By on September 19, 2016

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel

The next-generation Ram 1500, due to appear as a 2019 model, can’t afford any delays or Dodge Dart-like launch failures if it wants to challenge perennial front-runner Ford in the full-size pickup battle.

To ensure it doesn’t spend too much time in the womb, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has taken the unlikely step of allowing some of its engineers to make their own decisions, Automotive News reports.

Clearly, when the success of one of its biggest revenue generators is at stake, the automaker is willing to kick tradition to the curb.

The report states that a number of FCA engineers working on the next-generation Ram have been given authority to make snap decisions in the interest of timeliness. Otherwise, they’d face the status quo — a bureaucratic process where decisions, handed down from the top of the food chain, could take months.

According to Automotive News, a delay in the production of Ram prototypes from October 2017 to January 2018 is the reason for the change. Production Ram 1500s are expected to start rolling down the assembly line on January 28, 2018. There’s little to no room for delays.

FCA’s change in approach has reportedly left its suppliers pleased. In the past, suppliers slammed the automaker for its dithering, which led to a loss of time and money.

The next-generation Ram is an especially sensitive product, as more than just the vehicle needs to come together on time. Production will move from FCA’s Warren assembly plant to Sterling Heights, and the facility needs an extensive, $1.5 billion retooling after the unloved Chrysler 200 is sent packing at the end of this year.

Unlike Ford, Ram plans to stick with traditional all-steel construction for its new pickup. Because of this, the automaker can’t count on any fuel economy gains through weight savings. On that front, FCA plans to add direct injection to its 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, as well as optional turbocharging. A long-discussed belt starter generator start-stop system, where the alternator acts as the vehicle’s starter, is expected to reach production in the Ram, cutting down on its thirst.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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60 Comments on “Fiat Chrysler Loosens Engineers’ Leashes to Speed Up Ram Development...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “A long-discussed belt alternator generator, which acts as the vehicle’s starter”

    A wha? How’s that work?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Also, with the lighting my brain automatically converted that truck to two-tone white over light almond pearl, even though it’s not actually there.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “light almond pearl”

      You must be able to read today’s color names without guffawing.

      Is it an age thing?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I power through, with the understanding that resistance to flouncy color terms is futile. I blame HGTV and Sherwin-Williams for this ridiculous adjective acceptance.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        And they’re such boring colors, too; that’s the sad part.

        The most “unique” color I’ve had was probably the brown X5…excuse me, actually it was Sparkling Bronze Metallic.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Speaking of disappoint, I checked out the “green” leather on the new Continental (Reserve or Black Label only), and that crap is just a light stone with like .004% green tinge to it.

          I wanted 1994 Taurus-inental green.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Lol. Remember when an automaker would deck the interior in velour color-matched to the exterior? Those were the (Lee Iacocca) days.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh yes, I remember the Fifth Avenue well.

            http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RHYeH8f5eEQ/UBYY5hjGbpI/AAAAAAAABGY/4tE_sMi6nzM/s1600/5TH5.jpg

            MOST COMFORTABLE PLACE EVER. The carpets had like 2.5″ nap.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Yeah. But if you find one nowadays, just do yourself a favor and don’t shine a blacklight on the interior.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh ewww. Need some Scotch Guard (TM) and then the root beer wont stick!

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Hah! Ford came up with a late 1960s color called “sea foam green”. The police always wrote yellow in the ticket.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Saw a Lincoln MKX in Platinum Dune (a kind of metallic gold) this weekend…pretty cool, I must admit.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’ve seen that color. Very creamy.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Corey, I am pleased to announce that in one fell swoop I have sold my Maxima (for the $2350 asking price I advertised it at) and then the following day bought a very well looked after ’96 ES300 with 203k miles for $1600. We’re talking gold emblems and a two tone paint scheme (rosy beige over a different color beige lol). Oh my god the night and day difference in how this car drives compared to the Maxima, how much better the interior quality is, etc. I can unequivocally say that the Lexus on original 200k mile shocks and fairly worn Michelin Primacy tires drives better than most of the new/almost new vehicles I test drove on Saturday in terms of ride comfort. And the material quality inside this ’96 is better than what is found in my fiance’s father’s ’13 ES300h, stuff like rear door cards and lower-dash trim. Touches like door cards carpeted on the bottom to prevent shoe scuffs, and a little mini sun visor that covers the spot above the rear view mirror just make this thing feel really special. Toyota, how could I have strayed?! i will repent for my sins by bringing this gem back to full luster. It needs brakes all around, ABS light is on after a wheel bearing replacement recently (according to the PO), there is a clunk in the rear suspension (strut or strut mount), and it is due for a timing belt change.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Very nice! #nowindowframes

            Do you get a lot of wind noise around those old seals?
            And someone paid $2350 for that Max?! It sounded so bad!

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Wind noise or any other noise is pretty darn minimal compared to anything I drive currently. I could here a bit from the passenger seat at like 85mph when the seller was showing it to me.

            Maxima was actually a decently clean (exterior and interior wise) car within that price bracket (drove well on the highway, good heat and A/C, accessories worked), the lady who bought it for her son was pretty exacerbated by the options she saw at used car lots, and was overjoyed by the (relatively) smooth ride that the maxima on its new struts had, and when I pointed out the fairly fresh name brand tires and contrasted it to the Chinese garbage she’d be dealing with elsewhere, she was sold.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Interesting – did the seller let you drive it? I’ve never had someone show me a car, and put me in the passenger seat.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Oh yeah I drove it, he just insisted on driving it for me first lol. Between that and the super clean interior, absolutely meticulous record keeping and anal retentive oil change and tire rotation schedule (using only Toyota filters and Valvoline Durablend oil at the local Toyota dealer), and tracking oil changes and fuel fillups using the two trip meters, the previous owner was an OCD kind of guy. And that’s exactly the kind of person I wish I could buy all of my used cars from.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Sounds like you could make a new friend there. Such similar interests!

      • 0 avatar

        “Dark metallic mulberry elk grain vinyl roof” – from a 1970s era Cadillac window sticker.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I feel GM truly underperformed with the latest trucks. Although it did well by the “traditional truck” crowd, the Silverado and Sierra underwhelm in certain categories (hence the emergency 2016 refresh).

    I doubt FCA will make that same mistake with the Ram. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. The decision-makers have to have finalized much of it by now.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Of course, but it will still be a Chrysler product. I don’t know how good their sales will be, regardless of refresh. I do believe many of their components used in the Ram are quite durable.

      They sure do make a nice-looking truck, though!

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        When Chysler was run by accountants, the engineers kept them at bay by using the same durable parts and drive trains year after year, and Dodge trucks benefitted from the small improvements the engineers snuck in.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      GM has been far, far to conservative with Chevy. not least because they’ve released a string of new models (2013 Malibu, 2014 Silverado, 2016 Camaro) which looked way, way too similar to the outgoing model. They avoided that mistake with the new Cruze and Volt, however. Maybe they’ll learn their lesson. for example, every new generation of F-150 has looked substantially different than the previous.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Kyree S. Williams,
      I don’ know if I can totally agree with you.

      I think GM has outperformed Ford, just look at the number of pickups moved by GM compared to Ford.

      Ford seems to spend a lot of money for the return it has been getting in pickups. Look at the aluminium trucks Ford is now locked into. GM doesn’t have this problem.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I wonder if the 5.7L will make it over for the next gen, and if it does for how long it will be available?

    My WAG feeling is that the 2020 half-ton Ram engine offerings will be Pentastar, turbo Pentastar, Ecodiesel V6, and a big-dollar option (like almost equal to the diesel) 6.4L V8.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The 5.7 has cylinder de-activation that works to improve economy and has been pretty durable. I’m not sure the 6.4 has it. Still, Chrysler/FCA is overdue to bring out a sub-5 liter V8 that’s more efficient. In the old days, they’d slap a couple 2.4 fours together into one block with nearly everything (pistons, rods, valvetrain) from the 2.4 shared.

      Don’t forget, they’ve got a reduced displacement version of the Pentastar that’s 3.2 liters, so the 3.6 with DI and a few other improvements may well be top of the line for Ram. If the 6.4 hemi is all they’ve got, then a lot of Mexicans at Saltillo will be out of work.

  • avatar
    NoID

    LOLZ, companies have been doing this for years. Just a matter of leaving certain names off of the change management approval list…

    I can attest to the frustration of long review and approval chains for changes, both on the supplier side and the OEM side. I just hope the changes are being properly documented in this case, because I can also attest to living the nightmare of wading through part histories trying to find out when So and So, Whats His Name, and What’s Her Face made sequential changes to parts that I’m now responsible for without revising the part number(s).

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Well trucks are currently as important to the product portfolio as full size sedans were in 1965.

    Can’t eff this up and expect to survive.

  • avatar
    Yankee

    Rushing a Chrysler product into production. What could go wrong?

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Personally I hope to see a more dynamic color palette and some serious shift in its overall appearance towards more aerodynamic shapes. Pickup trucks simply don’t need those massively tall hoods and squared off shapes and honestly I’m sick of the pretense in such trucks.

    I also hope to see more variety in sizes as Ram, like Ford, is getting left behind in the smaller truck market, which is a pity since they offer such a variety in every country EXCEPT the US.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      I hope they double down on the squared off machoness and some of it trickles to the (refreshed but hopefully mechanically unchanged) 300 and Charger, the last thing in the world that I want is pickup trucks looking like a Honda CRV or Equinox with a tapering upwards bed. Eeeeewww!

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      So maybe a *softer side* of Ram?? I’m sure even chicks want a rugged, tough look to a Ram truck. Dodge originated the big rig styling.

    • 0 avatar
      torqueSteer

      Honest curiosity, what do you find lacking from the current palette? Ram offers 12 solid colors plus 12 combinations of two tone, not to mention colors on ‘special edition’ rams like Stinger Yellow. I believe it’s dealers that ruin the palette by the stock they order. Looking at inventory from one of the largest Ram dealers in CA: of the 359 Rams in stock, 194 white, 85 gray, 74 black, 4 silver, 2 red. Yeah so they stock one ‘color’ aside from a variant of black and white, pretty sad.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Sure they have 12 colors, but one of them is white and eight more are shades of grey. Actual colors are limited to two reds and one blue.

        • 0 avatar
          torqueSteer

          Actually, 7 colors:
          Blue Streak Pearl
          True Blue Pearl
          Flame Red
          Delmonico Red Pearl
          Luxury Brown Pearl
          Black Forrest Green Pearl
          Stinger Yellow (limited release)

          On the fence about Maximum Steel Metallic, it’s a shade of grey with a bit of blue.

          source: http://www.ramtrucks.com/assets/pdf/brochures/16MY_Ram_1500_ebrochure.pdf

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            One green (too dark), one brown (prefer metallic and more chocolate-colored), two red (I do like the Delmonico), and two blue (True Blue too dark but acceptable, Blue Streak too light and reminds me of my pos ’73 Gran Torino that ended up costing me $400/month just to keep running over its last six years of life–not counting gas.) So fair, but not a good selection. It used to be that you could find at least three shades of any primary and secondary color along with one Black, one White and one Gray. Yes, especially with Dodge (though also with Pontiac) you could even find a vibrant Purple.

            I despise the fact that six of their “colors” are all greyscale. Those things tend to disappear on the roads in wet weather, no matter how large they are. And too many people forget (or choose not to despite state and Federal laws) to turn on their lights in wet weather. Believe it or not, the other colors somehow manage to stand out in all but the worst conditions.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Where’s the burnt orange? Where’s the Barney Dinosaur purple? Where’s the lime green? Where are the two-tones, like cherry pink and apple blossom white? Can we get some pastels?

            We need some exterior color choices too.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Wtf are they thinking? Ram should be their #1 top priority, as FCA’s top revenue provider, by a wide margin and on a single line of ‘cars’.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I already have a slogan for these rush job RAMS – “suddenly it’s 2020”. If history repeats itself it will mean FCA will get to flirt with bankruptcy once again just like in 1958 (and 1964, and 1974, and 1979, 2008, etc.).

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      1981 (not 1979) and 2008 were the only years. They survived 1958 due to Plymouth sales, 1964 saw the end of the funky Valiant styling throughout the lineup along with the new Continental-style Imperial, and the Dart/Valiant twins combined with Mitsubishi imports helped them weather the ’74 oil crisis. Even the Omni/Horizon kept them out of bankruptcy until Iacocca could sell the K car – to Congress.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I’m thinking that is managements way of wussing out on an important project. After the Dart and 200 they have no confidence so now they will pass the buck and will have a handy excuse if something goes wrong.

  • avatar
    Jim Fekete

    I wouldn’t assume that because they aren’t going to an all aluminum body, that they won’t get any weight savings from the body. Advanced steels, targeted aluminum (e.g. hoods), even composites could play a role, without having to tear up the body shop.

  • avatar
    zip94513

    Better crash & rollover protection had better be the Ram’s #1 priority.

  • avatar
    The D in Detroit

    It’s about time. If we aren’t the biggest, where do you find competitive advantage? We are already faster then GM. I know. Been there, too. If the financial clouds ever clear, count on Jeep and Ram to thrive.

    D

  • avatar
    seanx37

    Because what FCA needs is less engineering and quality control oversight

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    If the organization cannot review important matters in a reasonable time, fix the goddamn organization! I don’t know if there are too many levels, too many competing agendas, or a broken process, but the fact that nobody is addressing the root cause is the real lede here and it’s utterly pathetic.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You’ve hit the nail on the head here, Truck; each division is supposed to be independent within the whole EXCEPT where parts and materials can be shared across divisions. It is the type of management you describe that has prevented Jeep from offering one or two trucks independent of the RAM brand because RAM would see them as competition but the corporate entity would see it as more profits. For now, RAM shares almost nothing with any other brand within the company and simply doesn’t need that level of power. What it does need to do is concentrate on its own issues and not have to go outside of the division to seek permission for every tiny change. That’s the sort of thing that leads into mistakes being made resulting in recalls for obvious mechanical issues.

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