The relationship between Ram and Jeep may seem like a simple one on the surface (Ram makes pickups for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jeep makes SUVs), but you can bet there is much more to this dynamic duo. For example, take the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel. Jeep got the little Italian-sourced V-6 for the Grand Cherokee last year. It received many positive reviews from the media for the power plant, as well as praise from Jeep enthusiasts who appreciated the low-end torque and vastly improved fuel efficiency.
Ram started shipping its highly anticipated Ram 1500 EcoDiesels to dealerships last March with strong success. From what we're hearing, the early ordering surpassed expectations and sustained ordering numbers could be as high as 8 to 10 percent. Not bad for a powertrain option that adds at least $2,850 to the pickup's price and $4,500 to the Grand Cherokee's price.
According to Automotive News, Mike Manley, Jeep CEO, says there's no reason at this point in the ordering and sales process to think Jeep will need to give up any EcoDiesels to Ram because of capacity restrictions. But what if there was? What if either Jeep or Ram had a runaway ordering frenzy? How would either settle or sacrifice its own need for EcoDiesel engines while knowing another brand in their stable is in desperate need of the engine?
At this point, EcoDiesel capacity seems to be a zero-sum game, meaning there are only so many EcoDiesels to go around and, for now, both Jeep and Ram seem to have enough to satisfy demand. But we could be getting an early look on how future disputes (like whether Jeep will be allowed to design and produce a pickup truck) will be resolved.
It was also recently announced with little fanfare that the heads of Ram and Jeep were given seats on the FCA board of directors, which, we were told, was to give their points of view a larger voice within the company. From where we sit, this is either one of the biggest (potentially huge) unions of power we've seen in a long time or one of the biggest competitions we're likely to ever see — all sitting under the same roof. How it works itself out or how Reid Bigland, head of Ram, and Manley decide to work with one another could determine much of the success (or failure) FCA is likely to encounter well into the next decade.
Will Ram get more V-6 EcoDiesel capacity from Jeep if the numbers start climbing, or will it likely get more EcoDiesels from the 3.0-liter inline-four-cylinder engine that's now available in the ProMaster commercial van? And will Ram ever allow Jeep to build a midsize pickup truck and possibly take sales away from a half-ton (or some other new) Ram? Who knows. Maybe Ram or Jeep will have to compromise or maybe the decision gets pushed down the road a few more years. Either way, there is much for GM and Ford to worry about, especially if Ram and Jeep ever decide to join forces.