Ateco managing director Roger Zagorski with the first RHD Ram 1500

Ateco managing director Roger Zagorski with the first RHD Ram 1500

Australia's Ateco Group has completed the first Ram 1500 pickup truck right hand drive conversion at its dedicated 'production' line in Melbourne.

The company earlier launched Ram 2500 and 3500 models supplied by FCA from North America and converted to RHD in Australia. These are done on one of four 'production' lines at HSV's facility which also converts the Chevrolet Silverado and Camaro for Holden plus HSV's own Colorado SportsCat truck.

The conversion facility - effectively disassembly/reassembly lines using as much local content as possible for parts unique to the RHD models - is a joint venture between HSV parent Walkinshaw Automotive Group and Ateco Automotive, a major independent vehicle importer and distributor. Some of the RHD Rams, and the GM products, are also sold in neighbouring New Zealand.

Ateco said the 2500 and 3500 had "have paved the way for Ram 1500" but the new truck takes the brand "into the heart of the premium ute market in Australia, with major advantages over its rivals, and so the volume expectations are on quite a different scale".

"The Australian designers, engineers and technicians on the production line, along with the [local] component suppliers with which we are working, have done a remarkable job on the remanufactured Ram 1500. This is a world-class vehicle of which they can be truly proud," said Ateco managing director Roger Zagorski.

The Australian specification 1500 has the 5.7 litre Hemi V8 engine and, Ateco said, is "significantly larger than its market rivals and will offer the ability to tow up to 4.5 tonnes, a tonne more than the rest of the market. It will also offer features and options that are simply not available on lesser utes".

Launch is in mid-June.

Ateco also recently announced 2018 updates for the 2500 and 3500 including new, locally retuned, suspension settings to improve ride and handling.