Ram Is Becoming A Stand-alone Brand

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Chrysler – which is now managed by Fiat – is going to spin off the Dodge Ram as a stand-alone product line. The full plans for the new Ram brand are being given to the U.S. government today, and The rumor is that the Ram brand will make it easier for Fiat to manage the marketing of the Chrysler brands. Here’s what the new Chrysler landscape is supposed to look like:

  • Ram becomes the truck brand of the company
  • Dodge becomes the performance brand, perhaps sourcing vehicles from Alfa Romeo (in addition to Fiat)
  • Chrysler moves more towards the luxury brand that Daimler wanted it to be all those years ago
  • Jeep keeps on keepin’ on

While this new brand alignment sounds smart, Chrysler is still in serious trouble. There’s no assurance that the government bailout is going to save Chrysler – analysts universally agree that Chrysler has serious problems, including poor quality, a lack of R&D, and a strong likelihood that Chrysler vehicles won’t be able to meet new fuel economy regulations in the coming years.

So what about selling off the Ram brand down the road?

After all, Fiat doesn’t know pickups. The current Ram is a solid pickup that’s selling reasonably well, and Fiat might not be able to follow-up on the next-gen Ram with the same level of success. It’s entirely possible that the current Ram will be the best Ram ever, and that future Fiat versions of the Ram won’t be as successful. The rule is to sell high, right? Why not cash out now while the Ram is a top choice?

Selling Ram would allow Fiat to focus on what they’re good at (cars), and they wouldn’t have to worry about fuel economy regulations. Nissan would probably be very interested in buying Ram…and they’ve got the product portfolio to balance out the Ram’s low fuel economy numbers as regulations get tighter.

Another reason to sell Ram is that, unlike Jeep, the future of the Ram is a little cloudy. Tough fuel economy and emissions regulations are making it harder to make money with pickups. Trucks aren’t going to be the cash cow they once were.

If you add it up –

  • Fiat isn’t really a truck company
  • Ram is never going to be more valuable than it is now
  • The Ram brand’s long-term value is in question because the truck market is changing

and it seems very possible that Fiat could sell Ram. Maybe not next week, but if they need cash in 2010 or 2011, the option is probably going to be on the table.

Bottom line: Splitting off Ram might just be a marketing move right now, but it also makes getting out of the truck market that much easier if Fiat struggles to save Chrysler.

Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com

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  1. Goofballtech says:

    My personal opinion is that the Ram Trucks are over priced with features comperable to the closest Chevy, GMC, Ford, and Toyota models. I tryed to keep my mind as open as possible when shopping for my recent truck and found that the same deal on a similar truck among the Tundra, Silverado, and Sierra (My Main Focus) were within 3K of each other. The dodge took a very similar truck and pushed the price up between 5 and 8 thousand dollars. I could not justify this price range for the ‘Hemi’ even though it has had fair performance in power and towing… it’s not worth that much extra money to me.

    Tundra’s Rock! WOOOOOOOOOO!

  2. mk says:

    Me too, why spend over 4K more just to get GM’s 6.2L V8 when it is very comparable to the stock Tundra’s 5.7L V8 without all that extra cost. If someone is gullable enough to buy out Dodge RAM, it would be good for Fiat. Saturn was going to be bought out by Penske, but look how that ‘sure’ thing flopped with Penske now backing out and leaving Saturn to probably die off just like Oldsmobile and now Pontiac. No wonder new car sales here in WI for September dropped 40% for Chrysler and a wopping 45% for GM, while car sales fell only 5% for Ford. The news did not mention Toyota, etc., but sure cannot be higher than 40%. Bankruptcy does mind sets in consumers who are unwilling to even consider Chrysler and GM products even though I think some of their vehicles are better quality than previous models.

  3. Brian says:

    I don’t think the Ram will have a problem with re-design as long as they keep the old Chrysler designers working on the next-gen Ram. I don’t see Fiat giving that job to its own Italian designers.

  4. Mickey says:

    Nissan Ram, and a Chrylser Titan. Really makes sense….

  5. Brian says:

    Chrysler is no longer making the Titan for Nissan. That relationship went sour.

  6. Brian – True. I don’t see Fiat firing anyone (the company is already streamlined), so the current Ram design and development team is probably going to be left intact. However, I’ve read a few times that Chrysler spends 30% less on R&D than most auto manufacturers. I’ve also read that Chrysler has about half as many engineers per vehicle as their competitors. Less R&D and fewer engineers usually equals lower quality (which is where Chrysler is right now). I don’t think Chrysler can afford to keep up with Ford, Toyota, and GM when it comes to the next generation of pickups. My guess? The cost-cutting done under Cerebrus will catch-up with the Ram in a couple of years. When Ford, Toyota, and GM roll out new versions of their half tons, Ram will be peddling the same old rig…

  7. Das4c says:

    Jason, what does “Fiat isn

  8. Das4c – Fair enough. Iveco is the real deal. The point I was trying to make (and I think it has some legitimacy even in light of your comment) is that Fiat isn’t known for great pickups – they’re known for great cars. Much like Toyota is re-evaluating what they do and who they are, Fiat’s greatest strength is good small cars. If Fiat/Chrysler is starved for cash in 18-24 months, and if the truck market hasn’t heated back up by that time, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ram was sold off.

  9. Mickey says:

    Now we know why you have those comments das4c. Go for the bailout you paid for some of that. Might as well as get your money back with a Dodge or Chrysler or Fiat what ever the name will be.

  10. Das4c says:

    The smartest move for Fiat would be to introduce a european version of the American full size pickup. The europeans love them, you can take a full size truck to Germany and get what a lot more then what its worth due to the demand. The only thing they have to do is find a way around their taxing system due to the fact they tax the engine by the size. Thus the reason for 1.2l and a 5.0 V-12 in the BMW. The biggest pickup they have is a ranger. I unloaded a 99 Serria with a 7.4 in 2004 for 3K less than MSRP when I bought it.

  11. Das4c – Interesting. I was always under the impression that gas prices were too high for serious interest in real pickups in Europe. Was your buyer a wealthy person looking for a toy or someone who needed a real truck?

  12. Das4c says:


  13. TXTee says:

    I just found out today that gas prices are of os much concern you can’t even find 350Zs in Europe. I can only imagine a truck.

  14. That’s what I thought, but I bet there’s a business case for a big pickup for some people…just like Das4c said.

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