Pickup truck makers are seemingly bound and determined to explore the upper echelons of price and luxury, constantly layering trim after trim (and profit after profit) atop their popular models. The latest? For 2023, there will be a Ram 1500 Limited Elite available on dealer lots.
Stellantis has reportedly agreed to plead guilty to criminal conspiracy charges relating to emissions requirements on over 100,000 diesel-powered Ram and Jeep products sold in the United States. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) was previously on the hook for $800 million in civil penalties over a so-called “defeat device” equipped to the automaker’s 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine. Allegations began in 2017 as regulators were hunting for compliance violations in the wake of Volkswagen’s massive emissions scandal from a couple of years earlier.
In a captive import enterprise that began in 1979, Dodge sold Mitsubishi’s compact pickup (aka Mighty Max in North America) to compete with the likes of the Ford (Mazda) Courier and the Chevrolet (Isuzu) LUV. Badged as the Ram 50, the truck was sold through two generations, 1979-1986 and 1987-1994. By the Nineties, the second-gen was showing its age, and Dodge decided it would rather focus on its own midsize truck, the Dakota.
But there was another captive import that arrived at the very same time as the second edition of the Ram 50. Say hello to the Raider.
The perpetual cycle of one-upmanship in the pickup truck game seems to be continuing at a breakneck pace into the electric era. The in-yer-face Ram brand, never one to shy away from bold or poke-the-bear marketing, let fly with a Twitter post touting their upcoming Ram EV – one day before the scheduled launch of the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning.
Dodge’s import truck story began in 1979, when the Mitsubishi Forte (or L200) arrived on North American shores, rebadged as the Dodge D-50 and Plymouth Arrow. A captive import like the Colt, the durable Dodge D-50 (later Ram 50) proved itself a solid entrant into the compact pickup truck market. What proved unpopular was the Plymouth Arrow, which did not make it past its initial 1979-1982 outing. The Ram 50 was refreshed in 1982 but was certainly due for replacement in 1987 when the second generation arrived.
Recently on Abandoned History, we learned about the Colt, a captive import Dodge/Plymouth/Eagle/AMC/Renault sold courtesy of a badge swap on some compact cars from Mitsubishi. During that series’ tenure, one of our readers had a great idea: A separate Abandoned History discussion of the captive import trucks and SUVs in the Dodge portfolio. The time has come!
The auto industry might be moving headlong into all-electrics but that doesn’t mean internal combustion is dead, not by a long shot. Witness the introduction of a brand-new engine from Stellantis, a turbocharged inline-six that will be capable of generating more than 500 horsepower.
Development of this ‘Hurricane’ I-6 was kept on the down-low, at least as much as can be expected during these modern times when everyone has a camera in their pocket. Two variants will be available when the engine goes into production and pops up in showrooms later this year.
Ford and Stellantis are issuing recalls on some of their biggest models — figuratively and literally — this week. But the issues are quite a bit less dire than the repeat fire risks you’ve probably grown accustomed to. These defects will still allow customers to park their vehicle indoors without fear of awakening to a raging inferno emanating from the garage. Owners could probably even get away without having their cars fixed by the manufacturer until the relevant parts actually started breaking. Though why anybody would turn down free repairs on any component that didn’t pass muster is beyond me.
Impacted vehicles include 2021-22 model year Dodge Durango SUVs, 2019-22 MY Ram 2500 pickups, and 2019-22 MY Ram 3500 Chassis Cab trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) under 10,000 pounds, all with bunk electronic stability control (ESC) warning lights. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 375,000 vehicles should be affected. Meanwhile, Ford is only looking at 175,000 units of the 2021 F-150 pickup with bum wiper motors.
Utility vans are fantastic vehicles, though many people still walk the Earth tragically untouched by the divine knowledge of unparalleled versatility. They see vans un-sexily driving about in their basic hues with nothing to gawk at, having clearly forgotten it’s what’s on the inside that counts. But Ram is throwing them a bone with the revised 2023 ProMaster by giving the formerly ugliest small van a complete makeover.
That means updated headlamps and a revised front fascia that makes the vehicle look more like the kind of vehicle European terrorists might use in an action flick, rather than some wide-eyed fish. Though there is also a gaggle of new technology inclusions and meaningful configurations designed to make the van better suited to individual needs/tastes — showing that style and substance don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
This week, Stellantis announced the Ram Revolution at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show. Though it was less of an all-electric pickup concept intended to compete on a market that’s about to become saturated with them, and more of a way to engage with consumers on how the truck brand should implement its take on the segment.
To the surprise of everyone working here, Ram’s Revolution turned out to be little more than a market-research campaign designed to ensure the automaker can build an electric truck people actually want to buy. But that doesn’t mean the manufacturer hasn’t already made plans of its own. Ram CEO Mike Koval Jr. has even been sharing some of Stellantis’ electrification strategies, including outfitting some 1500 electric pickups with a range extender.
The wave of all-electric pickups is well upon the market, with options on the table from non-traditional players like Rivian and Tesla plus legacy automakers like Ford and GM. The latter has trotted out a variety of rigs all based on their Ultium technology, while Dearborn has apparently been busy filling every order they care to take. Rivian trucks have also been spotted in the wild, which is more than what we can say for Tesla.
One brand notably absent from the EV table? Ram. While they’ve shown shadowy sketches and vague underpinnings of promised pickups, we’ve yet to see a fully-built take on what’s traditionally been the truck segment’s most in-yer-face competitor.
They’re apparently working on something, however – and are inviting potential customers along for the ride.
A captive lending arm can be a major source of profit for automakers. After all, keeping that paper in-house instead of farming it out to a third party permits some of that sweet interest-driven revenue rolling on a monthly recurring basis. Why else did most of us, for many years during GMAC’s heyday, refer to General Motors as a finance company which just happened to sell cars?
Following several years of shacking up with Santander in order to offer financing for their customers, Stellantis has bought F1 Holdings Corp., an outfit that is the parent of Texas-based First Investors Financial Services Group. Now they’ve spent $285 million in this all-cash transaction, Stellantis is no longer the only major automaker in America without a captive finance arm.
Ram has been subjected to numerous investigations over the last few years, especially in regard to its heavy-duty diesel pickups. We can throw another item onto the list, as the manufacturer has opted to recall 131,177 HD trucks from the 2021 and 2022 model year.
While we recently covered an investigation launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to assess whether reports citing that late-model HD pickups using the 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel had motive issues, the current recall appears unrelated. The former investigation is centered around slightly older trucks and a loss of motive power presumed to be the result of defective fuel pumps that could warrant a recall. This issue is a full-blown recall surrounding a potential fire risk originating from an issue with the solid-state heater intake grid relay.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into nearly 605,000 heavy-duty Ram trucks. A report from the regulator’s Office of Defects Investigation has tabulated 22 complaints from the 2019 and 2020 model years, all of which use 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel engines, spurring the NHTSA to launch a formal investigation. Complaints revolve around loss of motive power, with most incidents occurring above 25 mph and resulting in the “permanent disablement of the vehicle.”
While the public was not made aware of the investigation until Monday, the agency launched its probe last Thursday on October 14th. The goal will be to establish how widespread the presumed defect is, what exactly caused it, and any potential safety hazards relating to the issue. Some headway has already been made, however.