Ram/Jeep Chief Mike Manley comments on future trucks

Rumblings of Ram re-entering the midsize truck category have been amplified by comments made by Ram brand chief Mike Manley to journalists at the New York Auto Show. Manley’s comments also included talks about the recently confirmed Jeep midsize pickup, though no hard details were uncovered.

“I think there’s opportunity there in the U.S. if you look at what’s happened in the midsize segment here – significant growth last year,” Manley said to The Detroit News on Wednesday at the NY Auto show. “I think that space is big enough, certainly, to have two offerings there.”

That certainly affords a glance into what FCA has planned for both Ram and Jeep in the coming years, though Manley refused to say anything official. “I wouldn’t even confirm if we’ll have two offerings, let alone confirm a time frame.” Currently FCA does not offer a midsize truck in North America. Now, thanks largely to the growing revival of the midsize truck segment, the automaker may in fact bring two all-new trucks to market. The two trucks would square off against the Chevrolet and GMC twin, the Colorado and Canyon, the Nissan Frontier, the Honda Ridgeline, and the long-time sales champion, the Toyota Tacoma.

This topic doesn’t just concern North America. FCA has recently shuffled executives around, staking the deck to make Ram a better international brand. This points to the potential of Ram offering a multi-market, internationally sold pickup.

Speaking to the matter, Manley said, “We don’t necessarily today have the right portfolio within Ram to cater to all of those markets, but we do have a strong brand. Ram brand is known very well in Africa and the Middle East, and also Latin America.” In fact, Manley mentioned Bob Hegbloom, former head of Ram North America, now head of Ram International, would be headed to Brazil after the NY Auto Show to consult with members of Fiat regarding cross-brand sharing. “There’s potential, Manley said, for Ram to use a Fiat platform for a Ram pickup.”

While Manley wouldn’t speak further on Ram’s future products, he undoubtedly gave the industry and interested consumers something to talk about.

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Why It Matters

Wow, what a telling interview! The Detroit News definitely struck gold with its conversations with Mike Manley. If in fact Ram does move forward with a midsize pickup, we now know there’s potential for that truck to be a re-branded Fiat Toro, a unibody midsize truck whose chassis is based on the Jeep Renegade. The Toro, if sold in the U.S., would be a strong competitor against the Honda Ridgeline. Whether that is Ram’s plan is unknown.

That plan of Ram offering a “softer,” unibody truck makes sense if Jeep takes a more rugged approach to its midsize pickup. That would give FCA a wider breath of pickup offerings, which would then appeal to a greater audience. The potential for large sales is there, if FCA plays its cards right.

Regardless of how this plays out, should Ram and Jeep both debut a midsize pickup, the segment would have some major upsets. We can’t wait to see what happens.

Source: Detroit News

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