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2/29/2016 10:20:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Ram CEO Targets Growth in Commercial Van and Truck Sales

Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg News

Bob Hegbloom — CEO of the Ram brand — might have a problem.

His boss, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, has doubled down on the Ram and Jeep brands and is counting on those brands to carry the load for the company's growth in the coming years.

But at least for now, the automaker has maxed out its production capacity at its Warren Truck Assembly Plant, where the company makes most of the Ram 1500 pickups sold to individual consumers.

Now, Hegbloom hopes to keep those retail sales humming while working to expand the brand's commercial sales by selling more ProMaster vans and pickups designed for business usage.

"We have demand that exceeds what we can build today and, on the one hand, that's a nice position to be in. But on the other hand, there's opportunity out there" that the Ram brand must pass up, Hegbloom said.

The Ram brand largely is a victim of its own success.

Industry sales of pickups have exploded over the past five years as housing has recovered and some lifestyle buyers have returned to the market after it was devastated by the recession.

But Ram has snagged a larger share of the industry's truck market than expected. Ram's share of full-size pickup sales in the United States has jumped to 20.6% in 2015 from 14.8% in 2010.

To be sure, the Ram 1500 still is America's third-favorite pickup. Ford's F-150 lineup is, by far, the market leader. Last year, the F-150 held a 35.7% share of full-size pickup sales, and the Chevrolet Silverado was second with 27.5%.

Still, Ram's growth has been eye-popping. Sales of the brand's full-size truck have more than doubled to more than 451,000 in 2015 from about 200,000 in 2010.

FCA accomplished its sales and market share growth by developing a wider range of models that it sells for higher prices than ever before. New models such as the off-road-ready Ram Rebel and the luxurious Ram Limited have been hits.

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By Brent Snavely
Detroit Free Press


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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