By on October 29, 2018

2018 Ram 2500 Limited Tungsten Edition, Image: FCA

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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7 Comments on “Enter Number Two? Fiat Chrysler Boss Mulls U-turn on Ram HD Production...”

  • avatar

    Go RAM !!!

    GGM chinesum be non going ggarbage. Cheby very rugly.

    Ram has 3 plants? Sterling, Warren and Saltillo. At 250,000/year per plant – that s a lot of capacity to sell.

    Good. It s the best truck on the market and deserves to outsell GGM. Sorry GGM. the truth is the truth.

  • avatar

    Manley seems pretty squared-away. He made some really good Jeep decisions regarding the newest Wrangler and the upcoming Scrambler. I trust his judgement better than most of these folks. He seems to understand his customers.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree and I could see myself making the move to Ram from Ford after 20+ years of Ford truck loyalty. There’s nothing wrong with my current F150, but the current leadership has me feeling like the product is second to future mobility nonsense. Manley seems like a common sense, logical car guy who cares about the product.

  • avatar

    I can definitely see Ram taking over second spot by this time next year. Their truck made meaningful advancements over the previous generation, while GM basically went sideways at best. GM’s awkward styling, plasticky interior, what’s-the-point 4-cylinder, and refusal to make its best assets (6.2L, 10-speed) more accessible, will see them continue to bleed market share. GM’s done a lot right recently, it’s hard to believe they mailed-in the re-design on their most important vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      The Trailboss Custom looks plain awesome! And you can get it standard with the offroad proper, light short and rearward mounted V6. Only truck that just may pip the F150 STX for all out swagger.

      In typical GM fashion, it’s also a “shallow” truck, as measured from bottom of undercarriage, to top of cab. So they can do the lift’n’wheels upgrade, while still slipping under the entry bar of urban parking structures. Ford’s Stetson Tophat, and Ram’s mini Freightliner stylings and proportions, don’t lend themselves as well to that feat.

  • avatar

    I agree

  • avatar

    Yup, I traded my 2016 F150 for the ram. The 5.7 w/ hybrid uses a bit more gas than the Ford, but it sure is a looker!

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