Archive for the ‘ford’ Tag

How big will the next Dodge Charger be?

Back in 1960, Chrysler Corporation converted almost its entire product line from body-on-frame to unibody (still using subframes). The revolutionary change could have frightened customers off, as the Airflow did, despite extensive testing.

The company’s leaders thought they could prevent customer resistance by making the cars look fairly similar to the 1959s, a successful strategy. They were lighter and handled better, and that’s all most customers noticed. Chrysler could have made major changes to the styling to call attention to the change, but chose not to.

That made a comment by reliable source oh2o especially interesting: he wrote that the next-generation Charger would be about the size it is today. Most sources have claimed that the Charger would be shrinking to differentiate it more from the 300.

This goes along with yet-unconfirmed rumors that Chrysler might make a large front wheel drive car — a niche flagship which, thanks to shared engineering and a shared plant with the Pacifica, would not need to sell in large numbers to make a profit. The Chrysler could be even larger inside, perhaps sacrificing the V8 for a six, turbocharged or not.

The Charger would stay a muscle car, keeping its size and successful market niche, but with higher gas mileage, better acceleration with its standard engines, and better handling.

As for running against Mustangs and Camaros, there’s no reason for the Charger to do that anyway — now that we have the Dodge Challenger. Indeed, when the original Dodge Charger was made, it was not aimed at the Mustang or Camaro; that was the job of the Plymouth Barracuda (joined in 1970 by the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Duster).

Read more at: http://www.allpar.com/news/2016/05/how-big-will-the-next-dodge-charger-be-31783

Crossovers replacing sedans: Back to the past

Sergio Marchionne’s comment that the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 would be allowed to “run their course” and then be replaced by cars from a “potential partner” caused a range of emotional reactions.

This is not the first time for such thoughts. In the late 1980s, GM, Ford, and Chrysler all lost money on each compact car. Chrysler changed that with the Neon and Cirrus/Stratus, which made hefty profits even while GM and Ford kept losing money. This time, though, insiders claim the company does not have the facilities nor the experienced engineers to make it happen; and even Ford now wants a partner for its sedans.

The earliest mass-produced cars included sedans, but many were the equivalent, in size and shape, of today’s crossovers — the area where Sergio Marchionne wants FCA to focus, at least in North America. Long, low, and sleek appeared as “the look to have” a few years after World War II, for 20-30 years; then the hatchback came into style.

Chrysler sparked a resurgence in the large sedan market in the early 1990s, then helped to rejuvenate midsize and small cars. The moribund large sedan market revived, and sedans in general gained a new lease on life.

Still, the popularity of the low sedan is recent and may be at an end. Ordinary sedans have been getting taller, with the 300 just two inches from the Nissan Juke and six from the Compass and 500L. The 1946 Plymouth was taller than any of them — and the Jeep Cherokee: 68 inches.

So why do many of us, including me, prefer sedans? Is it because they are lower to the ground and handle better? I don’t think so, given how most people drive, and the competent handling of most new crossovers (not to mention the popularity of BMW and Porsche’s crossovers).

Even gas mileage is not really penalized much now, with their larger frontal area countered by aerodynamic design, valve timing, and wide-range transmissions. They also have more space for the large batteries and other gear needed for light and full hybrid systems.

I have had numerous sedans in my life, no SUVs, and just two minivans; my only crossover was a PT Cruiser GT. Still, I can see the attraction of the crossover, especially now that everyone has minivans, SUVs, pickups, and crossovers, which makes visibility rather hard from a low-slung car.

I think the sedan will become more and more specialized over time. Two-door cars (including sedans) used to be extremely common, but they rapidly declined from the 1970s on, and now FCA US only makes the Dodge Challenger, Dodge Viper, Jeep Wrangler, Rams, and Fiat 500 in that form; and even in pickups and Wranglers, the two-door form is less and less popular.

I don’t think this presages the death of Chrysler or Dodge. The 200 and Dart (and Fiat 500) need high incentives to sell. Is replacing them worth delaying rear wheel drive cars for Dodge or large cars and crossovers for Chrysler and Dodge? Mr. Marchionne has a finite number of engineers at hand, and only so many factories. Paying off $5 billion in debt will earn the company more cash than building a new plant.

(I am very, very disappointed that Mr. Marchionne’s pledge that Chrysler would “lead” the engineering of future compact and midsize and large cars has been completely ignored and reneged upon.)

Limited resources, limited time, and a class of car that appears to be disappearing, selling only with large incentives … I can’t say I’d have been able to do anything different.

Or… it’s another trial balloon or an attempt to mis-lead competitors. We are talking about Sergio Marchionne, after all; and his announcements tend not to be set in stone.

Update: When buyers choose sedans, they almost invariably choose imports. Of the top ten 2015 best sellers in the US, there were no American sedans — Camry, Corolla, Accord, Civic and Altima accompanied two imported crossovers (CR-V and RAV4) and the three American pickups. The best selling cars (Camry and Corolla) combined barely outsold Ford’s pickups. In Europe, Fiat’s Panda has grown to challenge its best-seller, the 500; while the 500X, in its first year, nearly matched the declining Punto (both were beaten by the 500L). Fiat’s sales in Europe, 500 aside, are heavily biased in favor of crossovers, vans, and utilities. The same is not true for everyone — over half of Ford’s sales are the Fiesta and Focus.

As read on: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2016/02/crossovers-replacing-sedans-back-to-the-past-31159

12 Pickups That Revolutionized Truck Design

Trucks are thought of by many as being crude, primitive, agricultural implements with a bouncy ride and poor fuel economy—and they’re considered by the hybrid-driving elites as being generally inferior transportation implements. But if you live in a wood-frame house, have had plumbing or electrical work done, or have filled your tank with gasoline—among many other modern-day conveniences—you can thank pickups for facilitating the “American way of life.”

Whether from a standpoint of head-turning good looks, historical significance, or impressive engineering, we’ve picked out 12 pickups from the past century that changed the pickup game for the better.

1988 Chevrolet/GMC C/K Series
The styling of the ’88 to ’98 General Motors GMT400 trucks may seem sparse and plain by today’s “bigger is better” standards, but that simplicity and elegance is precisely why it’s one of the most popular body styles for truck customizers. Still looking modern more than a quarter-century later, the ’88 GM trucks suddenly made all of their competitors look dated overnight. Unfortunately, the boxy, angular dashboard design of the early models did not age as well as the exterior, but the clean lines of these trucks make them modern-day classics.

1994 Dodge Ram
Whether or not you’re a fan of the chunky, in-your-face styling of today’s pickups, you can thank Dodge for kicking the trend into high gear with the introduction of the ’94 Ram. Inspired by “big rig” Class 8 trucks, the ’94 model had an oversized grille and dropped fenders, mimicking the front end of big rigs. Especially among current HD trucks, the ’94 Ram’s influence can be seen in the large, prominent grilles common today. The ’94 was also significant in that it was the debut of the 8.0L Magnum V-10 in 2500- and 3500-series trucks. Its output of 300 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque is relatively modest by today’s standards, but at the time, it was the most powerful gasoline engine you could get in a truck.

1946-1947 Hudson Pickup
The Hudson brand may no longer be with us, but we can thank the icon of Detroit’s golden age for giving us one of the most stunningly beautiful pickups ever made. Following World War II, Hudson debuted its ’46 model pickup. Its sleek, low-profile lines reflected its primarily car underpinnings, and Hudson’s dedication to its car line and transition to its 1948 “Step Down” chassis marked the end for the handsome truck. The truck was also famous for its “three on the tree” column-mounted manual transmission when most trucks still had a floor-mounted shifter. Only a little more than 6,000 trucks were made in ’46 and ’47, making current-day examples extremely rare. We would love to see one of these get the restomod treatment, but we also somewhat wince at the idea of tampering too much with such an elegant design.

1999 Ford Super Duty Series
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and although the ’99 Super Duty may not subjectively be the best-looking truck on this list, it earns its spot by decisively defining the modern HD truck market. Prior to the introduction of the Super Duty, HD truck design largely mimicked that of the lighter-duty ½-ton trucks, with the only giveaways being eight-lug wheels, heavier-duty frames, and beefier drivetrain and suspension components. The Super Duty gave Ford’s HD models a completely distinct identity from the lighter-duty F-150, and a brawny look to match its capabilities. Ford debuted a V-10 of its own on the ’99 Super Duty in the form of a 6.8L V-10, a version of which is still sold in the F-650 and its cab-chassis E-Series vans. Early diesel models were equipped with the well-regarded and generally reliable 7.3L Power Stroke, based on an International Harvester engine design.

1939 Studebaker Coupe Express
The Studebaker Coupe Express was in some ways the spiritual predecessor of the ’46 Hudson with its sleek, low-slung styling. The ’37 model was attractive in its own right, but the ’39 model had a decisively more modern look, with fender-mounted headlights. Adding to the iconic look was a front-fender-mounted spare tire, rounded roof, and pontoon front and rear fenders. The M-series truck, which succeeded the Coupe Express, had a unique style of its own, but its blunter, more upright profile lacked the head-turning style of the Coupe Express.

1967 Chevrolet/GMC C/K Series
The ’67 to ’72 C/K series truck represented many firsts for General Motors’ pickups, including the first use of the renowned 350-cubic-inch Chevrolet small-block V-8 in trucks, the first GM truck to offer standard front disc brakes in 1971, and rear coil spring suspension (more than four decades before the introduction of the ’09 Ram 1500). The year 1968 marked the debut of the Chevy Blazer sport-utility based on the C/K platform, and its companion, the GMC Jimmy. The successor third-generation C/K trucks had a much longer model run than the short five years for the second-gen, but we give the nod to the ’67 to ’72 for the sheer number of innovations that debuted with that generation.

1940-1941 Ford Pickup
Debuting just before the onset of World War II, the ’40 and ’41 Ford pickups were a meaningful improvement over their predecessors, with a wider cab, sealed-beam headlights, and mattress-type seat springs for improved comfort. Although still nominally based on Ford’s car models, the trucks’ frames were made from heavier 10-gauge steel. Most of these trucks were equipped with Ford’s 90hp flathead V-8, although some models had a four-cylinder tractor engine, and some a straight-six from Ford’s car line. The handsome styling of E.T. “Bob” Gregorie’s iconic design makes this truck especially sought after among both vintage collectors and customizers. Due to the disruption of World War II, the pickup carried on largely unchanged until the introduction of the F-Series in 1948.

1946 Dodge Power Wagon
When you say “Power Wagon” among millennial truck enthusiasts, the ’05 model immediately springs to mind. No disrespect to the modern-day rendition, which is also among one of our favorite trucks, but it’s not the original. That distinction goes to the ’46 model, a civilian adaptation of the Dodge WC-series military trucks. Powered by a 230-cubic-inch flathead six-cylinder, the Power Wagon certainly won’t win any pink slips at the dragstrip, but with its low-range transfer case and four-speed manual transmission, there were few trails the Power Wagon couldn’t conquer. The original WM-300 series model sold into the early ’60s, when it was replaced by the “sweptline” body. In addition to the pickup, ambulance, “carryall,” and other variants were produced, making the Power Wagon suitable for almost any utilitarian purpose.

1955 Chevrolet/GMC “Task Force” Series
The ’55 Chevrolet and GMC trucks made our list for being one of the most popular body styles among classic truck restorers and customizers—and for being the first GM truck to offer the venerable small-block V-8 from the factory. This generation also saw the debut of factory air conditioning and a factory-installed four-wheel-drive conversion. Among the memorable variants of this generation are the Chevrolet Cameo, GMC Suburban Carrier, and Chevrolet Apache. The Cameo is credited with introducing the “fleetside” flush-mounted outer bedsides, concurrently with the Ford “styleside” to the truck market.

1956 Ford F-100 “Big Window”
Although the Ford F-Series itself dates back to 1948, the second-generation model deserves credit for setting the stage for the future of the F-Series lineup. The second-gen F-Series marked the beginning of the use of three-digit numerical designations for trucks, such as the F-100, F-250, and F-350. It also marked the transition from Ford’s well-proven flathead V-8 to the new “Y-Block” overhead-valve V-8. One of the most sought-after examples of this generation is the ’56 model, known by many as the “big window” version, for its large wraparound rear window. Seatbelts were also first offered as an option on the ’56 model.

2015 Ford F-150
The 2015 F-150 gets a place on our list for being the first all-aluminum-bodied truck, a radical change in the traditionally conservative segment. The only non-aluminum piece of the body of any significance is the firewall. Showing Ford’s confidence in its choice of material, all the outer fenders, as well as the bed, are made of military-grade aluminum. Incognito testing in some rough environments like mining and oil fields proved the ruggedness of the material. The new F-150 is also significant for having the smallest-displacement engine of any fullsize truck in recent history with the 2.7L EcoBoost V-6. We were initially skeptical when we heard of Ford’s plans for this engine, wondering if it had the moxie to move a fullsize truck. We were pleasantly surprised by the announcement of its 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque—and even more surprised by its seat-of-the-pants performance—delivering a 0-60 time of less than 7 seconds in many instrumented tests. Towing capacity with the smaller EcoBoost is still a respectable 8,500 pounds.

1978 Toyota Pickup/Hilux
The lone import on our list earns its spot by being the model that singlehandedly forced General Motors and Ford to develop a smaller pickup of their own. Introduced to the U.S. market in 1978, the simple, rugged pickup offered no-frills functionality and soon established a well-deserved reputation for bulletproof reliability. Toward the end of its production run in 1983—just before the introduction of Toyota’s fourth-generation truck—the 2.4L 22R engine debuted. With a carburetor, it produced 98 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque, very respectable numbers for its day. The engine received fuel injection in the fourth-generation truck to become the renowned 22RE. It would be five years before Chevrolet came out with the S-10, and Ford with the Ranger. Chevrolet offered the Isuzu-based LUV compact truck starting in 1972, but it was the Toyota pickup that was the real game changer for the segment.

Read more at: http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/autos-trucks/12-pickups-that-revolutionized-truck-design/ar-AAbI0eu#page=13

Marchionne: Next Wrangler won’t be all-aluminum

The next-generation Jeep Wrangler won’t be all aluminum, according to FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Marchionne spoke to reporters at the SAE Foundation’s Annual Celebration last night. He was the guest of honor at the event where he received the group’s 2015 Industry Leadership award.

According to a report in today’s Detroit News, Marchionne said that company tests showed the costs of an all-aluminum body outweighed the weight-saving benefits.

“Because of the difference in cost, not just the new material but the actual assembly process, I think we can do almost as well without doing it all-aluminum,” Marchionne was quoted as saying.

The decision could have been fueled by the difficulties Ford Motor Company faced in producing the latest-generation F-150 pickup. The problems, including the tearing of aluminum body panels in the stamping process, caused delays and constrained early deliveries of Ford’s moneymaker.

The announcement could boost the prospects for Toledo, Ohio, which is spending millions of dollars trying to keep Wrangler production in the city.

Marchionne didn’t give any hints, but said Toledo is one of just two sites being considered for the next-generation of the Wrangler.

During his comments, Marchionne also spoke about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) latest actions.

“We need to work with the agency in a very cooperative and open way to make sure that we can meet their requirements for their new stance,” Marchionne said. “We have no option but to comply with their requirements and we will. I have nothing to hide in this process. I just want clear rules.”

He said the agency’s increasingly aggressive stance will increase automakers’ costs as they try to meet new demands; and that he will not be testifying at the NHTSA’s public hearings scheduled for July 2.

Speaking about the new Jeep Renegade, Marchionne confirmed that several issues, including some software problems, were limiting availability of the Italian-built small Jeep.

Read more at: http://allparnews.com/index.php/2015/05/marchionne-next-wrangler-wont-be-all-aluminum-28735

The 2015 Nissan Murano goes head-to-head with the Ford Edge

If you decide that you want a stylish, roomy mid-size utility vehicle—one that drives like a car—and you don’t need a third row, or any rugged pretense, then the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano are two of the better picks on the market. And if you narrow your priorities to vehicles that look conceived for adults—not just as rolling cribs and diaper bins—then the Murano and Edge stand atop an even smaller list.

Both models are indeed stylish, mature, and sophisticated, but in very different ways. The Murano wears an especially bold face, with the new corporate ‘V-motion’ grille and boomerang headlights and taillights that frame some especially handsome contouring. Inside, the Murano has a swoopy, V-shaped design that’s equally radical, and distinct trims verge away from the woodgrain, piano-black plastic, and excessive brightwork that’s so common in premium interiors. The Edge, on the other side, looks sporty and athletic, with its contours and details feeling carefully calculated to fit right in with Ford’s existing lineup. On the inside, the Ford hits all the right cues for sporty and premium, although we think the Murano’s distinct look inside and out gives it a solid advantage in styling.

Performance-wise, these two models are polar opposites as well. While the Ford Edge now relies mostly on turbocharged, so-called EcoBoost engines and six-speed automatic transmissions—a non-turbo V-6 is there as more of a token offering—the Murano goes a more traditional route underhood, with a naturally aspirated V-6 the sole engine for the lineup. In the Murano, it’s paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that does its job in keeping engine revs under control while all you notice is plenty of acceleration on tap when you need it—with little of the rubber-band responses that plagued former CVTs. On the other hand, you’re much more aware of the powertrain in the Edge, as it has crisp, well-coordinated shifts. And hold on before you think you’re getting a much more fuel-efficient vehicle with the EcoBoost Edge; it’s a virtual tie against the V-6 Murano.

Ride and handling is very different between these two, with the Edge offering a rather firm but muted feel—more in line with German luxury crossovers, really—while the Murano has an equally quiet yet more plush ride that makes it a closer counterpoint to the Lexus RX. The Edge has a serious edge in handling, we think, as its precise steering and well-tuned suspension allow it to feel like a lower vehicle than it is when the road gets twisty. But considering the Murano’s strong, unobtrusive powertrain, we give the Edge only a slight edge here.

One note: The Ford Edge is offered in a performance-oriented Edge Sport model, which adds a twin-turbo, 2.7-liter V-6, making 315 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque. With suspension and steering changes that bring a firmer, more communicated, plus serious appearance changes on the outside—most notably, brightwork replaced with a blacked-out look.

Inside is where the Edge and Murano compare most easily in an A-to-B sense. While the two feel (and are) a virtual tie when it comes to cargo space, versatility, and general usability, we have to give the Edge demerits here for its flat, unsupportive seats. The Murano’s back seats especially shame those in the Edge, with their excellent contouring in outboard positions, while in the Ford the frame of the Vista Roof can interfere with headroom for taller occupants.

Full crash-test results aren’t yet available for either of these recently redesigned models. Both of these models save some of their best active-safety technology—like Predictive Forward Collision Warning on the Pathfinder, or Lane Keep Assist and inflatable rear seatbelts on the Edge—for option packages on top-of-the-line models.

Feature-wise, both of these models are presented with a sort of two-pronged approach: with tantalizing value-oriented base models that offer an interesting alternative to smaller, more mass-market models, as well as fully-kitted-out top-trim models that match up against luxury-brand models in all but the badge. At the base level, the base Murano S comes with a bit more than the Edge—with dual-zone climate control and a decent apps-compatible infotainment system standard—but at the top end we’ll call the Edge the winner in the features race by a slight bit, as it can be equipped with things like an Active Park Assist system that will let the Edge park itself, even into a perpendicular spot, as you manage the accelerator and brake pedals.

Who’s the winner here? The Edge only has it if you place more weight on handling, and a more European feel (especially with the Edge Sport), or if you really must have the edge on technology features. Otherwise it’s the Murano, as its like-no-other styling, plush ride, confident performance, and very comfortable seating add up to something that’s quite compelling.

As read on: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1097256_nissan-murano-vs-ford-edge-compare-cars

Nissan Leaf Vs. Ford Focus Electric: Compare Cars

Suppose you want to enjoy all the benefits of a battery-electric car–the smooth, quiet ride, the strong torque from a stop, and the very low cost per mile–but don’t necessarily want people to point at your car because it’s unusual looking.

That might be enough reason to consider the Ford Focus Electric rather than the Nissan Leaf, which is by far the best-selling battery-electric car sold in North America.

The two cars offer somewhat different answers to the same question: What should a compact electric hatchback look like?

The Ford Focus Electric is all but identical to the conventional Focus five-door hatchback. Even the different frontal appearance it pioneered was adopted for the gasoline models this year, so now you really have to look carefully to tell an electric Focus from the regular one. Exterior differences amount only to a couple of door badges, and a charge-port door on the left-front fender.

The Nissan Leaf, on the other hand, is a dedicated design with distinctive styling–no grille up front and lengthy clear headlight units that stretch far back along the fender line and are are topped with aerodynamic fins. It’s an unusual and, to many, polarizing look.

One is a car whose design says, “Hey, I’m electric!” The other hides its plug-in running gear in an utterly conventional body shared with a gasoline compact.

The Leaf was designed from the start as a battery electric car, with its lithium-ion battery designed into the floorpan and the area under the rear seat. The Focus design was retrofitted for battery power, and so it’s heavier and less optimized than the Leaf.

Still, the two cars are fairly close EPA ratings for range and efficiency. The Nissan Leaf has been boosted to 84 miles of range, with a rating of 99 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent). Based on the distance it will travel electrically on the amount of energy contained in 1 gallon of gasoline.

The Focus Electric does just slightly better on both counts, with a rated 76 miles of range and a 105 MPGe rating. It also retains the good roadholding and fun driving experience of the stock Focus, and its 107-kilowatt (143-horsepower) motor is more powerful than the Leaf’s 80-kW (107-hp)–though the Focus Electric is also heavier. Both cars fit 6.6-kilowatt chargers (the very lowest-end model of the Leaf makes do with a slower 3.3-kW charger).

Ford’s electric Focus has a couple of drawbacks compared to the Leaf. First, it has no DC quick-charging ability, unlike the Leaf. At specially equipped charging sites, quick charging brings the battery pack to 80 percent of capacity in about half an hour–against four or five hours on a standard 240-Volt Level 2 charger for each car.

Second, the Focus Electric’s battery, charger, and onboard electronics greatly reduce available load space. The first 2011 and 2012 Leafs had chargers that stretched across the cargo bay between the strut towers, but the car was re-engineered for 2013 and ever since, Leafs have had cargo space roughly similar to that of conventional hatchbacks.

The Ford Focus Electric is built in Wayne, Michigan, on the same assembly lines as gasoline Focus models. U.S. Leaf models are produced in Smyrna, Tennessee, and powered by U.S.-fabricated lithium-ion cells as well.

If you’re considering either car, there’s another factor you should know: Nissan sells the Leaf throughout the country, and it has now sold roughly 75,000 of them in the U.S. Ford only sells the Focus Electric in selected states, and anecdotal reports indicate that in some of those locations, buyers will have to work hard even to get one that’s theoretically available. Over the last three years, Ford has sold no more than 4,500 Focus Electrics–not even a tenth of the Leaf’s total sales.

The base-level Nissan Leaf S model now starts at $29,860, with fully equipped models reaching toward the $40,000 mark. The Focus Electric has had its price cut twice, and now starts at $29,995. Both of those numbers are before any Federal, state, or local incentives, and both cars qualify for a $7,500 Federal income-tax credit and a $2,500 California state purchase rebate. Both Ford and Nissan have also offered $199-a-month lease deals for these models, which take advantage of the Federal credit to lower the monthly payments.

In the end, buyers need to decide if they want a low-volume, pretty-much invisible electric car, or a more distinctive design that’s sold in much higher numbers. Thus far, the market seems to prefer the latter–but if Ford ever decides to get serious about battery-powered cars, it’s cut its teeth on the Focus Electric and produced a perfectly good electric car in the process.

As Read on: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1075247_nissan-leaf-vs-ford-focus-electric-compare-cars?fbfanpage

Ram grille change no big deal?

Opinion/Analysis:  it seems to me that the uproar over the new grilles on the Ram Laramie and Rebel is a classic case of making a mountain out of a molehill: a task made more difficult because it starts without a molehill.

Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette and Allpar’s Daniel Bennet have written about the change, saying it’s a sign that the Ram brand is suffering from an identity crisis. Their argument is that Ram trying to further distance itself from Dodge by moving away from the crosshair grille and the ram’s head badge.

The more likely reason for the change is to let buyers know this is a new Ram pickup [as alluded to by designer Greg Howell].

How long has the Ram pickup used the same general grille design with only very small changes that most consumers won’t even notice? Since Ram became a separate brand five years ago? In fact, the same general grille design was used on the last model year of the Dodge Ram pickup.

Maybe it’s time for a change?

The fact the new grille’s first appearance on a regular production truck came on the top-of-the-line Laramie is an indication that Ram is looking to persuade owners of earlier premium Ram pickups to trade their old truck by making the new truck visibly different.

When I was young, grille changes were an annual event, making each new model distinct from those that came before. Automakers don’t do that any more, but a change after six years seems reasonable.

The use of the prominent “RAM” on the Rebel’s grille is similar to what Ford has done on the Raptor, which has a big “FORD” on the grille instead of a blue oval. It sets the special truck apart from other models.

As for the large RAM on the tailgate, name a pickup brand that hasn’t done this at one time or another.

In short, there’s no identity crisis required to explain the change.

As far as establishing a brand identity, I would imagine that if you asked most male consumers to complete the phrase “Guts, Glory…”, most would say “Ram.” They might even try to sound like Sam Elliott. That’s successful branding.

Worries about losing the classic Ram logo would seem to be unfounded. A look at the interior shows the familiar shield is right in  the center of the steering wheel. Considering that it’s much less costly to change a small badge than it is to change a grille and tailgate, one would assume any effort to rebrand would include that change.

Consider the ProMaster City. While the big ProMaster was already in production, it would have been easy to change the small van’s grille and badging. Yet the ProMaster City has Ram shield badges front and rear.

Now consider at the two brands’ product lines: Ram has pickups, chassis-cabs and commercial vans (ProMaster City is clearly targeted at businesses). Dodge has passenger cars, family minivans and SUVs. The only Dodge fleet vehicles are special purpose, such as the Charger Pursuit and the Durango SSV. There isn’t any overlap, even in the same showroom.

It was Chrysler, not Fiat, that originally pushed for a retail network in which as many dealers as possible sold all the Chrysler brands.

If anyone is worried that Ram is phasing out the Ram logo, the first question that comes to mind is “Why would they?” The brand name is Ram; what else are they going to use?

It’s unlikely that Bob Hegbloom, Sergio Marchionne or Olivier Francois lose much sleep over whether dealers or consumers call the truck a Ram or a Dodge Ram. FCA US and people can call it anything they want as long as it changes hands from the first group to the second group in large quantities, and Ram U.S. sales last year were the best since the all-time record year of 2003 and missed setting a new all-time Graham/Dodge/Ram sales record by just 9,583 sales.

In the end, the grille change isn’t a quest for identity or an escape from the shadow of another brand. It is a relatively inexpensive styling change made by a brand that seems comfortable enough in its own skin to try something new.

Read more at: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2015/03/relax-ram-grille-change-no-big-deal

Recap of both Exciting Ram Truck Announcements Made at the NAIAS 2015

The New Year may have just begun, but Ram has already hit the ground running with exciting news for Ram truck fans.

On Tuesday, January 13th at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ram Brand CEO and President, Bob Hegbloom, made two exciting announcements that prove Ram will remain a leader in 2015.

First, Hegbloom announced that the new Ram 1500 EcoDiesel (available March 2015) would now deliver an incredible manufacturer’s estimated 29-mpg highway. We know that fuel economy is the customers’ top priority, which is why this truck will provide the highest fuel economy among all pickups in the industry.

“The new 1500 EcoDiesel sets the bar even higher…and this truck will be great news for owners who tell us they really rack up the miles on their daily commute,” said Hegbloom.

Throughout the press conference, Hegbloom spoke about how Ram truck customers’ needs are specialized and purpose-based. Our truck drivers know what fits their lifestyle, and “if the truck fits…they’ll buy it.”

This was the strategy behind the newest truck model: The 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel.

The Rebel is a one-of-a-kind, off-road sport package that customers and dealers have been asking for, and Hegbloom explained, “Now is the right time to bring it to market.“

Hegbloom described the Ram Rebel as “a new breed.”

The dramatic, unique exterior styling immediately shows that the Ram Rebel offers something different. “It’s a truck built and styled for people who push back, whenever they hear those despised words: you can’t,” said Hegbloom.

Instead of the crosshair grille you’d expect, the Ram Rebel sports a bold, blacked-out grille that frames the prominent billet silver “Ram.” The all-new face incorporates LED fog lamps, front tow hooks, a durable, black powder-coated bumper, and projector headlamps.

For added strength, sport-performance, and traction, the Ram 1500 Rebel rides on 33-inch Toyo all-terrain tires.

The Ram-stamped tailgate and blacked-out badging let others know who the leader is on the road.

Like the outside of the truck, the inside is bold and rugged. The durable, unique seats feature inserts embossed with the actual Toyo tread pattern. The Ram Rebel features an all-new center console, and a heated steering wheel that will help drivers dominate both on and off the road.

“With its distinctive good looks, high-value contenting and true full-size truck capability…it’s the perfect vehicle for people who always push the limits, and push themselves to squeeze more enjoyment out of life,” said Hegbloom.

We listen to what truck owners want, and then we put everything we have into delivering it, always pushing what’s possible. We couldn’t be more excited to give you another truck so you can take living the “Ram Life” to a whole new, rebellious level.

Read more of this article at: http://blog.ramtrucks.com/trucks/ram-1500/two-exciting-ram-truck-announcements-made-naias-2015/

The dual-minivan plan, revisited

Rumors from Windsor suggested first that the current “RT” minivan body would continue for some years alongside the new “RU,” and then that it would be dropped as soon as the new designs came out — in Chrysler form only.

Where is Reid [Bigland]? If it was up to Reid, we’d be manufacturing up until 2250. There are technical reasons why that car cannot be sold for a much longer period of time than the current time. There are regulations that are coming into effect in 2017 that are going to restrict or are going to require a substantial amount of investment into the old architecture to make the problem go away. Or they’re just not assailable.

That, plus the combination of some of the inherent inefficiency of the architecture and the powertrain, will make the car just not square, to square the numbers. We’ll try to keep it alive as long as we can.

As for the next generation minivans:

Oh it’s done, yes. We’re tuning up now . . . there are bodies that are meandering around Auburn Hills out of the pilot plant. The parts are visible….You’ll see it at the show on January ’16.

As read on: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2015/01/the-dual-minivan-plan-revisited

2015 North American International Auto Show

The 2014 Show

NAIAS 2014 featured 50 vehicle debuts with the majority being worldwide. Over 5,000 journalists attended from 60 countries. Over 30 percent of the journalists were international, thus helping to spread automotive news made at NAIAS 2014 to the world. NAIAS is uniquely positioned to be four shows in one – a media preview, an industry preview, a charity preview and a public show with a 9-day run.

2015 Show Dates:

Press Preview – January 12-13, 2015

The North American International Auto Show 2015 is where the global automotive community comes together to catch up on the latest news and events. Join your peers from around the world at the industry’s most substantive annual event. In addition to some of the automotive world’s most eagerly anticipated new vehicle premieres, you’ll gain unprecedented access to more of the industry’s top leaders and thinkers than anywhere else in the hemisphere.

NAIAS issued media credentials are required to attend.

Industry Preview – January 14-15, 2015

Connect with automotive professionals representing almost 2,000 companies and share insights with over 28,000 of your peers. Make new connections. Forge new alliances. Be inspired to lead and succeed. This unique networking opportunity brings together the latest automotive products and services with the key minds behind them all under one roof.

Charity Preview – January 16, 2015

Enjoy the first views of the spectacular North American International Auto Show 2015. Charity Preview is your opportunity to be a part of one of the most exclusive, high profile events in the nation.

Proceeds directly benefit a wide range of children’s charities. Funds raised will support services for children of all ages from birth to 18. Since 1976, the Charity Preview has raised more than $91 million for southeastern Michigan children’s charities – over $47 million of which was raised in the last 10 years alone.

Public Show – January 17-25, 2015

Experience the next generation of transportation at the North American International Auto Show 2015. See more than 500 vehicles on display, representing the most innovative designs in the world and experience North America’s largest and most prestigious automotive showcase.

As read on: http://www.naias.com/2015-show/overview.aspx