By on September 27, 2016

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited

The soon-to-be-dead Chrysler 200’s legendary unpopularity saw many Fiat Chrysler Automobiles workers laid off, but a next-generation pickup is bringing them all back — and then some.

The automaker has received a handout from the Michigan Strategic Fund, allowing it to add an extra 700 autoworkers at its Sterling Heights assembly plant to work on a Very Important Product.

That product, of course, is the 2019 Ram 1500, which FCA has on the tightest of schedules. Ram, and FCA as a whole, needs the next-generation pickup to hold its own against GM and an ultra-competitive Ford. Next to Jeep, Ram is FCA’s biggest breadwinner.

According to Crain’s Detroit Business, the fund handed FCA a $4.6 million grant today, specifically aimed at hiring more workers. Once FCA unceremoniously ushers the 200 into its grave this December, the automaker plans to move Ram 1500 production over from its Warren assembly plant. Retooling Sterling Heights comes with a $1.5 billion price tag.

Earlier this year, 1,300 workers got the boot when FCA cut a production shift (all thanks to the tanking 200). To build the Ram, FCA plans to recall those workers from layoff, while adding another 700. Before the new hires, Sterling Heights should have a base employment of 4,600 workers.

FCA is so worried about delays that it recently granted some Ram engineers the authority to make their own decisions, all in the interest of speeding up development. Production is scheduled to begin on January 28, 2018 — the same month as the model’s first prototype.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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46 Comments on “Next-Generation Ram 1500’s Tight Timeline Gets a Helping Hand...”


  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Sergio had better pray that gas does not spike up again, otherwise once again they’re not ready with any small or medium size car worth spit. and please don’t bring up the Fiat 500

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      It’s okay, the Fiat 500 will save them when gas hits $3 to $4 per gallon again.

      My question is, who will have the first useful hybrid pickup to market?

      • 0 avatar
        Corollaman

        Are you being funny right now?

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Ford will beat everyone to the Hybrid pickup party, it is expected by 2020 MY, maybe sooner if gas prices have another dramatic increase.

        • 0 avatar
          formula m

          GM is selling 500 hybrid trucks in California this year.

          “GM’s next-generation mild-hybrid electric propulsion system will be available on 500 of the automaker’s 1LT trim-level 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab 2-wheel-drive pickups this year. The system also will be offered on 200 GMC Sierra SLT Premium large pickups.”

          http://www.jdpower.com/cars/articles/car-news/gm-introduces-next-gen-mild-hybrid-silverado-sierra-trucks-california-market

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Interesting but it is another one of GM’s eAssist vehicles that are Hybrid more in name than function with a measly 13% improvement in city MPG vs the ~40% improvement that a “full Hybrid” provides. Their previous 2-Mode had city MPG that matched hwy MPG. At a $500 premium it could be worth it if they actually planned to sell it as more than a novelty/compliance car.

        • 0 avatar

          Ford will beat everyone to the Hybrid pickup party, it is expected by 2020 MY, maybe sooner if gas prices have another dramatic increase.

          Umm GM had them years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Did you miss the useful part?

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            That was a micro hybrid, not a parallel hybrid.

          • 0 avatar

            Man you guys are picky. But really GM sold the first hybrid pickup no one else can really claim that. It may not have been great but it was a thing. http://www.greencarreports.com/review/1019598_chevrolet-silverado-and-gmc-sierra-2-mode-hybrid-pickup-review

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Yes they were the first Hybrid pickup, no doubt about that.

            @drz, I don’t know what you mean about it being a micro hybrid, never heard such a term before. It was a full blown hybrid that had a significant improvement in city MPG ratings, unlike the BAS mild hybrids that gave a minuscule increase in city MPG.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            The GMT900 hybrid was very much a true hybrid, no debating that. I was talking about the GMT800 hybrid–the one that came out first. That just had heavier batteries to power the start-stop system (aka a “micro hybrid”), not an electric motor that actually powered the vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Ford is said to be working on an F-150 Hybrid, I’m guessing based on a V-6 engine. There will also be a V-6 TurboDiesel to challenge Ram’s EcoDiesel.

        Since other Ford Hybrid vehicles were more developed and useful than any GM Hybrid system (like the “mild hybrid” Malibu etc, not the Volt because that is an extended-range electric more than a Hybrid in the sense of the Camry/Prius/etc and Fusion/C-Max/Escape Hybrids), I expect the same for the Hybrid truck compared to GM’s short-lived Hybrid full size truck/SUVs.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          Ford has been working on an F150 hybrid for a number of years now. It’ll be ready to go relatively soon.

        • 0 avatar
          formula m

          To call Ford’s hybrid efforts “more developed and useful” is a bit of a stretch. GM and Ford have not built a similar systems yet. Read the article on here today about the person with the Ford Fusion Energy and her ownership experience

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Get serious the problem that person is having with her Fusion Hybrid has everything to do with her use case and would happen in any ICE powered car operated in similar conditions.

            GM did build a hybrid pickup but limited its availability severely as well as priced it out of reach of the type of consumers that would buy it.

            Ford is a leader in Hybrid tech and as type there are almost certainly a number of prototypes being put through their paces.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        I’m fairly surprised that nobody has slipped in a hybrid truck simply to claim “1000lb-ft” of torque. Nevermind that the electric motor has a redline of 1k-rpm (and only produces said torque between 500-1000rpm), it still hits the 1k mark.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Actually an electric motor only makes its peak torque at 0 RPM and it falls from there. The standard on hybrids is to state the combined HP and torque figures where the total is at the maximum. So you’ll see that the ratings for the engine and motor added together exceed the stated combined figures.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Most pickup sales happen regardless of fuel prices. And I do cringe at $120 a tank, but it is what it is. A little less hookers and coke.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        There certainly was a drop in used truck prices during the previous spikes in gas prices and economic downturns. I picked up a 2 year old F150 during the post Katrina gas price spike for about 50% off of the original MSRP.

        I’ve still got that truck, lots of life was left in it.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Mike is right, companies still need work trucks to be able to function. Less Laramie models, more black grille and steel wheels.

        At least FCA can count on some fleet sales, unlike Toyota. They have the oldest truck now, seriously behind its class, and mostly counts on bros and urban cowboys as customers who are buying on (perceived) image more than even occasional need. They’ll defect to the smaller Tacoma if fuel prices skyrocketed, or a Rav4 Hybrid.

        If you run a power company or a construction company (random examples), you can’t downgrade (much, like maybe 1 ton to a 3/4) and still get the job done. You still gotta drop pretty big bucks for a good work truck. A Tradesman may not be as profitable as a Long Horn or whatever, but its more profitable than a truck that sits unsold.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Actually I’d expect the loss to be centered on the mid range models. As you stated the fleets will keep buying the trucks they need to get the job done. The people who are spending $50-$70K on their full bling pickup will figure out a way to pay for fuel. It is the middle of the road consumer that will look to go back to something other than a pickup that they don’t use for much more than commuting.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            I agree there.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            If a CUV will work for you, in place of a fullsize pickup, you’re one of BAFO’s imaginary majority of fullsize pickup buyers.

            Even if your fuel bill triples, it’s of no big consequence when you’re somewhat successful at what you use a fullsize pickup for. An extra $30 when your total loss/write-off is $1,000+ a day??

            What’s your net income/salary and why were you looking at a new fullsize pickup anyway?
            I don’t know, but a midsize pickup hardly seems like a solution either. Similar fuel economy, similar cash outlay and more trips to accomplish the same.

        • 0 avatar
          2drsedanman

          [Toyota] “counts on bros and urban cowboys as customers who are buying on (perceived) image more than even occasional need.”

          I seriously doubt Toyota is the only manufacturer with this type of customer.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I have to do a double-take when I do see a Tundra or Titan pulling more than jet skis or thrashed from a hard working life.

          • 0 avatar
            formula m

            I see much more tundras being used as work/tow vehicles now that the 07’+ are easy to find on the used market

          • 0 avatar

            In laws pull a 8,500 lbs 5th wheel with a Tundra. They say it works fine I haven’t tried it yet but did pull their 5,000 lbs travel trailer they had before with it and it worked great.

            I’am seeing more and more sole proprietor types (plumber electrician and carpenters) with Tundras then before so they do seem to be doing a little better there. Not enough to really effect their sales mind you.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      Wrong – the Renegade, Cherokee, Compass, 500L, 500X – all get better or same fuel mileage as the Dart/200. Pretty sure even the V6 LX trio get 31 MPG highway too, even the Ram. Not even mentioning the EcoDiesel.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      “OPEC Under Pressure to Act in Algiers as Surplus Triples”
      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-22/opec-under-pressure-to-act-in-algiers-as-oil-surplus-triples

      “Two Years Into Oil Slump, U.S. Shale Firms Are Ready to Pump More”
      http://www.wsj.com/articles/two-years-into-oil-slump-u-s-shale-firms-are-ready-to-pump-more-1474968601

      Glut. The settled science of peak oil was wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Everyone better pray there’s not a sharp economic downturn. Fuel prices can be high and pickup sales can still soar as shown earlier this decade. Buyers will pay to fuel them if they can afford it.

    • 0 avatar
      SD 328I

      Even if gas prices spike (highly unlikely) and reach levels as high as before, I don’t expect a huge downturn in truck sales.

      Last big spike also had a financial downturn to go with it, along with far less fuel efficient trucks.

      Even when gas prices were still relatively high just a few years ago, truck sales were already high and so were used truck prices. I couldn’t find a 3-4 year old F150 for less than $20,000, even when gas was almost $4 a gallon.

      People aren’t shocked by high gas prices as before and when full-size trucks are hitting mid-20 mpg with gas and almost 30 mpg with diesel, higher gas prices are not really a deterrent anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the real money is making large cars and trucks more fuel efficient. While demand drops during spikes it seems to start picking back up even before it drops as people get used to the price but still want their truck.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      In the height of the gas crunch, trucks still held the top 2 spots. And cute-utes are getting ‘good enough’ gas mileage for the crowd that worries about such things but still wants a taller vehicle.

      Plus all predictions are likely years of status quo right now in the oil market.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    They got no midsize nor compact car at all. Dodge and Chrysler would be vulnerable, only Jeep would survive.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “They got no midsize nor compact car at all.”

      So they’re able to learn from recent failure?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      They have a compact south of the border, if a gas crisis happened, we would probably say “Hi” to the Dodge Neon once again. The Tipo (Mexican Dodge Neon) may not be US/Canada ready, so something may require work there. If so, I say sell it as a Fiat and a Dodge. Throw US Fiat dealers a frikin bone already.

      They can probably source a C segment sedan from another automaker as a place filler, but that market seems to be getting stomped on by CUVs, of which FCA has plenty, according to Tim Cain.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      They have obviously decided that the market has shifted away from small sedans, and that they are a low margin product not worth investing in.

      FCA hasn’t had a good name in small cheap cars since the *original* Dodge Dart was sold; fixing this would take years for little reward, and would not be a good use of their scarce resources.

      If gas prices spike, they’ll just sell more CUVs. The market for small cars isn’t coming back anytime soon- and I say this as someone who likes driving small cars…

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I wonder when the Michigan Strategic Fund will help Tesla open a store there, since they’re giving money to mfrs.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I can see it now – another new or newly-developed Chrysler product rushed into production, beta testing courtesy of its customers.

    Let the lawsuits begin…

    I sincerely hope not, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Actually letting the engineers make some of the decisions without intervention from the bean counters could possibly help them produce a better product. Of course once it goes into production those bean counters will have their way and the engineers will be back at the drawing board with the mandate to remove $x dollars from this assembly and $xx dollars from that.

  • avatar
    kkop

    Commenters on TTAC are dependably predictable whenever trucks are discussed: who needs a truck other than contractors, capitalist excess, etc.

    Also, nice to see my fellow Americans root for jobs to be created in the USA – not.

    I happen to have two Ram 1500 trucks and love them. Also, even if gas prices spike, I’ll survive at 20+mpg. The utility of them is just too great to get rid of them.

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