New DT Series Ram 1500 is larger but 102kg lighter (version for version) thanks to a new frame as well as many aluminium components

New DT Series Ram 1500 is larger but 102kg lighter (version for version) thanks to a new frame as well as many aluminium components

The success of the new Ram 1500 is key to FCA. Should this high-margin pick-up become an even better seller than the old-shape model, it will see the final flames of what had once been a massive cash burn extinguished this year. Following a recent feature on Fiat and Abarth, this report takes a look at what else is in the pipeline for Ram, as well as for the Chrysler and Dodge brands.

This should be the last calendar year in which Ram's profits are soaked up by the need to pay down FCA's debt.

Fiat Chrysler has been on a long path towards its goal of becoming cash positive. Richard Palmer continues to shepherd the company ever closer towards an escape from the red ink which has bedevilled FCA since its inception.

It must be a tantalising thought for the CFO that this should be the last calendar year during which the firm's strong profits are soaked up by the need to pay down debt. 

The newly announced 2019 Ram 1500 is a strong signal to FCA-watchers that the US side of the business is more than capable of developing products every bit as good as those sold by its infinitely richer rivals GM and Ford.

This new pick-up looks so good, it could even be a product of the old Chrysler: innovative engineering and strong exterior design are back. And with them, what also looks to be a first rate interior. Happily, the Chrysler Pacifica was not a one-off.

Ford's market-leading F-150 plus GM's next Silverado and Sierra twins will have anything but an easy time from Ram this year. In fact, the new 1500 will have a big head start over the 2019 Silverado: even though it is also a debutante at the NAIAS, production of the Chevrolet will lag the 2019 Ram 1500 by six months. More on Ram division below but first, this report takes a look at the Chrysler brand, which now consists of just two models.

Chrysler

The Pacifica was first seen at the Detroit auto show in January 2016, with production commencing during the following month. It replaced the Town & Country, which had been known as the Grand Voyager in some countries. That name is used in China for the Pacifica.

This 5.2m long minivan is on a bespoke platform and there is also a plug-in petrol-electric variant. This, oddly, is not called Pacifica PHEV but instead Pacifica Hybrid. FCA says the reason is that prospects know what a hybrid is, but many think any car with a cord needs daily charging.

The Pacifica will be the basis of a large crossover due in 2021. The Aspen model name will supposedly be revived.

The XL sized minivan can be ordered in seven- or eight-seat formats (the T&C had a maximum of seven seats). Like its Honda Odyssey rival, a vacuum cleaner can be specified for some trims. And while the largest wheels on the T&C were 17-inchers, the Pacifica can be optionally fitted with sizes up to 20 inches.

The sole engine is a 287hp version of FCA's Pentastar 3.6-litre V6, and the standard transmission is a nine-speed ZF automatic.

The so-called Stow 'n Go seating works better than in the T&C. If child seats are fitted to the second row, these no longer have to be removed to gain access to the third row, as they will tilt. They are also easier to fold onto the floor as the front seats do not have to be shifted fully forwards to do this, as had been the case with the Town & Country. The seating system is supplied by Magna.

Some have claimed that FCA wants to give the Chrysler brand more crossovers and that the Pacifica will be the basis of a large model due in 2021. The Aspen model name would supposedly be revived. It would logically be built on the same line at the Windsor plant in Ontario. The Canadian factory also still makes the old Dodge Grand Voyager (see below), which is the twin of the former Chrysler T&C, which the Pacifica replaced.

What had once been Chrysler Canada has two vehicle factories, with Brampton dedicated to rear- and all-wheel drive sedans and coupes, while Windsor concentrates on FWD/AWD minivans and crossovers.

Production of the current generation of the Chrysler 300 started at Brampton in December 2010. This is now the brand's only other model and were it not for the C in FCA, Chrysler might well have been discontinued as a make by now. Whilst this may sound ridiculous to many, FCA has nonetheless been slowly killing Lancia, a division with a long heritage, not to mention continued success in the Italian market.

The 300 has been around for a long time, and may not be replaced, as its segment in the US is in steep decline.

The 300 has been around for a long time, and may not be replaced, as its segment in the US is in steep decline. The current car was a rebodying of the former model, albeit on a slightly longer wheelbase. It was launched at the Detroit auto show in January 2011 and reached dealers in North America during the following month.

Chrysler launched the 300 in North America with 3.6-litre V6 and 5.7-litre V8 engines but a 465hp V8 followed in July 2011 for North America's 2012 model year. This variant, the 300 SRT8, debuted at the New York auto show in April 2011. The five-speed automatic gearbox in all six-cylinder 300 variants was replaced by an eight-speed transmission for North America's 2012 model year (September 2011). The V8 cars retained the old transmission until the end of the 2014 model year.

A 300 Hybrid would be launched in the US in 2013, the company's CEO Sergio Marchionne told the media in January 2011 at the Detroit auto show. That project was subsequently cancelled. The 300 was also to be the basis for a new big, European-built sedan for Lancia. This model would also have been exported to North America as a Chrysler, Fiat Group stated in April 2010. These plans too were axed.

The Chrysler 300's twin, the Dodge Charger, was revealed at the Los Angeles auto show in November 2010.

A specially modified version of the 300C for the Chinese market debuted at the Beijing motor show in April 2012. This marked the return of the model as well as the Chrysler brand to that country.

The 300 may remain in production until 2020 and be replaced by a front- and all-wheel drive model.

There was a briefly marketed Lancia-badged version of the Chrysler 300, the Thema. This was discontinued during 2014.

A diesel-engined Chrysler 300 was launched in the UK and Ireland in June 2012. This was the same 236bhp 3.0-litre V6 as featured in the Lancia Thema. Chrysler-Fiat sourced this engine from VM Motori. The diesel is not available in the Chrysler 300 sold in North America.

The 300 returned to two other RHD markets where the former model had also been sold, in July 2012: Australia and New Zealand. However, RHD production ceased during the fourth quarter of 2017.

A facelifted 300 range was revealed at the LA auto show in November 2014. These 2015 model year cars began to reach US dealerships during the first quarter of 2015. The main mechanical news was the eight-speed automatic having become standard for the V8-engined cars.

The 2016 model year 300 was announced in September 2015. There were only minor changes. The same applied for the 2017 model year 300. For the 2018 model year, there are changes to option packages and trim levels.

There is some uncertainty surrounding the future of the 300. It may remain in production until 2020 and be replaced by a front- and all-wheel drive model which would switch to the Windsor plant, which is also in Ontario. The logic would be that it would share a line as well as its platform with the Pacifica. That though, raises questions about the fate of the Brampton plant.

FCA is yet to state where it will build replacements for the 300 and its other LX platform vehicles.

The 300 successor had been expected to use FCA's Giorgio rear- and all-wheel drive architecture. In May 2016, however, Sergio Marchionne stated that the replacement model might instead share the architecture of the Pacifica. This was also the first time that building the next model alongside the big minivan at Windsor had been publicly aired.

The company is yet to confirm where it will build any replacement for the 300, not to mention successors for its other LX platform vehicles. This led to rumours that it might simply let its big cars become ever more aged and then close Brampton. Alternatively, it had been speculated that the replacement models might still be RWD/AWD but manufactured at Toluca in Mexico.

In October 2016, speaking to analysts, Marchionne failed to mention the Chrysler 300 in the context of having a RWD/AWD successor: "The important thing for us was to preserve the uniqueness of the rear-wheel-drive offering that we have across four brands: Alfa, Maserati, Dodge and potentially Jeep. And that solution has been nailed down internally by focusing on the Giorgio architecture".

What Marchionne said is taken to mean that either the car will not be replaced or else it will shift to an FWD/AWD architecture. The latter outcome seems most likely, as the 300, as old as it is, still managed almost 51,237 sales in the US alone during 2017.

A new model could theoretically sell at an average rate of 70,000-80,000 over a 5-7 year lifecycle. It might be that the 300 replacement becomes a hatchback in the style of the next Buick Regal, although Toyota has not gone down that route with its rival, the 2019 Avalon. The platform and plant would likely be CUSW and build would be at Windsor. More on what fate awaits Brampton below.

Dodge

Cars

The Attitude is the smallest Dodge. It is a modified A segment Mitsubishi, the Attrage, which is the sedan version of the Space Star/Mirage. 

The Neon name was revived for a Fiat-based model sold in Mexico.

In June 2014, Mitsubishi Motors stated that it would be supplying a small sedan to Chrysler de Mexico from November of that year. The agreement lasts until the fourth quarter of 2019.

Mitsubishi has three Laem Chabang plants at its huge manufacturing complex in Thailand. The Space Star and Attrage are made in Factory #3, as is the little Dodge.

This Attrage-based Attitude was new in Mexico for the 2015 model year and facelifted for the country's 2017 model year. It is not sold in the USA or Canada. A replacement model should be exported to Mexico, again from Thailand. Build should start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Although not present in the US and Canada, there is also a Dodge in the Compact segment of one NAFTA market. This is the Neon, a name which was revived for a Fiat-based model sold in Mexico. The car is a restyled Egea/Tipo sedan. New for the local market's 2017 model year, the Neon went on sale from the fourth quarter of 2016. It replaced the Hyundai-based Vision.

In the US and Canada, the Dodge sedan range starts in a much larger form. The current Charger was revealed at the Los Angeles auto show in November 2010. It is a rebodied and re-engineered version of the previous shape car.

The base engine is a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 with a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 optional. A 465hp 6.4-litre V8 became available in the 2012MY SRT8 from September 2011. Dodge then premiered the 470hp Charger SRT8 Super Bee at the Los Angeles auto show in November 2011.

There are only minor updates for the 2018 model year Charger.

The Charger's styling is an evolution of the previous generation car, with the rear originally distinguished by 164 LEDs that formed the tail-lamps. The 300 sedan is the Chrysler brand's equivalent model. These two cars, along with the Dodge Challenger, a large coupe, are built on the same line at Brampton. There was once a Dodge wagon, too, the Magnum.

As well as the addition of the SRT8 derivative, the other news for the 2012 model year Charger was the arrival of an eight-speed automatic gearbox. This became standard for all rear- and all-wheel drive V6 variants but V8 versions retained the old transmission.

The 2015 model year Charger was revealed at April 2014's New York auto show. This was a major facelift and also saw ZF's HP90 eight-speed transmission, standard for all variants, rebranded as a TorqueFlite, a name from Chrysler's past. In North America, model grades became as follows: SE, SXT, R/T, R/T Road & Track & SRT Hellcat. The last of these is powered by a 707hp 6.2-litre V8. There were some minor changes for the 2016 model year. For the 2017 model year, there were also minor updates. The same is true for the 2018 model year.

Chrysler's five-year model lifecycles are a distant memory and the Charger is one of the more extreme examples of that. A replacement was delayed and delayed again, and the car will now instead have yet another facelift. That will be for the 2019 model year.

The next Charger will not be available until late 2020. It will likely use FCA's Giorgio rear- and all-wheel drive platform and is expected to resemble the 1999 Charger R/T concept.

The October 2016 announcement of plans to give the Brampton plant a new paint shop appears to have increased chances that the factory which makes the existing big Dodges will be used for the next generation models.

Even after a decade of production, the Challenger is still selling reasonably well.

Due to the sales potential in Australia, FCA is also said to be considering building the next Charger with right-hand drive.

Even after a decade of production, the Challenger is still selling reasonably well. It is effectively a two-door version of the Charger. FCA's US dealers banked 64,537 deliveries in 2017, which was 100 cars more than in CY2016.

This rival for the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro had its debut as a concept at the Detroit motor show way back in January 2006. That vehicle was powered by a 425hp 6.1-litre V8.

A limited-run 2008 SRT8 variant premiered at the Chicago motor show in February 2008 with a standard 6.1-litre Hemi V8 and five-speed automatic gearbox. Only about 5,000 were made.

For the 2009 model year, however, Dodge expanded the Challenger line-up with lower priced 6.1- and 5.7-litre versions. This 2009 model year Challenger premiered at the New York auto show in April 2008. The SRT8 model grade remained but cheaper SE and R/T variants joined it for MY2009.

While the 2009 SRT8 had the same 425hp (317kW) 6.1-litre V8 as the introductory vehicle, the R/T was powered by a 370hp (276hp) 5.7-litre V8 and the SE base variant came with a 250hp (186kW) 3.5-litre V6. The optional five-speed automatic transmission on the latter car also meant the loss of five horsepower for the 5.7-liter V8 while torque dropped to 398 lb ft from 400. The 2009 Challenger SE, meanwhile, came as standard with a four-speed automatic but for 2010, gained the five-speed Mercedes-Benz gearbox.

Apart from the gearbox update, the 2010 Challenger was more or less carried over. The 2011MY Challenger range offered the following then-new engine choices: 305hp 3.6-litre V6, 379hp 5.7-litre V8 or 470hp 6.4-litre V8. The last of these three was exclusive to the SRT8 392, a limited edition of 1,492 cars for the US and Canada only. The 2012MY Challenger was carried over, though there were some modifications to trim level names. The 470hp 6.4-litre V8 reappeared in another limited edition model, the SRT8 392 Yellow Jacket debuting at the Los Angeles auto show in November 2011.

A new edition of the Challenger SRT8 appeared at the Chicago auto show in February 2013. Powered by a 470hp 6.4-litre V8, it went on sale in North American markets from mid-year. The 2014 model year Challenger was carried over, though the Rallye Redline and R/T Redline variants were new.

FCA has added the 840hp 6.2-litre supercharged SRT Demon to the 2018 Challenger range.

The facelifted 2015MY Challenger debuted at April 2014's New York auto show. There was a new grille, a larger power bulge, projector fog lights, split LED taillights and a reshaped rear valence. An optional 'Scat Pack Shaker', brought with it a 362kW (485hp) 6.4-litre V8. This could be ordered with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed auto. The 707hp 6.2-litre V8 was another addition for the 2015 model year. Chrysler developed this supercharged engine under the 'Hellcat' project code. The 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat was announced in May 2014.

There were only minor changes for the 2016 model year. For the 2017 model year, there were some updates but none of them major. The main news was the addition of T/A variants and an all-wheel drive GT.

For the 2018 model year, FCA added the 840hp 6.2-litre supercharged SRT Demon. It had its premiere at the New York show in April 2017. Torque is quoted as 707 pound-feet (959Nm). Another addition for the 2018 model year is the SRT Hellcat Widebody. This has the fender flares first shown on the SRT Demon but in this case, the engine is the 707hp version of the supercharged 6.2-litre V8.

FCA has again delayed the replacement for the Challenger, meaning that by the time the new model becomes available, the outgoing car will have been built for almost 13 years.

Unlike the current model, the next Challenger should be available as a convertible too. A prototype of the Barracuda, a big RWD convertible, was shown to dealers at an event in Los Angeles in August 2015.

Production of the next Challenger should commence in late 2020 for the 2021 model year.

The car's architecture is said to be either Giorgio or that of the Maserati Quattroporte, Ghibli and Levante. Production should commence in late 2020 for the 2021 model year.

Crossovers, SUVs & minivans

The Journey (sold in China as the JCUV) is yet another long-lived Dodge model. The world first saw it at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show. This minivan-SUV crossover went on sale in North America in March 2008, production having started two months previously.

In Europe, the Journey effectively replaced the Chrysler Voyager and competed with the Ford S-MAX. In North America, the Journey is hard to categorise but many buyers would no doubt cross-shop similarly sized crossovers.

While some markets outside North America once saw a Volkswagen-supplied 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel offered, only 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 3.5-litre V6 gasoline engines were available in North America until Q4, 2010.

Following a facelift in November 2010 for North America's 2011 model year, the Journey gained a 173hp 2.4-litre four-cylinder or else Chrysler's 283hp 3.6-litre Pentastar V6. The Freemont, a Fiat version of the Journey, is built alongside it.

There are minor changes for the 2018 model year. Right-hand drive production ended during 2017, which also meant that Dodge (along with Chrysler) was withdrawn from South Africa, one of the brand's last remaining RHD markets. Exports to Australia had ceased some time earlier.

The next Journey, the project code of which is JD, is said to be switching plants from Toluca to Cassino.

The next Journey, the project code of which is JD, is said to be switching plants from Toluca in Mexico, to Cassino in Italy. This factory is in the town of Piedimonte San Germano, three kilometres from Cassino. This is some 130km southeast of Rome.

Originally expected in 2014, the new Journey has been delayed and delayed. The latest intelligence says production will begin in August for North America's 2019 model year. There will be an SRT variant for the first time in this model's history. The new Journey and its twin, the next Fiat Freemont, will reportedly share much with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

Production of the Durango, a big SUV powered by 3.6-litre V6 and 5.7-litre V8 engines, commenced in December 2010, a few weeks after its global debut at the Los Angeles auto show. The vehicle shares its platform and many components with the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Dodge debuted an additional version, the Heat, at the Chicago auto show in February 2011. This has the same bodykit as the R/T but instead of that trim level's V8, the Heat has a 5hp boost (to 295hp) for the 3.6-litre V6. The Heat is only available as a five-seater.

A facelifted model premiered at the New York auto show in March 2013. This 2014 model year Durango also brought with it an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

North America's 2016 model year Durango had new wheels and some powertrain changes. Speculation had suggested that FCA would phase out the Durango in calendar 2016, with no direct replacement planned. However, in May 2014, the company stated that the Durango would have a second facelift in 2017.

The next Durango should commence production in September 2020.

There were only minor changes for the 2017 model year Durango. The SRT was added for the 2018 model year, on sale from the fourth quarter of 2017. This derivative had its world premiere at the Chicago auto show in February 2017. FCA US announced other changes for the 2018 Durango range in June 2017. A facelift is expected for the 2019 model year.

The next Durango should commence production in September 2020. It will likely use the frame architecture and powertrains of the just-announced Ram 1500. Build will probably be alongside a Ram SUV of similar size at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) in Michigan.

The Grand Caravan, a big (and big-selling) minivan, had its debut at the Detroit show in January 2007. It is sold almost exclusively in North America.

Many years ago, there was a rebadged version for Volkswagen, the Routan, with a further variant for Lancia, the Voyager. The Lancia was sold in certain European markets between October 2011 and 2015.

Production of the Grand Caravan started in July 2007 in both the US and Canada but the Fenton plant in Missouri, which was eventually closed, stopped building the Grand Caravan in October 2008.

A facelift and a then-new 3.6-litre V6 engine were part of a mid-life update. This, North America's 2011MY Grand Caravan, debuted at the Los Angeles motor show in November 2010.

The then Chrysler Group used the launches of the 2011 model year Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country to try to prise the vehicles apart in buyers' perceptions. To that end, the T&C was priced higher and had more upscale features in the US market. There was also a sports version of the Grand Caravan, the R/T. The latter premiered at the Chicago auto show in February 2011.

The company announced at the Detroit auto show in January 2011 that it might not replace both the Town & Country and the Grand Caravan. The group also said it was planning a new front- and all-wheel drive platform for the successor model.

In May 2014, FCA told the media that the Grand Caravan would be axed in 2016 with no direct replacement. Ergo, the Pacifica, the Chrysler Town & Country replacement (Grand Voyager in some markets), would become FCA's sole full-size minivan.

FCA will continue to build the Grand Caravan until July 2019 as a cheaper model than the Pacifica.

North America's 2016 Grand Caravan had few changes. For the 2017 model year the range was cut to four trim levels and GT replaced R/T.

FCA will continue to build the Grand Caravan until July 2019 as a cheaper model than the Pacifica. Its lifecycle was extended by more than two years as part of an agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers' union.

Build of 2018MY vehicles did not commence until December, production of the 2017 Caravan having ceased in mid-August.

US sales of the Grand Caravan, which FCA sometimes calls the Caravan, fell by only two percent in 2017, to 125,196 units. An additional 46,933 were delivered to customers in Canada.

Sergio Marchionne recently stated (Detroit auto show) that he believes an eventual Dodge Caravan replacement will be needed. This was a 180-degree pivot from the company's previous position.

It is assumed that the successor will be closely related to the Chrysler Pacifica and therefore manufactured in Ontario at the Windsor plant. The platform would be SUSW. There should be a plug-in hybrid variant too. In theory, FCA Canada will soon begin planning to put these minivans into production in September 2019 for the 2020 model year.

Ram

Many forget that Ram doesn't only mean huge pick-ups.

Many forget that Ram doesn't only mean huge pick-ups. There is a relatively small one too, although it isn't available in the USA. The 700 was launched in Mexico, its main market, in October 2014. It is an import from Brazil and is more or less the Fiat Adventure Sporting with Ram badges. A replacement for the Fiat original is long overdue, which means that a new 700 is likely to become available as soon as the fourth quarter of 2018.

Speaking at the Detroit auto show, FCA's CEO Sergio Marchionne told the media that Ram "needs a metric-ton truck". The 1000 model name is speculative but it would be logical. This vehicle would not be for the USA, however. It will be manufactured in Mexico and sold in multiple countries as a Ram. That will likely mean the Middle East, the Caribbean, parts of Asia-Pacific plus Central and South America.

No release date for the Ram 1000, which would be a rival for the Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi L200/Triton, Nissan NP300/Frontier and VW Amarok, was given. How this model would relate to the existing Mitsubishi-sourced Fiat Fullback and FCA's own built-in-Brazil Fiat Toro, was not explained. It could well be that the supply deal with MMC will not be renewed and that, with its ladder frame construction, the 1000 would supplement rather than challenge the Toro, which has a monocoque construction.

The current Ram 1500 was introduced in September 2001. This pick-up and was then more or less unchanged until a range facelift in September 2005. Other derivatives had, however, been added, such as the Viper-engined SRT-10 Regular Cab which arrived in dealerships in late 2003, the four-door SRT-10 Quad Cab in June 2004 and the roomy Mega Cab, which had its debut at the Chicago show in February 2005.

While the 3.7-litre and 4.7-litre engines were unchanged for North America's 2006 model year, the 5.7-litre V8 gained cylinder deactivation. For 2007 and 2008, the Ram 1500 was carried over.

Warren Truck and Saltillo will continue building the outgoing Ram 1500.

The facelifted 'DS' Ram debuted at the Detroit show in January 2008 replacing the DR series. It went on sale in October 2008 for the 2009 model year. A crew cab was added to the light-duty stable, replacing the mega cab, which accounted for less than 10 percent of Ram sales in '07.

The 2008MY mega cab, 20 inches longer than the 2009 crew cab and too big to fit in most garages, continues to be available on the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 truck frames. The major engineering change with the 2009 Ram 1500 was a coil-sprung rear end, while the only engine to be updated was the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 which gained extra power for a new output of 390hp (291kW).

The gasoline-electric and (Cummins-supplied) diesel variants that had been expected for the 2010 model year were delayed, and in the case of the latter, cancelled.

In October 2009, Fiat Group created the 'Dodge Ram Brand', a new division, separating it from the 'Dodge Car Brand'. Dodge Ram then become, simply, 'Ram'.

The 5.7-litre versions of North America's 2012 model year Ram 1500 range gained more power, which was more or less the highlight of the changes for the new model year.

Chrysler launched a facelifted Ram 1500 at the New York auto show in April 2012. This update, for North America's 2013 model year, also included the first appearance of the group's 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 in the truck.

Regular Cab configured vehicles are produced at the Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant in Mexico; Quad and Crew Cab configured vehicles are manufactured at Warren Truck in Michigan.

A Ram 1500 diesel was announced by Chrysler in February 2013. Deliveries followed from February 2014 for North America's 2014 model year. The 240hp 'EcoDiesel' engine, supplied by VM Motori, is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

FCA confirmed in April 2016 that the it would shift production of the next generation Ram 1500 out of the current locations of Warren and Saltillo, and into Sterling Heights in Michigan. This is not the full story, however.

SHAP is said to have planned capacity of 325,000 units of the new 1500 in 2018, rising to 400,000 in 2019.

Warren Truck and Saltillo will continue building the outgoing Ram 1500. This will be sold as a cheaper model. Combined production capacity of 200,000 units is reportedly planned for CY2018 before dropping to 65,000 in 2019. Production would cease by 2020 as those plants are retooled for other vehicles. Sterling Heights is said to have planned capacity of 325,000 units a year of the new Ram 1500 in 2018, rising to 400,000 in 2019.

The older truck's model name is probably about to change to Ram Classic.

The next 1500, fresh for the 2019 model year, has just made its world debut at the 2018 Detroit auto show. It is nine inches longer and has a new frame which weighs 45kg less but retains its mainly steel construction. FCA US says that 98 per cent of this chassis is constructed from high-strength steel.

In changes to powertrains, both 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 and 5.7-litre Hemi V8 have evolved into mild hybrids so as to improve fuel economy. FCA US calls this eTorque. This means 48V electrics are standard. Added torque at take-off and regenerative braking are also part of eTorque. There is a belt-driven motor-generator powered by a 330Wh lithium-ion nickel manganese cobalt-graphite battery. The 12V lead-acid battery draws its power via a converter.

Production of V8 trucks is to commence by the end of this month. The V6 will be added from August and the as yet unannounced 3.0-litre diesel will come in 2019. It is said that EPA is taking its time to certify the diesel. The agency and FCA US continue to discuss allegations of emissions issues with the current Ram 1500's V6 diesel.

Compared to the DS series Ram 1500, average weight is down by 102 kg. Some of that is due to aluminium being used for the tailgate, engine mounts, front-axle centre, front suspension, transmission crossmembers and the electric power-steering system gear.

Chrysler claimed these trucks were new in 2008 but they were instead overhauled versions of the ones introduced in 2002.

The current shape Heavy Duty Rams were introduced in 2002 for North America's 2003 model year.

For the 2009 model year, there was a major update, with the same styling influences that distinguished the 2009 Ram 1500 evident. Chrysler claimed that these trucks were new in 2008 but they were instead overhauled versions of the ones introduced in 2002.

Though the standard engine is a 5.7-litre V8, Chrysler noted that some 80% of buyers of the '08 Ram Heavy Duty trucks specified a diesel engine. This is still a 6.7-litre Cummins unit. A new petrol engine, a 410hp (306kW) 6.4-litre Hemi V8, was added for the 2014 model year.

Body configurations consist of regular cab, Quad Cab, Mega Cab or Power Wagon.

Though the '09 Ram 2500 and 3500 did not have their official premieres until the Detroit show in January 2009, production started in July 2008. The '09 models had quite different styling to the Ram 1500s with the emphasis on large air intakes rather than aerodynamics at the front. The rear suspension of the chassis cabs and heavy duties is also via leaf springs and a live axle rather than the more car-like independent set up of the Ram 1500.

For North America's 2013 model year, there were further changes. These consisted of new headlights and a revised grille as well as new wheels. The 2013MY Heavy Duties had their debuts at the Texas State Fair in September 2012. Since the launch of the 2013 model year trucks, the 5.7-litre V8 has produced 383hp, while the 6.7-litre Cummins diesel became available with three outputs: 350hp, 370hp or 385hp.

In January 2013, Chrysler issued a document to the media which listed new vehicle introductions for the next few years. The Ram 2500 and 3500 were listed as being due for a 'major refresh' in calendar 2013. In June 2013, the 2014 model range was announced, with changes consisting of the addition of a 6.4-litre V8 and optional air suspension.

The 2014 Ram Power Wagon had its debut at the New York auto show in April 2014. It is Ram 2500 Heavy Duty 4x4 Crew Cab, but features a number of off-road-specific engineering enhancements, including unique suspension with more than two inches of lift, locking differentials and a 12,000-pound winch to "give the truck a significant advantage over all production pickups", FCA claimed. The 2015MY range was carried over.

For the 2016 model year, the 6.7-litre Cummins six-cylinder diesel had a new output of 287kW and 900 lb-ft (1,218Nm) of torque - an increase of 35 lb-ft (47Nm). In other changes, the 3500 gained a stronger differential case and 16 bolt rear axle ring gear for those variants which have the 11.8-inch axle. This means maximum towing capacity increased by 1,210 lbs (549 kg) to a claimed class-leading 31,210 lbs (14,157kg). There was also new Laramie Limited variant. This has a unique grille and RAM in large letters on the tailgate.

The provisionally named Ram 2000 will reportedly be built alongside the 1500 pick-up.

The Ram HD replacements are due in calendar 2020.

The Power Wagon had an early update, its minor facelift premiering at February 2016's Chicago auto show. The next generation model range had been expected in CY2017 and indeed what is now FCA US told analysts in 2014 that this would be when the trucks would be released. However, in December 2016 there was a media report which FCA did not deny, which claimed that the division had delayed the new models until early 2020.

The company told the media in January 2017 that the next Heavy Duty Ram models would be manufactured in Michigan at Warren Truck. The existing vehicles are made in Mexico at Saltillo.

FCA repeated the year-old news in another media release earlier in January. The company noted at that time that Saltillo Truck "will be repurposed to produce future commercial vehicles for global distribution".

In addition to the new '1000' pick-up is said to be planning an additional model for Ram. Details are scarce but the provisionally named '2000', a Chevrolet Suburban rival, will reportedly be built alongside the latest generation 1500 pick-up series. Production should commence at SHAP in 2019. It would also be related to the future Dodge Durango as well as the Jeeps Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.

Future model plan reports for other manufacturers can be viewed in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

Additional data on vehicle lifetime and future product plans, such as code names, production plants and expected annual build, are available in PLDB from QUBE.