2016 Ram 1500Enlarge Photo
A combination of changing consumer tastes and low fuel prices has automakers scrambling to launch new SUVs and pickup trucks.
One of the automakers betting big on the trend is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU], which is shifting its focus towards more profitable SUVs and pickups and away from cars.
And one of these more profitable models might end up being an SUV sharing a body-on-frame platform with Ram’s next-generation full-size pickup family.
The information was revealed to USA Today by Mike Manley, who heads FCA’s Jeep and Ram brands.
“You have the opportunity with a new frame for the next-generation Ram,” Manley said. “You have the opportunity to take a large SUV off of it because we already have a very, very capable frame today that is going to be upgraded.”
2009 Chrysler Aspen HybridEnlarge Photo
The first of Ram’s next-generation full-size pickup family will be a new 1500. It’s due in January 2018. An SUV spun off the platform would have to come after that date.
Interestingly, Manley said the SUV if produced would be sold under one of FCA’s other brands, either Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep.
Jeep is planning two new full-size SUVs to be badged Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, respectively. However, these are expected to be based on the unibody platform of the next-generation Grand Cherokee. This means that any Ram-based SUV will likely be sold under the Chrysler or Dodge brands, perhaps as successors to previous full-size body-on-frame SUVs such as the Chrysler Aspen and earlier generations of the Dodge Durango (the current Durango is unibody-based).
Manley also revealed to USA Today that Ram could get a mid-size pickup, a vehicle that would serve as the successor to the discontinued Dakota. It would compete with the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins, as well as a new Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] Ranger coming down the line.
“In terms of mid-size pickup for Ram I very much believe that that’s an opportunity for the brand,” Manley said. “But I have no definitive plans for that to announce today.”