Enter Number Two? Fiat Chrysler Boss Mulls U-turn on Ram HD Production

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
enter number two fiat chrysler boss mulls u turn on ram hd production

In a bid to leapfrog General Motors in pickup sales, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Mike Manley now claims his company’s Saltillo, Mexico assembly plant might continue cranking out heavy-duty Ram trucks after the next-generation model arrives.

Back in January, with the U.S. threatening steep tariffs on Mexican-made vehicles, FCA announced it would move Ram HD production to Warren, Michigan. The automaker promised $1 billion to Warren Truck Assembly to make it happen. Now, with a free trade agreement in place between the U.S. and Mexico, Manley says he doesn’t care where the trucks come from, so long as Americans choose them over FCA’s rivals.

Speaking to Reuters, the CEO, who replaced the late Sergio Marchionne in July, said the January decision is under reconsideration. FCA predicts large demand for its future pickup, and it doesn’t want production constraints thinning the flow to dealers.

Keeping Saltillo on the Ram beat after 2020, rather than the global commercial vehicles Manley’s predecessor envisioned, would allow it to foist more Ram production south of the border if Warren can’t keep up. The Mexican plant also produces the old-generation 1500 Classic, positioned as a cheaper alternative to the new-for-2019 1500 built at Sterling Heights.

“We need to get ourselves into second [place],” Manley said. “Frankly, I don’t care which of the two I take share from.”

The trade agreement signed between the two countries calls for no import cap, so long as the vehicle built in Mexico confirms to updated regional content rules. Ram pickup sales rose 10 percent, year over year, last month, with the overall brand rising 9 percent — its best September showing since splitting from Dodge in 2009.

“With a combination of Warren and Mexico building what we call the classic truck, we have enough production to increase output next year if it’s required,” Manley said. “In my opinion it will be required. We are gaining share. Obviously I am looking for that to continue, but it’s an incredibly competitive segment.”

While Ford’s boffo F-Series truck volume is seemingly unbeatable, GM’s isn’t. The General’s average monthly full-size pickup volume over the most recent quarter (61,567 units) was just under 10,000 units greater than Ram’s September volume (51,856 units). Still, there’s no telling what demand might be like for the automaker’s updated 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

Regardless, Manley sees his cross-town rival as vulnerable, adding that there’s additional capacity to be exploited at Sterling Heights if Ram 1500 demand increases.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Marvin Im a current owner of a 2012 Golf R 2 Door with 5 grand on the odometer . Fun car to drive ! It's my summer cruiser. 2006 GLI with 33,000 . The R can be money pit if service by the dealership. For both cars I deal with Foreign car specialist , non union shop but they know their stuff !!! From what I gather the newer R's 22,23' too many electronic controls on the screen, plus the 12 is the last of the of the trouble free ones and fun to drive no on screen electronics Maze !
  • VoGhost I'm clearly in the minority here, but I think this is a smart move. Apple is getting very powerful, and has slowly been encroaching on the driving experience over the last decade. Companies like GM were on the verge of turning into mere hardware vendors to the Apple brand. "Is that a new car; what did you get?" "I don't remember. But it has the latest Apple OS, which is all I care about." Taking back the driving experience before it was too late might just be GM's smartest move in a while.
  • VoGhost Can someone Christian explain to me what this has to do with Jesus and bunnies?
  • Del My father bought GM cars in the 60's, but in 1971 he gave me a used Datsun (as they were called back then), and I'm now in my 70's and am happy to say that GM has been absent from my entire adult life. This article makes me gladder than ever.
  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.