Ram CEO Says 29-MPG EcoDiesel Pickups Will Be Plentiful

Ram CEO Bob Hegbloom says consumers have been asking for the EcoDiesel engine in other body configurations.

Byron Pope, Associate Editor

January 27, 2015

4 Min Read
Hegbloom says Ram 1500 diesel take rate to reach 20
Hegbloom says Ram 1500 diesel take rate to reach 20%.

DETROIT – Ram CEO Bob Hegbloom scoffs at the notion the 29-mpg (8.1 L/100 km) version of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel will be difficult to find on dealer lots as some have suggested, comparing the pickup to some low-volume high-mileage models offered by other automakers.  

Announced during the recent 2015 North American International Auto Show, the ’15 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE will deliver the 29-mpg highway rating, a 1-mpg (0.4 km/L) improvement over the standard model 1500 with an EcoDiesel mill.

To achieve the high fuel-economy rating, the HFE features a unique trim package on the Ram Express and high-volume Ram 1500 Tradesman Quad Cab 4-door body with a 6-ft., 4-in. (23.1-m) bed and 20-in. wheels. It also has wheel-to-wheel sidesteps and a tri-fold tonneau cover, which improve aerodynamics.

“We’ve never offered a diesel in that configuration because we wanted to maintain a low-price point,” Hegbloom tells WardsAuto. “But (customers) came to us and said, ‘We want the diesel in that truck.’ The only pieces we added besides the diesel are a tonneau cover and side steps. It will be available everywhere in the country.”

Demand for the Ram 1500’s equipped with the 3.0L diesel V-6, a 2015 Ward’s 10 Best Engines recipient, has been strong. Hegbloom says the current take rate is about 10%, but demand for the diesel has been so great Ram has increased capacity and the 20% take rate is expected when the additional volume is available later this quarter.

“We haven’t seen demand slow,” he says. “We’re really proud of this.”

Hegbloom, a 27-year Chrysler veteran who took over the role of Ram CEO from Reid Bigland last year, hopes to continue the sales momentum the brand has enjoyed. He says Ram has posted 56 consecutive monthly sales increases, largely by conquesting buyers from Ford and General Motors.

In full-year 2014, Ram U.S. sales were up 23.6% vs. 2013 to 439,789, according to WardsAuto data.

Hegbloom doesn’t guarantee the impressive sales streak will continue, but says he and his team are doing their best to keep continue the momentum.

“I’ve been around before where we’ve had spikes in sales where you get an increase and then start to decay,” he says. “The nice thing with this, going back nearly 5 years, is we’ve had sustained growth. We’re gaining share and volume and we just want to keep this pace up.”

One way the brand keeps sales churning is by introducing new derivatives of the Ram 1500. The latest is the Ram Rebel, which was unveiled at the show here.

The ’15 Ram 1500 Rebel, geared toward off-road enthusiasts, receives a number of exterior changes from the base model, including a billet silver Ram badge on the grille, which replaces the marque’s signature crosshair design. Other modifications include a black off-road front bumper, a silver skid plate, new front tow hooks and LED fog lamps, bi-functional projector headlamps with LED marker lights and a new sport hood.

For improved off-roading capabilities, the Rebel’s ride height has been increased 1.0 in. (2.5 cm) vs. the base 1500. The truck features Bilstein shocks in the front and rear as well as a softer rear stabilizer bar for improved driving dynamics.

The Rebel is powered by a 3.6L Pentastar V-6 making 305 hp and 269 lb.-ft. (364 Nm) of torque or a 5.7L Hemi V-8 making 395 hp and 410 lb.-ft. (556 Nm).

Hegbloom says the Rebel, scheduled to go on sale in the third quarter, is a model consumers and some dealers have been asking for.

“Wheels and tires, a lift kit and dual exhaust are things people add on to their trucks and we gave it to them,” he says. “The dealers that tell us they want it are the ones that typically don’t do a lot of customization themselves. They want a turnkey opportunity that we deliver to them. Other dealers that do all this customization and aftermarket appointments don’t want us to do it.”

Other than conquests, another thing driving Ram sales are buyers returning to a segment that they fled due to high gasoline prices and the economic recession. Hegbloom says these buyers are not returning, noting that once you drive a truck you always want one.

The Ram “rides as nice as anything out there, and now we’re delivering these incredible fuel-economy numbers and people are coming back,” he says. “We’re excited about all the activity in the marketplace because it gets people shopping.”

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About the Author(s)

Byron Pope

Associate Editor, WardsAuto

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