Marchionne: Midsize pickup still not in the cards; Ram 1500, Jeep Wrangler could use aluminumWed, 07 May 2014 11:32:00 EST
During the Fiat-Chrysler briefings on Tuesday, Reid Bigland, head of Ram Trucks, outlined the new product plans for his brand, including confirmation that an all-new light-duty Ram 1500 will launch in 2017. From there, discussions spun off in two directions, with the main questions being: will Ram build a midsize pickup? And, following Ford's move to extensively use aluminum in its new 2015 F-150, will Chrysler be using this weight-saving material for the next round of its fullsize truck, as well?
"I think there is room for a Ram 1000," Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne (pictured above) told members of the media, saying this is a conversation the automaker has been having internally for several years now. "We've tried this ... we've actually taken it to clinics," Marchionne stated, adding that the "response has been lukewarm."
Bigland echoed Marchionne's thoughts, saying that, in theory, a midsize pickup in the NAFTA region (North America and Canada) makes sense. That said, with the company's new plans to consolidate platforms, such a vehicle would have to be unibody – not body-on-frame, like most pickups. And when asked about a Wrangler pickup – something enthusiasts would enjoy, and something that Jeep has considered before – Marchionne, along with Jeep head Michael Manley, said there are no plans to produce such a vehicle at this time.
"I have better use of aluminum in this house than a pickup truck." – Sergio Marchionne
Moving to the question of aluminum, Marchionne said that Fiat-Chrysler still has reservations about using this metal in the creation of its next Ram 1500, and that the company will be watching the F-150 launch very closely. Should the F-150 prove to be hugely successful, Marchionne said Ram is ready to respond – "if it's the right answer, Chrysler will be there."
Interestingly, the CEO remarked on several occasions that aluminum would be used elsewhere in the Fiat-Chrysler portfolio. And when asked if there's a better use of aluminum than with the new Jeep Wrangler, Marchionne very bluntly responded, "No." A Wrangler with aluminum components? Color us intrigued.
"We can do aluminum in '17," Marchionne said, regarding the Ram 1500. But every time the lightweight metal was brought up, he simply reminded us, "I have better use of aluminum in this house than a pickup truck."
By Steven J. Ewing
See also: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: The next five years, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: The next five years, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: The next five years.