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Future models - Ram - 1500

We want Ram 1500, says FCA Australia

In demand: The next generation of Ram’s Ford F-150 fighter, the 1500, is the subject of competing importation plans by the official FCA Australia distributor and Ram right-hand-drive conversion specialist American Special Vehicles.

Two sets of hands up for next-gen Ram 1500 distribution in Australia

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Ram logo23 Aug 2017

By RON HAMMERTON

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia says it is pursuing its own business case for a factory-imported next-generation right-hand-drive Ram 1500 for the Australian market, despite a suggestion from independent importer American Special Vehicles (ASV) that it is looking to import Ram’s smallest pick-up from 2018.

FCA Australia head of PR and communications Lucy McLellan told GoAuto that FCA Australia was in negotiation with its Detroit head office about securing a factory-developed, factory-built right-hand-drive Ram 1500 for sale through official channels.

“The situation is that we have a business case for the next generation 1500,” she said, adding that the next model would be “a couple of years away”.

She declined to comment on the ASV move, except to say it had nothing to do with FCA Australia.

ASV – a joint venture between Walkinshaw Automotive Group and Ateco Automotive – showed a current-model V8-powered Ram 1500 Rebel at the 2017 National 4x4 Outdoors Show and Fishing and Boating Expo at Melbourne’s showgrounds last weekend, billing it as “a taste of its future in Australia”.

The company, which converts the larger Ram 2500 and 3500 to right-hand drive at Walkinshaw’s factory in Clayton, stopped short of confirming plans to independently import the 6.7-litre V8 Hemi Ram 1500 Rebel.

In a press release ahead of the show, ASV said the Ram 1500 Rebel would make its Australian debut at the show, and that the company was looking at a possible launch in 2018 when the 1500 would be priced under the 2500 and 3500.

ASV general manager for Ram, Alex Stewart, was quoted as saying: “With the Ram 2500 and 3500 now established in Australia and becoming a regular sight across the country towing the biggest loads, we are now looking at how we are going to expand the Ram range in Australia.

“The Ram 1500 Rebel takes the legendary Ram truck in a totally different direction from the 2500/3500, something that is self-evident from the totally different grille and distinctive rumble from its massive V8 engine.”

According to American reports, the next Ram 1500 – a competitor for the top-selling Ford F-150 in North America and a handful of other markets – is scheduled to go into production in January 2018 as a 2019 model.

This means that if ASV does launch the 1500 in 2018 as suggested, it will be the new model – the same one that FCA Australia has in its sights.

Possibilities include a punt by ASV that the FCA business case for the 1500 will fall short in Detroit, or that ASV plans to convert LHD 1500s until a factory-built version can be brought on stream.

ASV sources the left-hand-drive 2500 and 3500 from America under an arrangement with Fiat Chrysler New Zealand, which is owned by Neville Crichton’s Ateco Group.

The speculation about which organisation is going to get the rights to the Ram 1500 has been going since 2015 when both entities expressed an interest in importing the vehicle.

Code-named DT, the new-generation vehicle has been spotted testing in the US.

It is expected to have some lightweight aluminium exterior panels to save weight, but the ladder-chassis underpinnings will remain steel for strength.

Apart from the big Hemi V8 as promoted by ASV, the 1500 is expected to get a 3.6-litre Pentastar petrol V6 and 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6. A hybrid has also been mooted.

So far this year, ASV has sold 199 Ram Laramies in Australia, a 22 per cent rise over the first seven months of last year.

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