The 5000th RAM truck has rolled off the production line in Melbourne, marking a significant milestone in the journey of RAM Trucks Australia.
The Granite Crystal grey 1500 V8 Hemi Laramie adds to an ever-growing carpark of RAM trucks in Australia, helping to cement their position as vehicles with superior capacities and capabilities to any other mid-size ute on the market today. Or, as we like to say, vehicles that “Eat utes for breakfast”.
Offering customers light duty (1500) and heavy duty (3500 and 2500) American trucks to suit a range of customer needs – including towing anything from 3.5 tonnes up to 6.9 tonnes – RAM Trucks Australia has been the standout sales success of 2019, up 341.4% YTD.
“This is truly an Australian automotive success story,” says Neville Crichton CNZM, Executive Chairman of the Ateco Group and originator of the idea to convert left-hand drive RAM Trucks to right-hand drive at the bespoke Melbourne Manufacturing Facility (MMF).
“This year will see RAM sales just shy of 3,000 units in Australia and New Zealand – last year we sold 767 and just 449 in 2017. Most pleasing of all, however, is the boost to the local automotive manufacturing sector, employing over 250 people directly, and many more indirectly via our local supplier agreements.”
The RAM Trucks Australia success story began back in 2013, when the Ateco Group became New Zealand distributor for FCA, which included the RAM Trucks brand.
With circa 50,000 RAMs sold per month in the US, and Australian’s love of American products, Crichton realised there was an opportunity to demonstrate Australia could manufacture and produce a world-class product despite the closure of other local manufacturing facilities.
A deep dive of the conversion industry in 2013 discovered some 46 different RAM convertors operating, with differing standards, qualities and expense. Consumers were being taken advantage of and the RAM brand was not professionally represented.
RAM Trucks decided they were ready to enter the market with the Ateco Group and a worldwide search for an effective remanufacturing partner began. Four potential companies were identified, including the Walkinshaw Group, with whom Crichton has a long-standing relationship, having raced for Tom Walkinshaw back in the 1980s. The Walkinshaw Group proved they were the most competitive and were awarded the contract in 2015.
The Ateco Group has since invested over $100m in tools, equipment, inventory, and stock to enable product development, quality and conformity with the overseas requirements of RAM Trucks International, the locally stringent ADR regulations, and high consumer expectations.
RAM Trucks Australia began converting left-hand drive heavy duty 2500 and 3500 models into right-hand drive vehicles in late 2015, before they went on sale in early 2016. The volume selling 1500 light duty model came on stream in July 2018.
Each nameplate undergoes a thorough re-engineering process which designs and produces right-hand drive trucks for Australia and New Zealand, including using 400 locally sourced remanufacture parts.
As a result, RAM Trucks Australia is the world’s only factory-authorised RHD manufacturer of RAM Trucks and, from June 2019, Australia’s only 24-hour vehicle manufacturing facility.
RAM Trucks Australia is also a major source of employment in automotive engineering, design and production excellence for both RAM Trucks Australia and New Zealand, and the Australian component companies that keep the factory supplied with Australian made parts.
“The investment is significant and ongoing,” says David Smitherman, RAM Trucks Australia Special Advisor.
“We have a fantastically engaged dealer network in both Australia and New Zealand, and we have exciting plans for 2020 and beyond to continue building the brand, product portfolio and network.”
The range begins with the RAM 1500 Express V8 Hemi at $79,950 driveaway. Every RAM is backed by a three year/100,000km warranty with Roadside Assistance, and requires a service every 12 months or 12,000km.