Ram trucks, the behemoth pickups of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), are on their way to Australia - and New Zealand - courtesy of a new import and conversion program announced today.
The deal is the handiwork of Fiat Chrysler New Zealand, a joint venture between former FCA Australia boss Clyde Campbell and Neville Crichton, owner of importer Ateco Automotive.
Ram’s big American-built pickup trucks are already available in Australia through low-volume import and conversion companies like Performax and US Autos, sold alongside Ford’s F-Series models, GMC’s Sierra and the Toyota Tundra.
This new deal, organised directly with the now London-based FCA, gives Fiat Chrysler NZ the freedom to import as many vehicles here as it can sell, thanks to new ‘Full Volume’ Australian Design Rules compliance.
The Australian arm of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has no official involvement in the import deal, but it has confirmed that it supports the program.
"Until now the only way to own one in Australia was through a low volume aftermarket conversion. Our vehicles are being developed with the full blessing of FCA's Ram division," Campbell said today.
"They have worked closely with our engineers to produce a vehicle that is as close to an official factory right-hand-drive vehicle as it can be without it having actually run down the factory production line."
The trucks will be converted here in Australia, although the company has yet to confirm details of that arrangement. It is believed, however, that HSV parent and Tata importer Walkinshaw has been tapped for the job.
The biggest of Ram’s pickup trucks, the 2500 and 3500 models, will be the first models offered, although local specifications are still to be confirmed.
In the US, the big trucks can be had with 5.7 and 6.4 litre V8 petrol engines and a Cummins 6.7 litre diesel six.
Equipped with the big 1200Nm diesel, the 3500 boasts a 3.3 tonne payload and a towing capacity of up to eight tonnes.
The company has not confirmed any plans for the ‘light duty’ 1500, although it could strain the bounds of the local FCA operation’s support if it tries.
FCA Australia boss Pat Dougherty is known to be keen on the 1500, however, as an official factory import that could tangle with more conventional high-volume models like the Toyota HiLux and the Ford Ranger.