a sedan has less than 200 hp. Some even state less than 707 hp is barely able to go down the street to buy donuts…

      Semi-tractors that tow 40 ton trailers for a living only have ~350 hp (at least a few years ago). But people here think a 1/2 ton truck with smaller than 300 hp engine won’t have enough longevity.

      • 0 avatar
        Ridgerunner

        Talking horsepower regarding tractor trailers rigs is not what is important – it is the torque that counts to get the load moving. The Mack MP10 16 liter engine only has 605 horsepower, but 2,060 lb-ft. at 1,200 rpms in top spec.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @Detroit-X – It may have less to do with power-to-weight than rust prevention, fuel savings and smaller engines. And some added payload/towing capacity thrown in.

      And also less of a knee-jerk reaction. It could’ve been decades in the planning, with GM considering it first.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Detroit-X – GM was reported to have started looking at aluminum trucks a year before Ford but the Great Recession and bankruptcy postponed the plan. I’ve always thought that the current GM siblings were meant to be mid-cycle refreshes ass opposed to “all new” trucks.

      FCA does not have a good CAFE average. They may have no choice but bring the Strada to our shores just to game CAFE.

    • 0 avatar
      gregaryous

      It’s not a “rush” to aluminum as Ford has been working on aluminum and Validating it since 2008 for 6-years and it will take GM 4-5 years to convert.., hardly a Rush…!

      Credit Fords CEO Alan Mulally’s experience with using aluminum on airplanes for decades as the motivation to make this Game Changer reality..,!!!

      Ram is stuck.., they can’t lower wt much and they already use Diesel n 8-speed trans… So what else can they easily afford to do to get higher MPG…???

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        If Ford’s and GM’s forays into alu pickups prove fruitful, Ram can just follow their lead….. It’s always cheaper and less risky to let someone else lead the way. And, in the conservative (in more than one way….) pickup market, by the time buyers are convinced in the merits of alu, Ram can still be ready to serve them, even if they wait a few years while their bigger rivals work out the most obvious kinks.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Wait, GM is a late comer and will beat Ram by more than two years to aluminum, Toyota is steel, and the oh ya Nissan makes fullsize trucks I forgot about the Titan is steel – but GM is the late comer? GM had aluminum panels on the GMT900 back when they were building the aborted hybrid versions, but they are the late comer?!?

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    This move by Fiat/Ram is a well considered move that actually might give them an advantage over the upcoming aluminium Ford and GM 1/2 ton pickups.

    The reality is a high tensile steel vehicle can be constructed that can have up to a 35% weight reduction over previous construction techniques.

    Aluminium on the other hand will give you up to a 40% weight reduction over previous construction techniques.

    How much lighter will the F series 1/2 ton have over a steel Ram? The Ford starts out heavier. The weight saving by Ford might not be as great as Ford claims either. Remember they where having issue forming the aluminium panels.

    I see it this way, Ford and GM will have to increase the costs of their aluminium pickups, or not have such large discounts in the future.

    Here’s a question; Why is it that GM requires an aluminium full size 1/2 ton? The Colorado/Canyon will be high tensile steel. CAFE regulations are harsher on midsizers. It doesn’t add up.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      Agree. Let us all count the times were “it doesn’t add up” was said about such things….

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “Here’s a question; Why is it that GM requires an aluminium full size 1/2 ton? The Colorado/Canyon will be high tensile steel. CAFE regulations are harsher on midsizers. It doesn’t add up.”

      Cost.

      You can amortize the cost of engineering and manufacturing an aluminum truck when you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of units.

      The Colorado/Canyon might not break 100K/year; the cost of a new and expensive architecture might not be amortizable, whereas the Silverado/Sierra/Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon/Escalade sells nearly a million per year.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        GM doesn’t “require” aluminum on anything. It is a business decision (or business guess). $XXX Million wasted–is wasted–no matter what it’s amortized on. Amortizing it on more units just makes hiding the poor decision better.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @BAFO – They both may have pickup beds, but the profitability of midsize trucks is on a different side of the planet, than fullsize trucks. We many get an all-aluminum Sonic or Spark, long before an aluminum Colorado/Canyon.

      But the CAFE thing is over played here. There’s some overlap in ‘footprints’ too. Fullsize trucks may need only 25 mpg hwy (EPA sticker), by 2025, but midsize trucks may need only 28 mpg hwy by then. Not hard to do. Not too much to ask. Ram trucks are already there.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Smells like MCA spirit…

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    Hey, NB plates on the pictured Ram. Not surprising since they seem to be everywhere around here. Shout out to my fellow New Brunswickers, even if you drive a Ram… :)

  • avatar
    Hummer

    It would be awesome to see Ram upset the market and keep its trucks priced low while the others keep increasing costs and thereby truck prices.

    Ram truly does seem the most American of the 3.
    GM just wants to play the me too game.
    And Ford might as well consider itself a European automaker, being we only have one and a half American focused vehicles from them now.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Hummer – Ram has to try to be the most “American’ because truck buyers tend to be conservative. They already have to walk a fine line of being a foreign owned company. That fact alone does not play well in some circles. Even GM’s bailout and the moniker Government Motors does not play well in those same conservative circles.

      Ford took a chance with V6 TTDI truck engines and have shown that buyers care more about power than number of cylinders.
      Would Ram of gotten off so easy if they did the same?
      I doubt it.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      You say all that as if there’s something wrong with being a global company.

      EDIT: (Unless you’re not, in which case, I apologize for being a jerk.)

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Drzhivago138 – nothing wrong with being a global company but truck guys tend to be conservative. “Buy America” types will have to chose Ford or GM if they practice what they preach. There are those that won’t buy a GM due to the “Government Motors” stigma.

        Ram has really tried to play up the “American” aspect of their trucks. Just look at their Sam Elliott “Guts Glory Ram” commercials, their superbowl “Paul Harvey” farmer advertising etc. They are really pushing the “All American” theme.

        Ram doesn’t want to be seen in the same light as the Tundra. Go frequent truck blogs and “Pearl Harbour” comes up at an alarming rate just like “profits leaving the country” comments.

        You weren’t a jerk. (Pch is my benchmark in that regard)

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Sorry, that was actually in reply to Hummer. That’s one of the downsides of TTAC’s comment section–the way comments are nested makes it really hard to figure out who’s saying what to who. But your input was equally valued.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Agreed Hummer. If this really did give Ram a price advantage, it could help them to continue to grow market share. Any significant issue that crops up with aluminum, such as higher insurance premiums due to higher repair costs or some other unforeseen problem, could also send buyers their way.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      > Ram truly does seem the most American of the 3

      I think you misspelt “Italian”.

      Not sure where you are located, but here in the dark heart of Jesusland, never been a better time for Ford dealers. Dodge, rough enough when they were Mercedes, but no one wants to spend $40k on a new truck and hear Fiat jokes. And even the serious GM fans have given up on “Obama Government Motors” and there’s a new F250 XLT Super Lariat Harley Marlboro Edition in the driveway where the Silverado used to sit.

  • avatar
    gregaryous

    RAM is in the late stages of there 2017 truck upgrade and they do not have time money or aluminum supply to convert their trucks to aluminum…

    Ford has bought up All the auto sheet aluminum for the next 4 years for F-Series truck conversion to aluminum… That’s one reason GM can’t get aluminum until 2018 and makes it harder for Ram to get aluminum until 2020.., there just isn’t enough supply…!

    Plus Ford has over 100 patents on new aluminum mfg processes that will make it more difficult for GM n Ram to need to reverse engineer and invent new techniques that will cost more money and time delays…!

    So Ford has at least 4-5 year advantage with F-Series trucks and big SUVs going to aluminum and getting 10-15% better MPGs that could be 3-4 mpg higher vs competition… A significant advantage!!

    Best days for Ram are about over…!!!

    Also when Ford adds their small diesel to F150 it will easily produce 32+ MPG and leave Ram EcoDiesel way behind…!! This includes new 10- speed auto coming in 2016 for F-Series trucks and big SUVs…!

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      How much does Ford pay you?

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      You act as though that RAM won’t be doing anything to counter when the F-150 hits the market….eventually. When the Ford hits the market the RAM will be coming out with a refreshed/new product not long after. Just because Ford will drop the new F-150 it doesn’t mean game over.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Would TTAC sponsor a steel cage match among Gregaryous, BillfromBuckhead and Silvy_Z71?

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Ram should stick with steel body.
      Switch Hemi over to full aluminum (saving 100 lbs) and look at aluminum suspension components.

      If they want to be real serious design a smaller pushrod V-8 (designed to max out at 4.0 liters). This would reduce engine weight from high 500s to high 300’s. This with smart use of aluminum in the suspension would allow 50% of Ford weight loss at 1/4 the engineering cost and 1/3 of the manufacturing cost. Why anyone would want an overhead cam V-type engine (especially in a truck) is beyond me. With tuning for fuel economy engines will become more square and less high reving.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Gregaryous may be onto something.

    If Ford has bought all the aluminum and has patents, it will be hard for GM to get going on aluminum.

    Still, I think aluminum is a very expensive way to take out weight in a truck.

    Perhaps Ford has astutely calculated that the average F-150 buyer lives in the suburbs, and carries large items that don’t weigh much. so the aluminum bodies and/or frames won’t be stressed.

    Are Ford’s HD trucks aluminum?

    Perhaps GM has astutely calculated that the outcry over these ridiculous fuel standards, and the drop in auto sales it could precipitate as people hold onto their old vehicles longer, will cause the Feds to ease the rules.

    Or perhaps, the market price of gasoline will go to $6, $7, or even $10 per gallon (due to world events, or the need for the govt to raise revenue–$9 is common in Europe), overtaking the silly rules, at which time only businesses that really need trucks will buy them, and sales of all pickups will suffer.

    Should make for good commentary and interesting watching:)

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @tomLU86 – the frames are still steel. Why would heavy loads stress the aluminum any more or less than steel?
      Those trucks are made out of aluminum alloys. An alloy is a blend of metals. Aluminum can be as soft or hard as you care to make it.

      Big Al pointed out that there is only a 5% difference in weight between “high strength” steel and aluminum alloy. The word ‘aluminum” may play better on the psyche of buyers and greenie’s. There is a reason why the word “eco” has shown up on ford’s ‘eco’boost line, Ram’s ‘eco’diesel, and GM’s ‘eco’tec engines.
      There is a psychological aspect to using aluminum.
      Those in the rust belt are thinking; “aluminum doesn’t rust”.
      Aluminum in trucks – “so high tech”….so light weight…. Ford cares about the environment….

      There is more to this than just saving 5% weight over steel.

      PR hacks will have a field day with this.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        High strength steel has virtually the same Young’s modulus as regular steel.

        So it’s no stiffer.

        Making a vehicle purely out of HSS based on its higher ultimate tensile stress capability alone would give you a pretty unrigid body if you just decided to cut 35% of its structure away.

        Maybe that’s Australian engineering.- more like some whacko idea BAFO dreamed up, like all his other brilliant insights.

        If his idea was correct, you’d be flying around in an HSS airliner. No? I wonder why not.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @wombat, the Canuk
          You can attempt to troll me, but as a simple ex CAW person, you will find it awkward.

          First, learn what you are discussing so we could have a decent and hopefully fruitful conversation were I can expand your knowledge in all aspect of engineering.

          To aid you in expanding your knowledge read the links below.

          Also, look at the mainplane of an aircraft. It is the main structure of the airframe, not the fuselage. Steel/stainless/titanium is often used in high strength areas at the centre barrel areas where the mainplane intersects the fuselage.

          http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf/story2/49E3C15FB7C4979CCA257921000657B6

          Read this one, a bit long for the layman like yourself;

          http://sperle.se/referenser/pdf/artiklar/V4_ISATA.pdf

          Here’s a little something to educate the meek in the melon types;

          The FutureSteelVehicle (FSV) features steel body structure designs that reduce mass by more than 35 percent over a benchmark vehicle and reduce total life cycle emissions by nearly 70 percent. – See more at: http://www.worldautosteel.org/projects/future-steel-vehicle/phase-2-results/#sthash.zPYVs1dc.dpuf

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    @TomLU86 – Ford HDs will be aluminum too, from what I understand. No reason not to.

    But you don’t want $9 gasoline. That would be catastrophic in the US. For pedestrians and cyclists alike. Unlike Europe, we were built around the promise of cheap fuel.

    And aluminum trucks may entice buyers formerly on the fence. Not just with mpg never thought of with trucks (combined with other tech), but rust prevention too. 10 to 15 years down the road, steel pickups already enjoy about 2X the resale value of most cars, SUVs, etc.

    When autos are a total rusted loss, does insurance pay up? That alone should make a person seek out aluminum vehicles. And if my aluminum truck lasts forever, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t trade it in at the 10 year mark.

    So would you rather buy a 12 year old car or CUV already starting to rust? Or has that potential? Or an aluminum truck of the same vintage? Which would you pay more for?

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    Meanwhile, a 20 year old Toyota truck is getting 27mpg all day. You can even put things in the bed, and take them from place to place. You can’t do it at 75mph up to the Eisenhower tunnel, but you can do some things.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      And that’s not what the majority of trucks–at least, 1/2-ton full-size trucks–are bought to do. They’re made for pulling boats and small trailers and carrying 5 people in vast comfort at 75 MPH up to the Eisenhower tunnel.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      My ’93 Toyota PU truck on its best day couldn’t break 20 MPG no matter how you drove it. So I’m not sure what your talking about. Mine was a 4WD extra cab with the 3.0 V6 and 5 speed stick. Towing mileage was 11-13 MPG, depending if I had my boat behind it or a two place snowmobile trailer. A guy at work had a ’94, identical to mine with a 4 banger which actually got worse fuel economy because the smaller motor was working so hard all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Meanwhile in the Midwest and other Rustbelt states; a fore-lone 20 YO Tacoma sits abandoned in a farmers field. The bed looks like an escapee from a leper colony and at least one frame rail yearns to be whole again. Then again, if you’re gonna weld the frame rails back together you might as well fix the floor boards too, as long as you have your welder out.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        I’ve only seen one pre-Tacoma pickup here in SW MN that was actually drivable, and it was in a similar condition to what you described. Internet MPGs and anecdotes mean nothing if the vehicle is undrivable after 15 years.

  • avatar
    gregaryous

    Bottomline:
    RAM can’t get enough aluminum auto sheet until 2020 when new supply by Novelus and Alcoa comes on line!!

    So they Must defend there position to stay with steel because they are too late n last to convert to aluminum!!!

    All they can do is crank up the PR n pretend they are smart… like.., “Fix It Again Tony”…!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Those Canadians take such nice scenic car photos!

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