Earlier this year, we got our first look at the redesigned 2019 Ram 1500. And as we discovered during our first drive, Fiat Chrysler’s full-size pickup truck is more stylish, comfortable, and refined than ever. Unfortunately for Ram, ramping up production has been a challenge. It’s still building the previous-gen 1500 at a different plant, so sales haven’t suffered as much as they could have, but it sounds like that’s actually contributing to the problem.
Automotive News reports that according to one source inside Ram, Fiat Chrysler’s decision to continue building the older generation had caused a problem for suppliers. The demand for parts is reportedly so high, those suppliers are having a hard time “keeping up.” The source also told Automotive News that construction hasn’t been completed on the facility and that some factory workers still need additional training. More than 2,500 completed Ram 1500s are allegedly being held, awaiting repair for an unnamed electrical issue.
As we previously reported, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has already admitted that building the 2019 Ram 1500 at the retooled Sterling Heights plant has been more difficult than expected. On a recent call with investors, Marchionne said the plant is “running at 60 percent of cycle today which is not where we need to be,” and that FCA “allowed enough time in 2017 to get that installation up, but it’s proven to be challenging.”
After reminding investors that the $300 million these delays have added to the cost of Ram production “are temporary costs,” Marchionne promised that FCA would make up for these production losses by the end of the year. That’s because, at full capacity, the Sterling Heights facility will be capable of producing 100,000 more trucks per year than the Warren plant could.
Just don’t expect Marchionne to take a page out of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s book and move into the factory. “I’m not sleeping on the floor,” he said. “You have to be Elon’s age to do it. I’m too old for that crap.”
Based on the sales data, Marchionne needs to hurry. Ford’s U.S. F-Series sales were up 4.3 percent through March of this year, while Chevrolet Silverado sales were up 5.5 percent. Ram 1500 sales, however, were down 12.8 percent. FCA has even reportedly begun offering dealers incentives to add Rams to their service loaner fleet in an attempt to improve sales figures.