Five Minutes With Ram Truck's Reid Bigland

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To say Reid Bigland is a busy man fails to fully communicate how much he can accomplish in a day. He currently holds three significant titles: head of U.S. sales for Chrysler Corp.; chairman, president and CEO of Chrysler Canada; and president and CEO of Ram Trucks. Bigland started his management career with heavy truck companies like Western Star and Freightliner, but he's right at home talking Jeep and Dodge sales as easily as he is ruminating on the future of the pickup truck market. We had a few minutes to sit down with Bigland and talk about Ram trucks.

Sales Across All Brands Are Up

"This is the 100th anniversary for Dodge, and Chrysler Group sales are up 15 percent so far this year where the rest of the industry is up 8 percent. November will likely be our 44th consecutive month-over-month sales improvement where Ram brand is up 25 percent. … Dodge is up 38 percent … and for all practical purposes [Jeep] is flat, but that's impressive since we stopped producing our midsize SUV [the Liberty] in August 2012. And now we just started shipping the all-new Jeep Cherokee last month, so look for Jeep brand to post some big numbers coming."

Why Ram Isn't in the Midsize Segment

"Obviously we had the Dakota, and Ford, the Ranger, but those trucks have always been a fraction of the half-ton segment. … We've kicked around the idea for years of a lifestyle pickup truck, but although the vision of that style of pickup may be sound … the more we incrementally improve our half-ton, the more difficult the business case [is] for a small pickup. That truck would have to get realistically around 30 mpg and have a price point in the high teens. If not, I think we're going to miss that market and customer … why would you buy something that's less capable?"

Platform Sharing

"For us [when looking at something in that midsize pickup segment], we would have to find some existing platform if we were going to get into that … a car platform or crossover platform because of the economics, without using something that already exists, would be even more challenging than they already are. But the dimensions of that pickup would have to be quite a bit different … it would still have to do some amount of work hauling wood chips and other work. But that's difficult to make happen … achieving all the fuel economy, safety and other federal regulations is tough."

New Dakota?

"I look at the Ranger — that must have been a $13,000 truck — and there was a pickup that had 50 percent share at one time, and they couldn't figure out how to make it work. … Part of the problem is that we've done such great things squeezing efficiencies into the half-tons, with the new Pentastar, eight-speed trans, EcoDiesel, and it gets harder to make the numbers work. If 23 mpg and a base price of $22,000 can work, I'll take another look. … We say 'never say never', but there's nothing imminent, that's for sure."

Luxury Full-Size Market

"There's a fine line between having a classy truck and having a gaudy truck, and we want to continue give buyers the creature comforts they value but not put in frivolous or things they don't value. We want to be smart about the content we put inside our trucks … having expensive options is fine, but they have to provide value. … I really like the All Secure feature, with one touch it locks down the doors, tailgate and RamBox."

Ram's Biggest Challenge

"With so much product coming to market over the last few years, our biggest challenge is getting the word out on how good the new Ram 2500 pickup now is with the new big gas Hemi and coil-link springs. … Part of the trouble is that when you only have a 30-second ad … I need longer commercials to list all the improvements. It's rare that the same brand has the best fuel economy, best power, best payload and best towing of any pickup; it's hard to focus on just one truck."

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I have never driven the 6.2l, so I really can't make any comments on it, but all the guys I have talked to don't really like it. One of my buddies bought a 2012 F250 with that engine because he didn't want the diesel. He was towing his 5th wheel with the truck and 6 months after buying the truck he traded it in for a 5 year old Super duty with the V10, because they don't make the v10 in the F series trucks anymore.

I think that the 6.4l hemi has potential wouldn't be so quick to discount it. Your right though, it would be awesome to have a 440 hemi in the trucks.

I believe that it's possible that we could see the return of big block gas engines in the near future with technologies like DI and what not to improve the efficiency. With the mediocre reliability of modern diesels(aka Powerstroke and Duramax), the business case for big gas engines is looking stronger and stronger.

Lest anyone heckle me for what I said about the Duramax and Powerstroke, let me explain myself. I think that dollar for dollar, the Cummins will run longer with less issues than any of the other diesels. Actually every small tow truck I see nowdays is based off the Ram 4500/5500 with a Cummins. Even the medium duty Fords use Cummins. It's a proven powertrain, the name speaks for itself.

@Lou BC
I wasn't trying to classify the 6.4l as a big block, what I'm saying is that it's the closest thing to a big block as we got right now. At any rate why does it matter whether it's classified as a big block or small block? I think what I was trying to do was compare it to truck big blocks of the past like the GM 7.4/8.1l. Actually is should make similar hp/torque number to the old big blocks so I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion on the subject.

@hemimonster - it is possible to have too much truck for what you are towing. I've heard of guys tearing up their trailers behind the current crop of 800 lb ft diesels. It is possible because I've seen logging trucks walk out from under their loads when the trailer sinks into soft ground. The same thing can happen to most RV trailers or even toy haulers designed primarily for smooth paved roads.

Many feel that the Cummins is the most durable diesel out there but that reputation has been hampered by emission systems. A recent study showed that the best return on investment was from the Duramax powered Sierra followed by the Silverado. The Cummins Ram has the worst ROI of the 3 truck makers which is surprising considering Ford's problems with the 6.0. The recalls Ram HD's have had on ball joints may be a huge factor with that rating since I have talked to multiple guys who have had nightmare problems with Ram front ends.

@hemimonster - any long stroke motor will be a torque monster. I've never really looked closely at the bore and stroke on the 7.4 or 8.1 but I suspect that they were long stroke engines.

In the last PUTC HD shootout the 6.2 Ford was slightly faster than the Hemi 5.7 so I suspect that the 6.4 will steal its lunch money.
The 6.0 Chevy is hampered by the same shift programing that was evident with the 6.2 seen in the Ike II gauntlet challenge. It would rev then shift and bog. My brother has had three 6.0 HD's and all of them have had that trait with a 10K trailer in tow in the mountains.

@hemimonster - I must say that your comments and insights are a welcome addition to this site.




@The Real Lou (Looks like another bozo stole your name again)
What is this "recent study" that you refer to? Over what time period was it done? I am skeptical only because if it was done right when the Ram recall took place then of course it would show a lower ROI for Ram. Given the Powerstroke fiasco, I would be surprised that it didn't shatter Ford's rating in the study you refer to. The whole 6.0/6.4l powerstroke thing was what led to the demise of the Ford/Navistar partnership.

@The fake Lou
How about joining in the conversation. Stealing other user's names gets old and it gets people mad at us Ram guys. Try to show some maturity and you will get a lot more respect.

@HemiMonster - it was done in March of 2013 by University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

They do a good job of explaining how they came to their conclusions. It is a bit of a dry read. They looked at 3-5 years of data. The Cummins Ram ROI did improve from 3-5 years so if they looked at ownership for a much longer period of time, your personal observations may be born out.

"Hemi Monster" is the one who stole Lou's name originally and who has been spamming the site.

I'm playing good cop, bad cop.

Why can't Dodge make a new Dakota using the new Durango styling and chassis like they use to? Imagine the new Durango but with a pickup bed on the back. The new Chevy Colorados are gonna sell like crazy, it's too bad dodge can't see this. People don't need the size of the half tons, or the terrible fuel economy. Dodge pushes that the 1500s have good fuel economy but they DONT.

I own a short wheelbase RAM 1500 with the 3.7L V6, sure-grip rear axle, and 4 speed automatic. I could of had a Dakota but I got such a great deal on this truck 10 years ago that I bought the full size. To bad the St. Louis plant where it was built no longer exists. Chrysler could use the capacity. This truck replaced a 1988 RAM D-50 in 2003. I went to the dealer to buy a Dakota but, the wife said you always wanted a full size so why not get it.

@Lou, by "long-stroke" do you mean undersquare? (Where the stroke is longer than the piston diameter). The 454 and 460 engines are both over square, the only big V8 or V10 American gasoline truck engines I could find that were under square was the Chevy 8.1 and 5.4/6.8 Triton engines.

7.4 (454) Bore: 4.25'', stroke: 4'' (oversquare)
8.1 (496) Bore: 4.25'', stroke: 4.37'' (undersquare)
Ford 7.5 (460) Bore: 4.36''. stroke: 3.85'' (oversquare)
Hemi 6.4 (392) Bore: 4.09'', stroke: 3.58'' (oversquare)
Ford 6.2 Bore: 4.015'', stroke: 3.74'' (oversquare)
Ford 5.4 & 6.8 Bore: 3.552'', stroke: 4.165'' (undersquare)

@ Alex - thanks for the research - yes that is what I meant.

@Lou and Alex
When looking at stroke length and under/over square the length of the stroke itself is a consideration, even if the engine is undersquare. Like a large capacity V8, big block.

One must realise the time it takes for the combustion process. You can have a very large engine with fewer cylinders, but that means it will take more time for the fuel/air mixture to burn. Because there is more fuel/air.

The more under square and engine the narrower the usable torque band and vica versa the more over square and engine to larger the usable torque band.

Diesel is a little different than a gas engine in that the time for combustion takes longer. This length of time reduces the 'bang' effect that generates horsepower and increases the torque by providing a longer period of gas expansion within the cylinder during the power stroke.

So a small gas engine with many cylinders can have its tits rev'd off, whereas a large engine with many cylinders really can't. But also, rotating mass and other isssue's like cam grind, cylinder design, etc all play a role.

What I've just talked about is generally in the manufacture of mass produced engines. I do know a large capacity top fueller can rev out. But how volatile is the fuel?

@Big Al from Oz - under-square or the stroke being longer than bore size tends to have a lower RPM range but more torque across its RPM range. The longer stroke means a faster piston velocity compared to a "shorter stroke or over-square engine. It can't rev as high due to higher piston velocity. The longer stroke does yield more torque just like a longer bar on a ratchet yields more torque.
2 excellent examples are a hp/torque graph of a Ford 5.4 and a Chevy Vortec 5.3. The 5.4 runs out of RPM 800- 1000 rpm earlier than the 5.3 but puts out more torque right across its RPM band. Even after the 5.4 hits its peak and starts to drop, it still has more torque than a 5.3.

@@Big Al from Oz - did you read that story on TTAC about fine particulate and DI engines? It looks like DI engines may have to be fitted with particulate filters just like diesels. If that is the case, there is no real advantage to an engine like the Ecoboost over a diesel.

@The Real Lou
I just had a look at it.

I did see a person who claimed to be a chemist. But, he is assuming all particulates are carbon based.

I have also read an interesting article about this a longtime ago and I even think I mentioned this in one of my PUTC comments.

Apparently from what I've read is that the particulates from a gas engine are worse for diesels.

Regarding pollution controls the Australian government did a study and produced a working document in our Federal Finance Dept regarding the cost implications in adoptinng the Euro system.

From memory the emission measure of going from Euro III to Euro IV was an additional $50, going from Euro IV to Euro V was an additional $400 and from Euro V to Euro VI an additional $80.

But in reality the costs have been much larger. Particulate control on gas engines might cost a significant amount more than the figure of $68 quoted in TTAC.

There are several reasons. The EGT from a diesel engine is much hotter than a gasoline engine. This plays an important role in the catalytic process. So, what will the necessary temperature be to 'burn' these gasoline particulates. I do some research and find out what's going on with this.

What causes many of these pollutants other than CO2 is pressure and temperature, pressure equate to temperature any way.

I would like to see Detroit's response to this one. Are they going to try and protect gas vs diesel?

Also, like a diesel, direct injection increases power and uses less fuel to do so. But also more power equates to more pressure and temperature.

Are gas engines going to have to lower their compression ratio to try and compensate for this like diesels are doing and using boost for power gain?

That's why the Skyactive diesel is such an advancement for diesel, it's reduced the theoretical 15:1 compression ratio for a diesel to have the ability to have compression ignition.

Direct Injection of gas engines have allowed the compression ratio of gas engines to increase as well. This has an effect on NOx levels. DI reduces pre ignition by retarding the spark.

390hp Hemi
Eco diesel

Still, my old Titan keeps up with it and I get compliments everyday in how nice it looks.

"The King of all PU trucks"

Next generation Titan Cummin' to a Nissan dealer near you...
Yeah baby!!!!

Big Al you are completely incorrect. Diesels have much lower EGT than gasoline engines do. Also the real advantage to the skyactiv setup is going to be once it becomes more sophisticated and runs an Atkinson cam along with a high performance cam. That will allow an enormously high compression ratio since the Atkinson cam will allow a lower effective compression ratio at low RPMs, which is where preignition is generally a problem at low and not high RPMs.




I've never heard your name before. Out for a bit of a troll.

Gasoline is more volatile and aromatic than diesel, also the flash point is much lower.

The calorific value of diesel is higher and burns at a higher temp.

So explain to me how you can to your deduction.

Oh, I do and work with this kind of stuff for a living.

Big Al,

You are wrong. Period. Here is some reading for you:

You made several other mistakes above as well. Direct injection does not increase power (which you claimed), it allows a higher compression ratio to be used (which you also claimed) which allows a more complete extraction of energy from a given fuel charge. DI has nothing to do with retarding spark timing, DI reduces knock by keeping fuel out of the cylinder until immediately before ignition is to take place.

Gasoline engines are increasing compression ratios, not decreasing them, this is (as was just noted) due in large part to the use of DI. Your speculation of reduced static compression ratios is out of place and makes zero sense. Also your statement about the skyactiv diesels is confusing, and leads me to believe you do not understand how they are designed or their purpose. They are running extremely low compression ratios, not because it is particularly difficult to do (the technology has been around for at least two decades), and not because it more efficient (it is less efficient), but because it allows them to get around the arbitrary and stupid emissions restrictions without a dpf. It is an awful system that only exists due to a collection of lousy government regulations.

As I said above the true interesting potential of the skyactiv technology is to run both an atkinson cam grind and an aggressive performance cam grind with a very high static compression ratio and direct injection. That would make for a very fuel efficient vehicle with a high performance ceiling. Note this idea is not novel. You can find SAE white papers on this and many other interesting topics dating back for years.

You should double check your facts and be sure that what you are posting is accurate before accusing others of trolling. It just shows your true colors.

I love the RAM, a really nice drive and good hauling

Mr Bigland may be in a promoting role in this interview but the RAM product is outstanding.

I'm lucky to advise companies on fleets for a living and run comparisons all the time. Looking at what is currently available, RAM comes out ahead in nearly every scenario including total ownership cost.

I'll reserve judgement on the ecodiesel but on paper it looks solid. In my (non-humble) opinion, RAM makes the greatest effort to provide the best product. That may change in the near future (updated Fords), but lately no one else has brought a similar level of innovation to the light-duty truck segment.

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