Ram will extend the production of its current pickup truck by about two years.
Fiat Chrysler's Ram truck division will reportedly continue production of its current light-duty pickup well into 2019. That would over-lap with production of Ram's next-generation truck model, due out in early 2018.
Ram will use its older truck model to fulfill fleet orders, although some versions of the truck will be available on retail lots. Ram says it currently struggles to meet fleet demand because its mix is skewed toward higher-profit retail sales.
"Going into 2018, having more pickup capacity will allow us also to satisfy the fleet customers' demand on pickup, which we struggle to do today because we favor retail in the U.S. and Canadian volume, which have higher margins," CFO Richard Palmer told Automotive News. "As we realign our capacity, we're going to be able to continue to work on improving our fleet mix."
Ram will continue to produce the current version of its light-duty pickup at plants in Saltillo, Mexico, and just outside of Detroit at its Warrant Truck Assembly facility. Those plants are expected to build about 200,000 units in 2018 and another 65,000 in 2019 before production is phased out.
Meanwhile, Ram will launch an all-new pickup truck model in early 2018. That redesigned truck will feature tougher styling and maintain conventional steel construction, although lightweight materials could be used in a few choice areas. It will be built at the company's Sterling Heights Assembly Plant where the Chrysler 200 sedan is currently built. That plant will eventually produce 400,000 Rams annually.