Ram Trucks, also known as the Ram Truck Division, is an automaker based in the United States. They design and manufacture light to medium-duty vehicles since 2010 as part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Initially, Ram trucks were part of the Dodge line of vehicles.
The name Ram has been used since 1932 in Dodge Trucks, plus it was issued with several other vehicles including vans. This line has become one of the most popular trucks with enthusiasts nationwide. In addition, they offer many new safety features and innovations that set them apart from the competition. The Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 have all become iconic trucks in America.
What many people don’t know is that the Ram brand has much more to do with today’s vehicles than just trucks. Read on to learn more about the history of this automaker and to understand what they stand for.
A Brief History
First Generation (1981 – 1993)
The first generation of Ram vans and trucks were introduced to the market in 1981. They had a Ram hood ornament design used in the 1932 to 1954 Dodge vehicles. Dodge designated the 150 to indicate a half-ton truck, 250 for the three-quarter-ton truck, and 350 for their one-ton truck.
The offered both a 6.5-foot and 8-foot bed length plus they had a bench seat inside. Some options offered during this time included front bumper guards, air-conditioning, power door locks and windows, plus cruise control.
After 1982, the Club Cab was no longer part of the Dodge lineup. In addition, the four-door crew cab was dropped after 1985.
In 1993, the W250 Club Cab was added with a Cummins B Series diesel engine. What made this different from the GM or Ford trucks was the direct injection, whereas the other manufacturers used indirect injection. This meant that Dodge didn’t need to rely on the use of glow plugs. In addition, the Cummins was a straight-six in comparison to the Ford and GM diesel V8 engines. It was also turbocharged.
Second Generation (1994–2001/2002)
In 1994, Ram trucks were redesigned. They featured a large grille and a big-rig design for the front end. It won them the “Truck of the Year” award for 1994, beating out Ford, Chevy and GMC trucks. This catapulted them to success with sales jumping from 95,542 trucks in 1993 up to 232,092 by 1994 and 411,000 in 1996. By 2001, however, they declined back below Chevy and Ford trucks.
Engine offerings at the time included a 3.9-liter V6, 5.2-liter V8, 5.9-liter V8 and the 5.9-liter I6 Cummings turbo diesel. They also added a new 8.0-liter V10 engine for those desiring optimal pulling power without the use of a diesel engine.
The interior came with a larger glovebox, additional storage located behind the seats and a new center armrest with storage. The gauge cluster and dash were upgraded to be more modern.
In 1998, Dodge introduced some more updates. These included its Quad Cab, rounded mirrors, dual airbags and a digital odometer. They also added a new front end on the Sport models that featured an upgraded bumper, body-colored grille and quad-beam clear-lens headlamps.
During the middle of the 1998 production, Ram trucks with the Cummins B Series engine changed from using the 12-valve version to the 24-valve instead. This was due to the emissions regulations.
Third Generation (2002–2008/2009)
The third generation was unveiled in 2001 at the Chicago Auto Show. The most significant update was to the frame, powertrains, suspension, sheet metal and interior. This new design sent sales skyrocketing with 400,000 sold from 2001-2002 and 450,000 bought during 2002-2003. Even still, they weren’t able to compete with the GM and Ford trucks.
In 2006, they received a minor update which included the Mega Cab. It had a 6.25-foot cargo box plus an additional 22 inches of extra cab space. There was seating for six and it featured rear recliners, a navigation system, and new headlamps as well.
In 2008, the company released two Chassis Cab models: 4500 and 5500. They were Class-4 and 5 trucks powered by a Cummins 6.7-liter diesel engine. Sterling, a division of Freightliner, named the truck the Bullet and sold the 4500 as the Bullet until the brand was discontinued by the Chrysler Corporation.
Fourth generation (2009–2018)
Dodge introduced the newest generation of Ram trucks at the 2008 North American International Auto Show. Since 2011, the brand marketed themselves as having a class-exclusive manual transmission. This came at a time when other truck makers stopped offering manual transmissions.
The company also made Chassis Cab versions for the 3500, 4500 and 5500. Engine options included the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with 383 horsepower and a 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel with 350 horsepower.
They also created the “Long Hauler” concept truck made from existing Ram parts. The wheels, frame, and powertrain all included components taken from the Ram 5500 Chassis Cab.
In 2013, the name Dodge was removed from the truck’s dashboard and replaced instead with “RAM.” They also had updated engine options. First, the 3.7-liter V6 was discontinued. Then, they added the 4.7-liter V8 as the base engine. They also incorporated the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine.
In 2018, Ram upgrades many of the interior components from the U Connect system to the new wireless hotspot provided by AT&T Wireless. They also received a new user interface to provide better navigation or the applications and menus.
The company also released a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 turbo diesel engine for the 2018 RAM 1500. In 2019, fourth generation models were sold alongside the newer fifth-generation. They were virtually identical in comparison to 2018 models.
Becoming Their Own Brand
Ram Trucks became their own brand as part of Chrysler in 2010. It was a spin-off from Dodge and occurred after Chrysler’s acquisition of Fiat S.p.A., an Italian automaker. The goal for the company was to appeal to “real truck” owners instead of the usual casual buyer that cares about style or image.
Dodge wanted to use this transition to switch to an all car lineup while turning all the pickup and heavy-duty trucks in the future over to the Ram brand. To start the Fiat Ducato cargo van was adopted and sold in the United States as the Ram ProMaster. This took the place of the Dodge Sprinter which ended in 2008.
Fifth Generation (2019 – )
At the 2018 North American International Auto Show, the fifth-generation Ram 1500 was unveiled. It was then released to dealers during the first quarter of 2018. This pickup only offered seven varying trim levels as compared to the previous 11 the brand provided.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
Chrysler originally planned to produce a two-mode hybrid version in 2010, but they canceled it to test out a smaller fleet of 140 plug-in hybrid Rams instead. That’s because they received $48 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The PHEV pickup project had an estimated cost of $97.4 million and was introduced during the 2011 Washington Auto Show.
This was part of a demonstration program spanning three years. It intended to evaluate the battery’s performance and field test. They also wanted to assess the customer’s perception of the truck. They were assembled in Michigan at the Warren Truck plant while the plug-in hybrid conversion took place at the Chrysler Technology Center, also located in Michigan. This version was only released to the government, U.S. Army, and utility companies.
It featured a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 gas engine with 345 horsepower. This engine was paired with a two-mode hybrid transmission and Electrovaya lithium-ion battery. The all-electric range of this engine was 20 miles. In the charge-depleting mode, the truck averaged 32 mpg in city driving. It was also capable of towing up to 6,000 lbs.
Then, in 2012, Chrysler halted their demonstration program. All of the 1500 plug-in hybrids were recalled because of damage sustained to three trucks when the battery packs overheated. No one was injured and none of the vehicles were occupied at the time. Prior to the recall, it’s estimated that the fleet racked up about 1.3 million miles collectively.
2019 Ram eTorque Technology
In 2019, Ram released the eTorque mild hybrid system for its 1500. This system replaced a traditional alternator with a belt-driven motor generator. It worked in conjunction with a 48-volt battery pack for short-duration torque, seamless start/stop function, and brake energy regeneration.
This generator feeds a 48-volt current to the 300 watt-hours lithium-ion NMC-Graphite battery. The battery is air-cooled and mounted to the rear wall of the 1500’s cabin. eTorque is also capable of recapturing energy during braking and deceleration in order to charge the batteries.
RAM Safety and Crash Ratings
Are Ram Trucks safe? In 2016, crash tests raised some questions about the safety of the 1500. The IIHS released their results and the Ram 1500 only received “marginal” ratings. In addition, the structure earned the “poor” rating which is the worst available. That’s because it failed the small overlap front crashes.
It’s speculated that the safety measures weren’t a priority for the company because they were attempting to lower prices to meet the demand. At the time, the only truck tested to receive the “good” rating was the Ford F-Series truck. It was also named IIHS Top Safety Pick of that year.
In 2018, the IIHS again awarded the Ram 1500 with low marks. It received “Marginal” ratings in relation to Small Overlap Front Crash, Roof Strength, Headlights and Latch. This once again placed it at the bottom of the list of large pickups evaluated by the IIHS.
For the 2019 year, Ram trucks come with several standard safety features. These include rearview camera, anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, and numerous airbags. Optional safety equipment included Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Blind Spot Detection, plus Rear Cross Traffic.
Just like any brand, there have been numerous recalls for Ram trucks. One of their most known was for some 1999 and 2000 diesel engine models. They were subject to issues with the fuel injectors and water jackets which might have fractured the block itself.
In 2015, the security researcher for Twitter, Charlie Miller working with the Director of Vehicle Security Research at IOActive, Chris Valasek, revealed a security flaw in the Uconnect Entertainment Systems. They demonstrated how vehicles could be remotely controlled through the system which sparked a massive recall across many brands, including Ram.
At the end of 2017, about 1.8 million trucks were also recalled because they had the potential to start rolling, even when the key is out of the ignition. It was due to an issue with the shifter on the steering column. It affected 2010 through 2017 models and there were seven reported injuries as a result of this problem.
FCA claimed that the brake-transmission shift interlock devices failed from long-term exposure to high interior temperatures caused by an electrical issue. While a fix was created, customers were told to use their parking brake as a precaution.
Then, in 2018, the FCA recalled another 180,000 trucks for a similar shifting issue. If the brake pedal of the truck was pushed for a prolonged period while the truck was in Park and running, the BTSI (brake transmission shift interlock) pin could stick in an open position. When this occurred, the transmission could shift from Park into any other gear, even if the brake pedal wasn’t depressed. This led to further unintended truck movement.
Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
Are Ram trucks reliable? Not according to the 2016 Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Reliability Survey. Ram scored last out of all the brands – in 29th place. In fact, five of the seven lowest spots were Fiat Chrysler Automotive brands. This annual survey ranks all major brands in terms of dependability.
For this year, the list was broken into several different categories. The top third was considered “more reliable, while the middle third was labeled, “reliable.” This left the bottom third of vehicles to receive the title, “less reliable.”
For the evaluation, Consumer Reports tested two models: the Ram 1500 plus the Ram 2500/3500. They ranked last in the pickup category while the Toyota Tundra took first place.
The 2016 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study for large light-duty pickup trucks painted a slightly different picture. While the Toyota Tundra was also the winner on their list, the Ram trucks didn’t fare quite as bad. They received an average score for overall dependability. In fact, they listed the powertrain dependability as one of the best. Body and Interior dependability came out better than most while the feature and accessory dependability didn’t do as well with a lower than average marking.
Ram Truck Awards
In total, Ram trucks have been the winner of Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of the Year five times. In 1994, the second generation Ram won. Then, in 2003, the third-generation Ram Heavy Duty took home the prize. The next win occurred in 2010 with the fourth-generation Ram Heavy Duty. Finally, in 2013 and 2014, the fourth-generation Ram 1500 was labeled the winner.
Here are a few of the other awards the Ram truck has proudly won:
– Consumers’ Top Rated Large Light-Duty from Edmunds
– Automobile Magazine All-Star
– Consumers’ Digest Best Buy
– Ruedas ESPN Truck of the Year
– Rocky Mountain Truck of the Year
– Off-Road Pickup Truck of the Year from Four-Wheeler Magazine
– North American Truck of the Year
– Autobytel Pickup Truck of the Year
– Truck of Texas
– Best Full-Size Pickup for the Money from U.S. News
– Ram 1500 One of the 15 Best Family Cars from KBB
– Rocky Mountain Truck of the Year
– Ram 1500 Named Full-Size Pickup Truck of Texas from the Texas Auto Writers Association
– Ram Rebel Wins Four Wheeler’s Pickup Truck of the Year
– Ram 3500 Wins Gold Hitch Award from The Fast Lane Truck
– Ram 1500 Earns One of Autotrader’s 10 Best Car Interiors Awards
– Ram 1500 Earns Best Buy Award from Consumer Guide Automotive
– Ram 1500 Winner of Cars.com “Best of Show” Award
Other Vehicles Derived from RAM
Ram trucks have been the best-known aspect of the RAM name since 2010, but the company also produced several other vehicles. Here’s a listing of all their previous models.
Ram pickup (since 2010) – includes 1500, 2500, and 3500
Dodge D Series – the predecessor of Ram; it even overlapped with the first generation pickup
Dodge Ram 50 – the Dodge version of a Mitsubishi Mighty Max; otherwise known as the predecessor of the Dakota. It also goes by the name the Dodge D50.
Dodge Dakota – Ram 50’s successor, otherwise referred to as “Dodge Baby Ram.” Dates of manufacture include 1996 through 2011. When production discontinued, Ram became its own nameplate and Dodge moved away from truck production.
Dodge Rampage – a car-based pickup truck
Dodge Ram Van – a full-size van
Dodge Mini Ram – a cargo version derived from the Dodge Caravan
Ram C/V – modern-day Dodge Mini Ram equivalent
Dodge Caravan C/V – same concept as the Dodge Mini Ram
Ram ProMaster – newest full-size Ram Van
Ram ProMaster City – a compact van that’s similar to the Ram C/V
Dodge Ramcharger – full-size SUV placed on the Ram chassis. It was the first vehicle to use the Ram name.
Dodge Durango – the successor to Ramcharger. It didn’t have the Dodge Ram marketing
Snapshot of the Company
Ram Trucks are a division of FCA US LLC. Their corporate address is 1000 Ram Trucks Dr. Auburn Hills, Michigan. The Ram trucks division uses three facilities. Two of them are located in North America with one additional situated in Europe.
Warren Truck Assembly
The Warren Truck Assembly plant is found in Warren, Michigan. It first opened back in 1938. This plant has over 70 years of experience producing Ram and Dodge trucks. The Warren metal stamping plant is found nearby as well as Mount Elliot tool and die plant. Both of these companies supply components and parts of the Ram 1500 series.
At this plant, all of the Ram 1500 series, including the double cab and crew cab are assembled. These receive distribution worldwide, except for the 1500 Laramie. Some of those are built at the Mexican facility instead.
Saltillo Truck Assembly
The Mexican plant is Saltillo Truck Assembly located in Saltillo, Coahuila. They manufacture many vehicles from the Ram trucks series. Some of the most produced include the ProMaster Van and the DX Chassis Cab. This plant has received many awards recognizing it as the best truck facility for Chrysler groups regarding build quality. Attached to this building is also the Saltillo stamping plant.
Other vehicles produced here include:
1500 – all the regular cabs for the Mexican market
2500 – all trims, cabs and bed lengths; shipped globally
3500 – all trims, cabs and bed lengths; shipped globally
4500 – all trims, cabs and bed lengths; shipped globally
5500 – all trims, cabs and bed lengths; shipped globally
DX Chassis Cab – just for the Canadian and Mexican markets
The European plant is located in Tofas, Bursa, Turkey. It produces a majority of the vehicles for the European market except for the Ram ProMaster City. These ship to North America from Turkey instead.
In 2017, Ram truck sales went up in relation to the year 2016. On top of that, they’ve slowly been edging up each year. In 2017, Ram trucks sold 556,790 vehicles. That’s not a massive increase in the sales figures from 2016 of 545,851. It is, however, a big leap from the 2014 sales figures of 209,421 trucks.
Fiat S.p.A, otherwise known as Fabbrica Italiana Automobili, was the Italian holding company with a significant industry in automobile production. In 2014, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles became the owner of this company and took over their holdings. They now operate under two subsidiaries: FCA US (previously known as the Chrysler Group) and FCA Italy (formerly known as Fiat Group Automobiles). Both of these name changes occurred at the end of 2014.
FCA Italy includes the brands Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Fiat Professional Lancia, and an engine manufacturing subsidiary VM Motori.
FCA US includes several American-based automakers like Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, Jeep, plus Mopar parts and service.
Other companies within Fiat Chrysler Automobiles include Maserati (luxury cars) and Magneti Marelli (automotive lighting). They also own Comau, which is a firm working on production automation and they have 84.8% share in Teksid, a metal foundry.
FCA also operates in the advertising and print media industries through Italiana Editrice. They publish Il Secolo XIX and Italian La Stampa newspapers. They also maintain interest in the RCS Media Group.
Originally, Avard T. Fairbanks designed a ram radiator cap to use in the late 1920s. At first, Walter P. Chrysler was skeptical of this design at first. Fairbanks asked him what a person would think about if they saw a ram in the wild. Chrysler responded, “Dodge!”
The Ram logo is a sign of force, authority, masculinity and fearlessness. It’s also the ancient symbol of Aries.
As Dodge pickup trucks sported the ram’s head, the brand became known as Dodge RAM trucks. In the 1990s, hood ornaments were not in style, so it was important for the ram’s head to become an identifiable, consistent badge instead. That’s why the ram was placed on most every Dodge vehicle between 1993 and 2010.
When RAM became a separate brand during the Fiat acquisition, Dodge relinquished control over the logo to the truck company. By this time, truck owners had become obsessed with the iconography of the ram. There was, however, slight controversy for a time period over whether the ram head held a resemblance to a woman’s uterus.
There have been several successful marketing campaigns employed by Ram trucks. In 2013, the company was hailed as having one of the best super bowl commercials for the year. The ad features the name “Paul Harvey” written across the screen while his voice read a poem initially from 1978. Throughout the poem reading, pictures of farmland, tractors, and farmers were shown on screen.
For many Americans, the work that farmers do isn’t often thought about. This recitation of Harvey’s poem painted a picture of hard-working people. The message was clear: Ram trucks are constructed for hard-working Americans.
While it was a simple message, the point reached many consumers.
Then, in 2015, Ram trucks partnered with Miranda Lambert. She wrote a song for the campaign titled, ‘Roots and Wings.’ It was inspired by working hard, remaining true to your roots, and being different from others.
In the ad, the song is the primary focus. There’s also live footage of Miranda Lambert singing it while showing landscapes of Lambert’s life locations as well as personal family photos. Ads were seen on both 30 and 60-second broadcasts, a 15-second digital ad, and in the February release of Country Weekly Magazine.
Not all publicity is positive as seen by the 2018 Super Bowl ad that Ram trucks ran. The carmaker used a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sermon as the voice-over during the commercial. Many people responded in horror that the reverend’s words were used to sell trucks.
Throughout the commercial, people were shown helping others. At the end, the company revealed the phrase, “Built to Serve” along with their logo. The company defended their actions stating how proud they were of the campaign. In addition, they noted that any publicity meant the ad did what it was supposed to do.
In 2003 and 2004, a Ram truck won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Manufacturers’ Championship. This truck racing series was owned and operated by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Previous sponsorship occurred through Craftsman at the time, but the race later came under the Camping World hat in 2009.
Then, in 2008 and 2009, Ram trucks won the San Felipe 250. This 250-mile off-road challenge takes place on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula near San Felipe. It started in 1982 and is sanctioned by SCORE International.
Ram Trucks Museum
In 1999, the Walter P. Chrysler Museum opened in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It’s named after the founder and featured numerous historically important vehicles. There were Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, Jeep, Hudson, Nash, AMC, and Rambler vehicles on display alongside Ram trucks.
In 2012, the company decided to close the museum due to low attendance. All its assets went to the Chrysler Foundation which is a charitable arm of the Chrysler Group, LLC. In 2016, the museum permanently closed and plans were made to convert it into office space. The 65 vehicles which had been displayed got transferred to the Chrysler Technology Center as well as several other FCA facilities.
In 2017, Maserati moved its U.S. headquarters from the previous Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey location to the former museum.
Ram truck financing goes through Chrysler Capital. Their headquarters are in Dallas, TX and they offer the same broad spectrum of help that most automaker’s financial services do. They have financing options for purchases or leases. They also provide several lease-end options to consumers.
Chrysler Capital participates in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This eases the burden of military service personnel by providing added protections and benefits while they are in active duty. During the active duty military service, customers receive:
– a six percent interest rate
– no servicing fees
– an option to terminate the lease without penalty
These services continue for 90 days after active duty service ends.
The company also offers numerous incentive programs for potential buyers. Their On The Job Incentive is available for commercial upgrades. It provides up to $1,000 worth of equipment to the vehicle or the addition of company graphics. There’s also a service allowance that covers two years of lube-oil-filter service on a gas engine and four years on a diesel engine.
Active, Active Reserve, Retired Military, Retired Military Reserve and Honorably Discharged Veterans receive special rewards as well. Currently, they receive bonus cash on purchases or leased new vehicles.
Ram trucks also offer an Automobility Disability Assistance program. They offer up to $1,000 cash reimbursement on any modifications needed in relation to customers with a permanent disability. This is offered whether the alterations are to enter, exit or operate a vehicle.
There are 2,600 Ram trucks dealers located in the United States. These dealers operate with Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram trucks. Some of them also sell FIAT vehicles as well. To find the best dealer, you’ll want to pay attention to the various awards they’ve won.
In 2016, there were 124 Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and FIAT dealerships that earned the Customer First Award for Excellence. To win this award, dealers must maintain a convenient, comfortable, and clean environment. They must also have high-quality levels of customer service as noted through service satisfaction surveys. Employees receive surveys regarding the work environment. In addition, all the staff must have up to date training certifications.
The company also recognizes dealerships with the Pentastar Club award. This signifies all the top dealerships in the nation who work hard, have dedication and provide high sales.
As far as J.D. Power’s Dealers of Excellence list, there are currently three dealers that have made their list. Two of them are located in Massachusetts: Herb Chambers Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram FIAT of Danvers and Herb Chambers Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram FIAT of Millbury. The other one is Terry Henricks Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Ohio.
6 Interesting Facts about Ram Trucks
1 – When the Dodge Ram 3500 diesel was first introduced in 1989, it came equipped with a 5.9-liter Cummings turbo diesel. It delivered 160 horsepower and 400 lbs.-ft. of torque.
2- Ram partners with the Texas Rangers law enforcement agency. They’ve even donated $100,000 for the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.
3 – In 2014, the Ram 1500 was the first compact pickup that offered a diesel engine. There was a demand for this, but the other automakers weren’t ready to take the plunge.
4 – Ram trucks have a steel body construction. This makes the trucks heavier, but they get points for leading-edge engineering that delivers good fuel efficiency. Steel is far superior to aluminum when hauling cargo.
5 – Ram involves themselves in many charitable organizations through Ram Nation charities. This includes the First Response Team of America as well as the Gary Sinise Foundation.
6 – They have six regions where their trucks ship to. These are Canada, the United States, Brazil, Peru, Mexico and the Middle East.