The Ram pick-up from the USA has passed a major milestone in Australia, with the 5000th example converted to right-hand drive locally in less than four years.
Demand for the Ram 1500 – and its bigger Ram 2500 and 3500 siblings – is so strong the Melbourne facility that remanufactures the trucks to right-hand drive has been operating 24 hours a day since the 1500th example was made in middle of 2019 (pictured below).
The whole operation now employs more than 250 staff including local suppliers.
The company attributes much of the Ram 1500's success to the vehicle’s towing capability – up to 4.5 tonnes with the correct hitch, versus 3000kg to 3500kg for most double-cab utes – its roomier cabin, which can comfortably fit three adults across the back seat, and massive cargo box.
Despite the runaway success of the Ram 1500, it is still the only full size US pick-up in its class sold in Australia as Toyota continues to “study” the Tundra, Nissan drags the chain on the Titan, Ford rules out plans for an F-150, and Holden Special Vehicles is caught up in US delays for the Chevrolet Silverado 1500.
“This truly is an Australian automotive success story. This year will see Ram sales just shy of 3000 units in Australia and New Zealand – last year we sold 767 and just 449 in 2017,” said Neville Crichton, the executive chairman of the Ateco Group, which has invested $100 million to bring Ram trucks to life in Australia.
The Ram pick-ups are converted to right-hand-drive under contract by the Walkinshaw Automotive Group, under the same roof that Holden Special Vehicles converts the Chevrolet Camaro and Silverado 2500 and 3500.
Ram Trucks Australia began converting left-hand drive heavy duty 2500 and 3500 models to right-hand drive in late 2015, before they went on sale in early 2016. The volume-selling Ram 1500 Hemi V8 went on sale in July 2018.
A limited number of diesel versions of the Ram 1500 have made it into dealer stock in recent months, however the company is waiting until 2020 to ramp up local production following delays on diesels out of the US. There are currently no production delays on Hemi V8 petrol models.
The Ram 1500 Express V8 Hemi starts from $79,950 drive-away, while the top-of-the-range Ram 2500 and 3500 models eclipse $150,000 drive-away.
Unlike Rams sold by other smaller conversion shops, the vehicles imported, converted and distributed by Ram Trucks Australia have been crash tested locally and are backed by a three year/100,000km factory warranty.