Trucks & SUVs

Ram 1500 Classic Pausing to Bring Back the Jeep Wagoneer

The Ram 1500 Classic may be based on an older version of the current Ram 1500, but it still enjoys a healthy popularity. Even with a more affordable base cost, trim options like the Warlock Mojave Sand package mean customers shouldn’t feel cheapened out. Ram has actually extended the truck’s production to meet demand. But potential buyers may have to look harder to find the Ram 1500 Classic in the future. According to new information from FCA and Motor1, Classic production will be temporarily paused to prepare for the upcoming Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs. This is what we know so far.

How Ram 1500 Classic Production May be Affected

FCA Warren Truck Assembly Plant
FCA Warren Truck Assembly Plant | FCA

The Ram 1500 Classic is produced at FCA’s Warren Truck Assembly Plant, northeast of Detroit. At the moment, that is the only vehicle the plant makes. However, in February of this year, FCA announced new plans for the plant as part of a $4.5 billion investment in its Michigan facilities. $1.5 billion of this alone was designated for the Warren Plant.

This investment was for expanding the paint shop and retooling the plant for producing the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, along with “electrified models.” This is where Ram 1500 Classic production gets involved. In a video showing the paint shop construction, FCA states that “production at the retooled plant is expected to begin early 2021.” While a plant’s retooling, production shuts down. No new Ram 1500 Classics until the restart.

Although 2021 may seem like a long time away, for automotive production, it actually isn’t. Retooling a plant requires moving massive presses and other machines, installing rail lines for moving chassis, and so on. It’s a logistical nightmare. In 2017, Automotive News reported that GM would take 10 weeks to retool its plants for redesigned models. That’s two months, and that’s for redesigned versions of existing models. The Warren Plant makes one truck right now—it’s about to make at least two more SUVs. Two months may not be enough.

2019 Ram 1500 Assembly at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant
2019 Ram 1500 Assembly at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant | FCA

And according to The Detroit Bureau, construction of the paint shop is actually ahead of schedule. Reports suggested production could start as early as the end of 2020. FCA may decide to launch the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer as 2021 models, meaning retooling could potentially begin in the middle of 2020.

Why Impact the Ram 1500 Classic at Warren?

As both Motor1 and Car and Driver state, the Wagoneer models are based on the current Ram 1500, not the Classic. In fact, spy photos have document that FCA modified Ram 1500s to serve as Grand Wagoneer test mules. Why not build the SUVs at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, where the Ram 1500 is made? Most likely, volume.

2019 Ram 1500 Assembly at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant
2019 Ram 1500 Assembly at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant | FCA

The Ram brand is quickly catching up to the Ford F-150 in terms of sales. Back in 2016, FCA announced an investment of $1.46 billion in the Sterling Heights Plant to retool and expand the plant’s production of the Ram 1500. Although Jeep had announced the development of additional SUVs in 2011, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer weren’t officially announced until 2017. It’s entirely possible FCA didn’t want to take any time away from Ram 1500 production. And even if such a decision were to be made now, if Ram 1500 demand continues to rise, it most likely wouldn’t be feasible.

Regardless, the Ram 1500 Classic production line is still running. And a pause isn’t likely for at least a few months. But the Warren Plant is going to be busy for a while.