FCA Considering Suburban/Expedition Fighter
Since the death of the Ramcharger in 1994, Chrysler has been noticeably absent from the full-size, body-on-frame SUV game. That may change with the next generation of Ram pickups, however, as Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s CEO, Sergio Marchionne, mentioned the possibility of a large SUV during an interview with Automotive News.
The full-size SUV segment is “the near-exclusive use of some other [automakers],” Marchionne said. “We have a reasonable chance of getting at least part of that market.” He continued in saying, “I think we have a unique opportunity with renewal of the pickup line, with the powertrains we selected, to significantly increase output. We will also be exploring, as a result of that investment, some other segments.”
Marchionne didn’t elaborate what other segments he was referring to, but did confirm the proposed SUV would not compete with the upcoming Jeep Grand Wagoneer SUV.
The CEO confirmed FCA is exploring the possibility of a full-sized SUV in response to other popular models like the Chevrolet Suburban and Ford Expedition – models that continually help their respective automakers earn double-digit profit margins. According to AN, these body-on-frame SUVs tend to be the most profitable vehicles sold on a per-unit basis.
There’s no further word on what FCA, or more specifically, Ram would call the SUV, but the automaker does have a rich history of names to choose from. Also obscure is the timeline in which FCA plans on rolling out the new model, or if ever. More in-dept studies are most assuredly planned, helping FCA brass to decide if the venture is worth the investment.
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Why it matters
FCA and Marchionne have highlighted a blank spot in Ram’s lineup that is decades old. The Chevy Suburban, Ford Expedition, and their respective luxury spin-offs have long been dominating the market. Now Ram has the opportunity to start with a fresh design that could sweep consumers off their collective feet and introduce an entirely new product that could possibly (and should) address the shortcomings found with both GM and Ford’s SUVS.
Heck, Ram could even use its heavy-duty expertise to offer a three-quarter or one-ton SUV with three rows of seats and the towing capacity of a conventional one-ton pickup. Ever since the Ford Excursion and Suburban 2500 were put to pasture, that market space has been completely empty. Imagine the interest by large families who tow RVs, horses, or boats! Imagine the Secret Service escorting the Presidential Limo with blacked-out, Ram-branded SUVS. Yeah…
Marchionne was right about many things in his interview with Automotive News, but one thing sticks out – the profits found in the full-size, body-on-frame SUV category are absolutely worth paying attention to. FCA would be foolish not to consider the opportunity.
What’s more, the investment needed to make a three-row SUV based on the Ram truck platform wouldn’t be outrageously expensive. All the big-ticket items like powertrains and (most of the) exterior and interior styling would already be in place on the Ram. This would also allow the Ram truck’s manufacturing cost to drop thanks to the shared parts and costs with its SUV counterpart.
Only time will tell if FCA will move forward with the idea, but the way I see it, it would be a poor decision to miss this opportunity.
Read more about the Ram 1500 Rebel here.
Source: Automotive News