New Ram Chief Talks Trucks and Aluminum

7 Ram 3500 air II

We recently had the chance to sit down with Bob Hegbloom, the new Ram Truck and Commercial CEO and President, during a media lunch that took place at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich, last week. Hegbloom discussed trucks, quality issues and customer wants. Here are some of the key take-aways.

  • When asked about an SRT Ram Hellcat pickup truck or something similar to the supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi offerings for the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat (600-plus horsepower) and Charger SRT Hellcat (707 hp), Hegbloom said that at this point FCA sees other vehicles and segments that need attention. We noted that he said, "at this point."
  • In order for Ram to offer a smaller, midsize or compact pickup truck, it would need to deliver in four key areas: It would need to be much smaller than the full-size Ram pickups, still offer capability, deliver more than 30 mpg combined and be priced below the full-size pickups. It's worth noting that the former Dodge Dakota didn't really hit any of those characteristics: It was big, thirsty and pricey to produce. Fuel prices did not cooperate either.
  • When asked about Ram's recent dismal reliability scores from Consumer Reports Auto Survey, Hegbloom discussed the advanced technology now in the typical new pickup, like Wi-Fi hotspots and new touch-screen technologies, adding that some new-truck buyers haven't driven a new truck for 10 years or more. He suggested that some buyer dissatisfaction may be attributable to owners needing to get comfortable with technology.
  • Hegbloom has been with Chrysler for all of his 28-year career and he's been with or close to the truck lineup for most of those years. He was with Fred Diaz when the Ram truck brand was created in 2010 and was instrumental in pushing for a separate Ram commercial brand as well. Hegbloom also acted as Reid Bigland's right-hand man when he took over the pickup division. Hegbloom said he'll stick to the Ram's five-year plan announced last year, which means a Ram 1500 update for 2015, a 2500/3500 refresh for 2016, a major update for the Ram 1500 in 2017 and in 2018 for the 2500/3500.
  • Hitting the coming EPA corporate average fuel economy targets will be difficult without hybrid technology for the Ram 1500 pickup, but it won't be impossible, Hegbloom said. He added that Ram is comfortable focusing on technology to hit those numbers instead of doing something customers aren't asking for, like making trucks out of aluminum. "Although aluminum is a good manufacturing play for fuel economy, we're shooting to hit our targets with technology," he said.
  • Hegbloom is happy with Ram's strong sales showing, likely to be up more than 20 percent over last year by the end of the year; he's also happy with the "conquest-to-defection" rates that Ram has been pulling from Ford and Chevy.
  • As to how long people will be willing to pay north of $50,000 and even $60,000 for pickups, Hegbloom said that Ram has seen astonishing growth in this niche during the last seven years on both the light-duty and heavy-duty sides and is likely to see high-end trucks grow even more, so Ram will keep the pipelines full. images by Mark Williams


10 Ram 4500 Snow II



Fiat is doing a better job with the pick-up segment than Daimler did with this brand.
I still think Iveco engines will find there way into Ram trucks across the product line.

Nearly all vehicles will be aluminum in the next 10-years. Get over it...

It is interesting the way ram is pushing back against aluminum. GM has responded very differently, all but saying "yeah aluminum is the way of the future and we're headed that direction soon." I think Ram just got caught with its pants down but wants us to believe it is using "technology" instead of aluminum to make trucks lighter, as if the aluminum uses less technology? Good luck with that. I guarantee behind the scenes they are scrambling. I predict ram sales will peak sometime in the next two years and then start to fall again in relation to the other two truck makers when people realize the quality still isn't up to par. For a long time I was predicting ram sales would increase after I bought my truck 4 years ago.

Also I'm not a big fan of consumer reports, but I believe they are right about ram still having poor reliability, and I doubt it has much to do with the fancy electronics. My ram is a beautiful truck inside and out. Looks very upscale. But it has had as many problems as I would expect from the old dodge models. There's a reason the old dodge trucks had a poor reputation for quality, and I have no reason to believe that has changed after my experiences. I won't be willing to trust them again for a long time. I have a current generation ram truck.

Gm locked in contracts for aluminum. Ford has locked up its need as well. Ram better not wait to long cause it's going to get more expensive to make the switch down the road.

Ram was strongly promoting more aluminum in its trucks and weight reduction 2 years ago and now they have to act like they have amnesia on this.

Just because Ford is using aluminum doesn't mean the whole world is going to it. GM sounds like they are in their trucks but it is yet to be proven and I'm okay with Ram sticking with Steel. It will only be a matter of time before the glued togeather Fords start falling apart and coming unglued probably while its hualing a 10 K trailer down the road.

Where the reliability on the 2500 Ram's is below average is the the fuel system for that Ram has for the Cummins per Consumer Report's breakdown on my subscription. Everything else is above average. Ford and GM and fuel systems for their diesel have been dinged for the same issues for the past few years, but have seemed to have it ironed out by now. I think this has something to do with the factor that GM and Ford have been using DEF for the past years, but Cummins finally started in 2013. The use of DEF allows for more power while still being emissions compliant, but that extra power changes the dynamics of the engines systems. Ford and GM have got their fuel issues ironed out by now and Ram/Cummins just needs to get theirs as well.

Let me clarify this comment....

"I think this has something to do with the factor that GM and Ford have been using DEF for the past years, but Cummins finally started in 2013."

Cummins has been using DEF on their non pick - up truck engines for years(since 2006), but just started using it in the Ram in 2013.

@Don, Dodge (or Ram), whatever that is, is just backtracking. They learned from Chevy who is notorious for that concerning trucks. Knock the competition or deflect the argument altogether until you can do what they're doing too. Dodge needs to get on the ball here with aluminum contracts though. It is the future just as Toycrusher pointed out above. It's Lighter, easier to repair than HSS which cannot be welded and generally even repaired, thicker for more durability like the old school trucks instead of tinfoil like Chevy has been using for years, and it won't rot away like modern Chevy's either. They need to get on it before they become like Chevy became. Remember when they got locked out of SFA contracts? Something which Chevy has been backtracking from for years now and has cost them HD sales. Just like Chevy backtracking from heated steering wheels, bed steps, and numerous other things. They're still backtracking on a Denali trim and auto 4x4 to protect GMC. Dodge is on a sales roll with their gorgeous new Dodge Ram. No need to let it slip back to Ford.

I'm done with Chevrolet but I've always hated Ford, yet admired their trucks for a good 15 years now. Both the 1500 and SD. In a case like mine, there's only 1 choice. Go to Dodge or cave and become a Ford guy. I'd rather be with Dodge just because of their history. They had the Power Wagon decades ago, they came up with the swing arm coil SFA in 94, they own NHRA IMO with the Hemi design from decades past. All of it just comes together for me. Still, I'm not buying a second rate rust bucket again. And if Dodge turns into what Chevrolet has become, I'll become a proud Ford owner for life.

Tech Vs Aluminum Vs Steel? Not a contest.

The answer is really All of The Above. Truck makers will need to utilize all of the tools in the box if they want to hit 30mpg.

If fuel prices keep heading down it is a major challenge for truck makers because so much of their engineering has been focused on this particular area of technology and customer satisfaction.

Papa Jim, oil prices will rebound. They must continue making progress with FE.

"a major update for the Ram 1500 in 2017 and in 2018 for the 2500/3500."

I don't see how they could afford it. They already have been discounting their trucks for so long, barely making any money. I guess that's why their selling off Ferrari. So they can keep selling that junk they call Ram, at steep discounted prices to win market share LOL!

@Southern Il Man
The current IVECO 5.9 engine, is what Cummins codeloped with
Fiat , now the 6.7 in the RAM and the CNH 6.7 in Agricultural equipment.
IVECO makes.a 13 Litre engine for a Claas 8 Truck. More of interest would be its specialised Trucks, such as Astra and Trakker, they do not exist in the US

Fiat Chrysler Earnings: Profits Rise on Strong Ram and Jeep Sales.

I think Ram will go with the new steel on their later model trucks.

Volkswagen Replaces Aluminum With Steel To Save Weight And Money.

This whole article if read highlights the fact that a pickup is no longer a work truck.

Many like to think so, many like to think they are the blue collared middle class.

Looking at all of the comment made by Bob Hegbloom he talks of a car like vehicle, not a truck.

Aluminium in a truck does and will work, but will the cost warrant it's use?

I do see so many pro-aluminium pickup comments by the less than educated in our society.

I do think FCA will not invest massive amounts of money like the large gamble Ford has taken with the F Series to see little if no return.

It's about making money.

Has anyone bothered to ask is there another way to build vehicles with very similar capabilities as a US full size half ton and gain better FE.

I do think there is. But regulatory controls prevent this from occurring by denying competition in many of the US's vehicle related industries from oil/energy to vehicle manufacturing.

The shackles should be loosened on the US vehicle industry so it can compete and provide the consumer with what they want and not what industry, unions and government dictate.

This is called freedom of choice.

" He suggested that some buyer dissatisfaction may be attributable to owners needing to get comfortable with technology."

All makes are using this kind of tech. He is blaming dumb buyers instead of the product?

I just don't get all the non aluminum talk. Aluminum has been used in aviation, shipping, exotic cars, etc etc etc. All of these have been bonded and riveted in the past and the agents a getting better. Why would anyone think that they are junk? Go look at the new F150 - the entire body is thicker and lighter than the last one. I had a 2010 Ford and now a 2013 Ram 2500 diesel. Both of these trucks are using "thin" high strength steel, and although strong it does dent easy and let a lot of road noise in. The new F150 is quieter (ride and drive event) and should dent less. Great. I love my Ram but new technology means using everything available. I haven't had any real technology problems. The screen has frozen a few times and was cleared by shutting off the truck and restarting.

Anyone who says that trucks are different from cars isn't following the market. Most people by a truck because of what it symbolizes or offers not because of their everyday need. This is why the prices keep going up. Technology and luxury are driving the market now.

Nothing wrong with aluminium. Except look at very piece of transport equipment you quoted, they cost a lot more to get into.

So it costs more to use.

This seems to be one area many of the "pro-aluminium" clan overlook.

Aluminium does have a cost advantage in a motor vehicle if the vehicle is driven enough, similar to a diesel, except a much longer pay back time.

Also, how many who comment on this site actually have left school or have a job?

A aluminium pickup will work and work well......if you can afford it. If not just buy a cheaper steel truck, see which one is better at getting work done. There will be little in it other than cost.

Where are Ford's FE figures for the F-150? This is why the push by Ford to aluminium went ahead, not as some discussed the payload advantage.

I wish they would talk more about how they are going to bring the price down so I can afford one! Total cost of ownership is way too high for me.

@Big Al

"I do think there is. But regulatory controls prevent this from occurring by denying competition in many of the US's vehicle related industries from oil/energy to vehicle manufacturing."

You say that like it is a bad thing. The US is NOT denying competition either. There is no law stating that foreign makes cannot sale here. All the chicken tax does is force the manufacturers to either pay a US/Mexican/Canadian worker to build the truck or pay the tariff. If these foreign truck manufacturers think there is enough of a market for their product then they will build factories here if they don't want to pay the tax so don't blame it on the US just because they have tariffs on imports just like every other country. The US is also not stopping US manufacturers from exporting either.

You also talk about competition. How can the US automakers that have to abide by strict labor and wage laws compete with some foreign manufacturer that builds their vehicles in some country that has such dismal labor and wage laws that it is practically slavery in comparison. One would think seeing what has happened to Australia with losing its last auto factory in a couple years that you would know that lowering tariffs just for the sake of wanting a more diverse market is not necessarily a good thing. I guess wanting more truck choices is more important than seeing your fellow countryman work over in Australia

I have better be careful arguing with Big Al. The last time I did, most of my posts got deleted and I couldn't use my name anymore.

I work for a large metropolitan fire department and many of us own diesel trucks of all years and all manufacturers plus we have a huge fleet of ambulances that we drive based on whatever the department purchases every few years! With that being said, we loved the ford 7.3 years and then bought hundreds of ford 6.0's and had absolutely nothing but problems with the motors on everyone one of them. Plus the interiors that we hammer were trashed at 50,000 miles! The insides literally fell apart! I ended up buying a 06 chevy lbz because everyone said not to buy a ram! After having my chevy 3 years and having glow plugs, wheel hubs, transfercase, ifs, trannyline, fuel line, overheat problems not to mention the interior fell apart all by 80,000 miles I looked around and saw that non of the dodge guys were having many problems.
Our department went to all ram trucks 3 years ago and the ones with 100,000 miles have only had minor def problems and the interiors are just a little worn but nothing broken!
I went out and bought a ram like a lot of other guys and we couldn't be any happier!
A lot of us are not bias toward any brand but everyone here who owns a dodge or "ram" has had the least problems of all the trucks!

You are correct the chicken tax does force manufacturers to manufacture in NAFTA.

But it also impedes vehicles from entering that might not have the numbers to manufacture. The VW chief even stated that it will not sell the Amarok in the US because the chicken tax makes it uncompetitive and there isn't sufficient demand to manufacture in the US.

He would know vastly more than you do regarding this issue.

If another 10 pickup/van/truck manufacturers entered the US market and sold 30k to 50k each year of those vehicles the cost to manufacture in the US isn't competitive.

So, the US consumer is missing out on quite a few manufacturers. The local NA manufacturers don't want anyone to gain a foothold. That is what the tax is doing. Stifling competition and the introduction of new players.

This is quite anti competitive behavior and reduces the economic freedom of the US consumer.

Your comment indicates you lack knowledge on the subject or you are looking for a "hit". Either way I'll leave my comment and have a nice day. Being All American or if you just Buy American will not work out. Just supporting subsidised jobs will not pay out in the future. It reduces living standards.

If there isn't sufficient demand then why would we need the product? Just like the chinese junk sold in australia, if the product was wanted here manufacturers would be building it here. If australia had done the same they might still have an automotive manufacturing industry instead of having to import everything.

Read the comment, no where is it stated that demand is sufficient to sell only to manufacture. I stated sufficient demand to manufacture the product in the US.

What could occur is a few of these imports gain traction and then manufacturing will move into the US.

The Big 3 don't want this. This would also reduce the price of pickups in the US.

@Big Al from Oz,
If you look at the site I recommended, you will see some more info

Didn't stop Honda, Toyota, BMW, Hyundai and others from building vehicles here. VW has quality problems, build a decent vehicle and it will sell. Some people just don't get it. Small trucks don't sell well here. Gas is relatively inexpensive and people like comfort and room over cramped and frugal. Apparently VW does get it. As does Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Mazda and other has beens. I'll be surprised if GM twins sell in appreciable numbers, preliminary results look like they wont.

The Chicken taxs doesn't impede people from selling trucks here. Either build a factory or pay the taxs. If you have a good product, word will spread and sales will go up. Look at all the people buying 60,000 plus dollar trucks here. price isn't a problem.

With oil prices so low, I see GM going bankrupt again in the coming years, as well as Fiat.

I do think the reliability is because people don't know how to use electronics, I see that all the time with people who buy new trucks with fancy stuff in them and them complain about all the gadgets that sometimes don't work due to user error

@Big Al

No, the chicken tax is not anti- competition because no where does it say that foreign makes cannot sell here. All it means is that if they want to sell here then they have to either build their truck here or pay the tax. IT IS THAT SIMPLE. Toyota has done it, Nissan has done it, Honda has done it, and even GM has done it by building a factory to sell their Colorado/Canyon here instead of at its global factory in Thailand.

If they don't think there is a market big enough to make a profit then it is fine by me. I will not sell out North American jobs just for the sake of more truck choices. That is just plain dumb. More truck make choices are NOT that important. Yeah, the US is may be missing out on a few more truck choices, but at least we are not missing out on the auto factories and the jobs they bring like Australia will be in the next few years. It is not just the jobs at those factories that are effected either. Their is also a huge list of jobs that support the auto industry like the railroad that deliver components like frames to these factories just as one example of many.

So you may think the chicken tax is a bad idea and is anti - competitive, but I totally disagree with you. I think it is a smart move on the US's part to keep jobs within North America. Any make can sell here as long as they adhere to the stipulations. These stipulations are no different than any other country so I don't know why you are saying that just the US is the bad guy. Basically the US is saying you can sell here as long as it is beneficial towards us in some way either through jobs or taxes. I see nothing wrong with that. If you do then that is fine since you don't live here anymore and you don't get a say so here. If you want to keep bringing up the anti chicken tax rhetoric then I will keep combating it when I see it. If you don't want to keep seeing my pro-chicken tax statements then stop with your anti-chicken tax and anti-US statements. IT IS THAT SIMPLE.

Hes mostly right on.

ESPECIALLY about the pointlessness of the "midsize" truck and the gem that could be the compact pick up and the metrics for making sense in that market.

Its not spoken here but eventually Fiat wont have a choice about whether or not to introduce aluminum to its truck buyers. Choosing to put it off for no and favor technology is their current set of tactics in the overall strategy. Eventually EVERYONE will find that they all will NEED to have active grill shutters, stop start, smaller displacement engines, direct injection, electric power steering, DOHC, Vari Timing, and the weight savings of high strength steel in structural components and aluminum everywhere else it will work. Some of these innovations/technologies/practices are more complicated and harder to perfect than others. I think its best to start early others think differently. Turbo(s)? Hybrid? Diesel? CVT? Split Rear? As a company if you aren't taking them SERIOUSLY you are wrong. Im not saying which are better than others but they all have their merits in the MPG battle and the worst thing a company can do is pretend they don't matter. Fiat and Ford are PROVING that it pays to lead on these innovations. GM is proving it doesn't pay to lag on them.

"This whole article if read highlights the fact that a pickup is no longer a work truck."

Posted by: Big Al from Oz | Nov 5, 2014 1:22:19 AM

You can still buy a Ram tradesman. Stripper model.

Trucks are so much more than just work trucks. They have all the luxury of a Cady if you choose all the bling. My new Power Wagon is going to have all the lux options. Alpine, sunroof, leather, duel climate etc.. Can't wait.

Unreliability issues for Ram! Nothing new with that statement!

Quality issues are the customer's fault.
Same old Dodge.

hey Beebe, I have brand new 2014 RAM 1500 Hemi. Love this thing so much. Yeah, Dodge trucks had poor reliability records in the past, but I've also heard plenty of people who had a great experience. I moved up from Toyota (yeah, I said "up", because toyota is still figuring out the full size thing, they owned small and midsize, from SR5 truck, to T100, first Tundra, and Tacoma, they are getting closer....). After watching all these years, Chrysler really stepped up their game, in all areas, and I was ready to give them a shot at my hard-earned $40K....I'm hoping they do me proud. cheers.

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