Ram bucked the trend of offering a short-term extension of a previous-generation product, keeping its older-model 1500 pickup in production for longer than the typical year, let’s say.
Having the old model stick around after the new-for-2019 1500’s appearance paid dividends, with Ram muscling past Chevrolet’s Silverado in sales last year. Without a midsize pickup with which to tempt lower-priced buyers, the brand felt that an aging full-sizer with a pared-down price tag was the next best thing for boosted volume.
For 2021, that recipe hasn’t changed.
For those of you who value, um, value in your pickup purchase, there’s good news. Ram’s 1500 Classic, the name given to the previous-generation half-ton that soldiers on alongside the new-for-2019 1500, shows no signs of impending death.
Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley made that point abundantly clear during an earnings call last week. Debuting for the 2009 model year, the Classic earns its moniker, yet the advancements and refinements showered on its successor hasn’t diminished demand for the old model — the new-gen 1500’s higher price point assures FCA of a steady stream of buyers.
Amazingly, a refresh may be in the works.
You’ve probably just read about the Performance Appearance Package foisted on the doomed Chrysler 300. Now that your heart rate has returned to a resting level, here’s another Fiat Chrysler options bundle for your consideration: the Ram 1500 Classic’s Sub Zero Package.
The first new Ram grab bag offered to customers in what seems like eight minutes, ticking the box for Sub Zero prepares customers for a season literally no one wants to think about in mid-June.
Fiat Chrysler doesn’t break down its Ram pickup sales figures for us wordy-typey slobs, so it isn’t easy to figure out just how much the held-over 1500 Classic has helped the brand’s soaring sales. FCA decided, last year, that the old-generation half-ton should remain in production, and not just to smooth things over while the new-for-2019 1500 got up to speed.
Well, we now have a better idea of just how useful that strategy was. Go figure — scores of American truck buyers are willing to forgo refinement for a lower price on a big, brawny pickup.
Fiat Chrysler’s Tuesday announcement will surely make it the darling among domestic automakers, especially in the eye of a certain American president.
To fund the creation of new and next-generation models, most of them Jeeps, FCA is committing $4.6 billion to numerous Michigan plants, $1.6 billion of which will flow to Detroit’s Mack Avenue Engine Complex (soon to become a vehicle assembly plant). Among the vehicles funded with this promise are the long-awaited Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. Oh, and there’s another new Jeep on the way.
Another tidbit: FCA really likes the extra cash brought in by the old-generation Ram 1500 Classic. The model, seen above in Warlock trim, will soldier on.
Fiat Chrysler is the master of squeezing every last bit of life out of a vehicle or platform. Witness the Dodge Charger/Challenger and its umpteen permutations that have appeared since it rolled off the ark many moons ago.
The automaker performed the same trick with the old Ram 1500, slathering the thing in bright paint or giving it a natty set of wheels towards the end of its design cycle to create a of special edition or twelve. That truck, still in production with the word “Classic” now appended to its name, has had yet another new trim added to its totem pole — despite being usurped last year by a new Ram 1500.
And its name is a dandy one, harvested from Chrysler’s history vaults.
In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company replaced the original formula of its flagship soft drink and called the beverage “New Coke.” The new label was tucked into the corner, as this was to become the brand’s staple flavor. But the soda company knew better than to gamble its business on an unproven taste, so it retained the old formula and bottled it as “Coca-Cola Classic.” The end result was more sales and a safety net for those unwilling to steer their taste buds into adventure.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is doing the same thing with the Ram brand. The full-size 1500 pickup truck was replaced for the 2019 model year. However, FCA wanted to keep both the fourth and fifth generations of the half-ton hauler on the books.
Since Ram can’t call them both the 1500 and hope people recognize the difference, it’s appending the older model with the Classic nameplate. The brand will offer both the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic, known internally as the DS model, and the all-new 2019 Ram 1500, marked as the DT, at all North American dealers through the 2018 calendar year.
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