Ram 4X4 trucks launch in Australia

By: Matt Wood

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

The right-hand-drive Ram 3500 pickup truck. The right-hand-drive Ram 3500 pickup truck.
The right-hand-drive Ram 3500 pickup truck. The right-hand-drive Ram 3500 pickup truck.

The towing-tough Ram pick-up trucks which have been carting around Cletus and his cousins since 1981 are now available in Australia courtesy of American Special Vehicles (ASV), an alliance between automotive distributor Ateco and Melbourne-based Walkinshaw Automotive Group.

Originally sold under the Dodge brand, Ram has been the commercial vehicle arm of Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) since 2009.

Two Ram 4x4 models have hit Australian shores — the big, beefy 3500 and the slightly more cosseting 2500.

Both are powered by a 6.7-litre Cummins turbo-diesel which provides 370 horsepower (276kW) of grunt and 1084Nm of torque.

A 68RFE 6-speed torque converter auto sits behind the little 6-cylinder Cummins donk and is equipped with a shift-on-the-fly 4x4 transfer case.

The Cummins engine complies with current US smog laws and uses SCR to clean up any tailpipe nasties. As such the Ram requires Adblue and usage will depend on load and how hard the truck is working.

The Ram 2500 will take a payload of 916kg while the 3500 takes a 1713kg load and needs a light truck licence to drive.

But with trucks like this it’s all about the towing. The Ram 2500 will haul 6,989kg with the right tow hitch while the bigger brother will tow less at 6,170kg.

The most significant difference between the new models is the rear end. The 3500 sits on leaf springs while the 2500 sports a multi-link coil over shock rear end.

The LHD Ram trucks arrive in Oz direct from the factory and are remanufactured at Walkinshaw Group’s purpose-built Ram assembly line. ASV chief operating officer John DiBeradino reckons that this process has raised the bar for right-hand-drive conversions in Australia.

The conversions are being undertaken with the blessing of FCA.

The cab is removed from the chassis, sections of firewall and footwell are remanufactured and a new dash board is built, including the factory air bags.

Local crash testing was about to be undertaken at the time of the launch.

The steering box is now mounted Jeep Wrangler-style outside the right hand chassis rail so as to not interfere with the factory engine bay layout. The ‘box itself is a purpose-built unit that is made by the same company that supplies the original left hook steering gear.

The finished product is an almost exact mirror image of the factory LHD cockpit. The driver’s footrest has also been relocated.

"Our goal was to produce a right-hand-drive RAM truck that meets the engineering standards, quality and refinement of the left-hand-drive product," DiBeradino says.

"We have spent tens of thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars to make sure we get this right. I believe that the RAM trucks engineered by American Special Vehicles have set a new benchmark — they are spot on."

Amid a gloomy Australian automotive manufacturing environment, the launch of the brand in Australia has created 15 new jobs on the Clayton, Victoria, assembly line.

The right-hand-drive dash pads are being manufactured in Australia by a local component company that also supplies Toyota.

Initial sales expectations for the Rams have already been exceeded. The brand will be handled by a nationwide dealer network which is also expected to grow.

Australian Ram trucks pricing starts at $139,500 MRRP for the 2500 and $146,500 MRRP for the 3500. They are covered by a 3-year/100,000km warranty.


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