Dodge Aims for Commercial Sweet Spot with New 4500 / 5500 Ram Chassis Cabs
By: Larry Edsall Posted: 02-21-07 20:00 PT
© 2007 PickupTruck.com

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CHICAGO – Say what you want about a decline in the full-size pickup truck market, but the fact remains that among all light-duty vehicles sold in the United States in 2006, three of the top four were full-size pickups. Only the Toyota Camry sedan interrupted a clean sweep by the F-150, Silverado and Ram.

“Demand for full-size trucks has been incredibly steady,” Frank Klegon, executive vice president of product development for the Chrysler Group, said during the recent Chicago Auto Show, where Dodge’s emphasis was on the commercial side of the truck business.

On the commercial side, Klegon noted, sales of the Ram 1500 have been “very, very steady.” But where Klegon and Dodge see considerable potential for growth is in the heavy-duty segment, where Dodge already has 2500 pickup and 3500 chassis cab models and where it used its press conference here in McCormick Place to launch its new Class 4 and 5 trucks, the 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs.

Sales of such big trucks are “more dependent” on the national economy,” Klegon acknowledged, but, he added, building and construction are due to rebound and as they do, Dodge will be ready to challenge segment-leader Ford for that business.

With 800,000 commercial truck sales a year internationally, DaimlerChrysler is No. 1 in the category on a global basis, Klegon noted, and in addition to its pickup and chassis cabs, Dodge also has an all-new Sprinter commercial van.

According to Chrysler, sales of Class 4 and 5 trucks, vehicles with gross weight ratings of between 14,000 and 19,500 pounds, reached 140,000 units in the United States in 2006.

Klegon noted that with the launch of its new big trucks, Dodge dealerships now offer commercial customers vehicles for everything from personal passenger cars to a full-line of work vehicles.

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