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As GM & Ford cut truck production, Chrysler banks on new 2009 Dodge Ram
Associated Press
Friday June 27, 2008



CHELSEA, Mich. (AP) _ Gas prices are above $4 per gallon. Full-size pickup truck sales are down more than 21 percent through May. The U.S. auto market is in a downward funk. Great time to introduce a new pickup truck, right?

Strange as it may seem, that's what Chrysler LLC executives are thinking when it comes to the new 2009 Dodge Ram, due in showrooms by September or October.

"We're actually pretty optimistic about it," said Deborah Wahl Meyer, Chrysler's marketing chief, who adds that despite a downturn, pickups remain the largest segment of the market. "There's a large group of core people who need trucks."

But in an era of expensive gas, the new four-wheel-drive truck with a 390-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 gets about 14 miles per gallon in the city and 18 on the highway, which Chrysler says is competitive.

In an interview Thursday at Chrysler's annual new model media event at the company's proving grounds near Chelsea west of Detroit, Wahl Meyer agreed with General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. executives that the U.S. auto market has made a structural shift away from pickups and sport utility vehicles.

But she says the pickup market will still be sizable, and the company has made changes in the Ram to make it better than its main rivals, the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

They include a new high-quality interior with more storage space that gets rid of the shiny plastic of the old truck, a more powerful engine, and a new suspension. The new truck also has better aerodynamics and an 80-pound weight reduction that allow it to get one extra mile per gallon of gasoline than the current model. Hybrid and diesel versions are coming, perhaps by early 2010.

So far this year, though, gas prices and the down economy have caused buyers to shun the Ram and other trucks, with Ram sales down 27 percent through May.

Yet Steve Bartoli, vice president of global product marketing, thinks the Ram can take sales from competitors.

"In a slightly declining or declining market, the best product wins," he said. "We think we're going to be able to pick up market share even in a tough market."

Bartoli also said history shows truck sales have a big rebound after a long down period, especially because the U.S. population is predicted to grow.

"It's all going to come back," he said. "It's taking a severe hit, there's no doubt, and were feeling that pain right now."

Living through the pain might be tough for Chrysler. Industry analysts have expressed concerns about its cash flow after 2008, and on Thursday, persistent rumors about it filing for bankruptcy protection forced the company to issue a statement saying the speculation was untrue.

At a time when the market is shifting to smaller cars and crossover vehicles, Chrysler's cars aren't selling well and have been criticized for having cheap-feeling interiors.

Source: http://www.mlive.com/business/index.ssf/2008/06/as_gm_ford_cut_truck_productio.html
 

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They have no sense that gas prices aren't going back down. This isn't business as usual.

Coffin, meet Nail. Nail, meet Coffin.
 

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I don't think Chrysler has a choice, the Ram is there only hope right now. The Journey & Caliber are doing ok but everything else is dismal. I don't know of any other significant launches for them in the near term either, except for the niche Challenger.

What I am wondering is how many 08 models they have on the lots and whether or not they will do a gradual launch of the 09's to get rid of the 08's or just flood the market and have another 06 type fire sale.

I think Ford was smart to delay their F-150 launch as it clears inventory and gives them more time to make sure everything is perfect for the launch. Plus gas prices usually start falling as summer comes to an end.
 

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Well the "Go Big or Go Home" attitude still exsists.....
 

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I think they're in for a shock, at least in this area buyers are HIGHLY unlikely to switch to Dodge from other brands. The majority are loyal to whatever brand they currently have, but the other 40% that do switch around seem to go Ford or Chevy, Dodge has had too long of history of poor fuel economy, brake issues and transmission problems. Many around here bought 94/95 Rams and had lots of problems, although that's been 14 years, its only been a few trucks ago for most and they aren't going to try the Dodge thing again. Working on a dealer lot, I can tell you that a Ram is much harder to sell than a Silverado or F-150. Look at the problems Toyota and Nissan are having with conquesting sales and they have a very good reputation for durability (right or wrong that IS the popular belief) Dodge has a poor reputation, what do you think their going to find?
 

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It's a good looking truck and I like the coil spring rear suspension. The R/T version should be pretty hot.

I'm hoping that do well enough with this truck to pull through the coming years.
 

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And people say GM is mismanaged... the three-headed dog is barking up the wrong tree here.
The three-headed dog has a GMAC muzzle on one head, a Chrysler muzzle on the second head and the third head is shoved way up its' arse!
 

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Sounds like they have not realized how bad things really are. Judging by the snout on this thing, it looks anything but aerodynamic. At least their attitude is positive........
 

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with the Rumors of Cerberus going to chapter 11 they dont have any other choice,atleast Ford got a chance because they have the new mks and flex and by years end the refreshed trio
 

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So the new Dodge gets 14/18mpg. The GM gets 16/21( right? Could be wrong ) Thats not bad considering the horsepower difference between it and its competitors. And the R/T will offer a Regular cab with 390hp that should be very appealing and should draw a lot of sales. If the pricing stays competitive, Chrysler may have a winner here.
 

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Hey, there's still a market for full-size trucks ! If Chrysler can just make sure that they don't over-produce, they can reap a nice profit for each unit sold. If they're smart - and there's little evidence they are - they'll plow the profits from this new truck into developing a couple of decent cars...
 

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14/18 isn't bad for a full sized truck 390 horsepower.

For comparison, the GMC Denaili has 403 horses and 14/20mgh (in 2007). Next year's Silverado is supposed to have this engine as an option, but I imagine that the EPA figures for 2008 have been adjusted downward.

The Tundra gets 14/18, but doesn't have as much horsepower.

No news on Nissans new products for 2009, but I doubt it will match this.

Either way, Dodge already has an advantage because they will likely allow people to get the most powerful engine with the regular cab.

They have no sense that gas prices aren't going back down. This isn't business as usual.

Coffin, meet Nail. Nail, meet Coffin.
Gas prices are just as likely to go back down as they are to go up....so either way is some kind of gamble.

The smart move is to have a good, diverse lineup of trucks and SUVs as well as hybrids and fuel efficient cars.
 

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They have no sense that gas prices aren't going back down. This isn't business as usual.

Coffin, meet Nail. Nail, meet Coffin.
Funny and True!

I'm doubtful this Ram will increase Dodge's pickup marketshare, and if it does the market is shrinking so overall sales will decrease. Hope they have a plan B for their recovery.

Gas prices may dip a little, but I'd would be surprised if the truck market ever fully recovers.
 

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Watching Chrysler implode is alot more fun than watching GM implode. At least GM attempts to build cars the market wants.
Watching either implode sucks IMO. Chrysler has survived big problems before... something GM has a lot less experience with. They have some good people and a much smaller company they need to revitalize. I think its a close horse race and I'd argue Chrysler has built just as many "desireable" cars GM (percentage wise)... They created the Minivan segment, the 300 was a big hit, and they've become much more legit of a pickup manufacturer. They pioneered "Cab Forward" design which folks loved and they sold a ton of PT cruisers. Is Iaccoca still around???
 

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What are they supposed to say? Yeah, we're idiots? They spent a lot of money developing this truck, they have to launch it because that's how they pay for the tooling. So yeah, the marketing guy is going to say it's the greatest thing ever, that's his job.
 
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