Ram trucks are crazy for not making its version of a Chevy Suburban. You know, a full-size SUV. We don’t understand why it doesn’t, and we’ll back it up with some facts. If Ram has one in the works we apologize in advance, and we applaud your delinquent action in this matter. But if it isn’t, then maybe it should pay attention.
Trucks are made for this
First, truck platforms are built to build off of. You have different wheelbases, bed configurations, two- and four-door versions. Plus, in GM’s case, it makes a couple of different SUVs from its truck chassis and sheetmetal combined. That’s what you do with a truck platform-you make variations. It’s called amortizing costs over several versions of a similar thing. The “thing” in this case is the platform.
It’s one of the basic tenets of truck development. But, for as long as we remember Dodge and then Ram has not done a full-size SUV from their pickup truck chassis/sheetmetal. Even International Harvester did this when it used to make pickups in the 1950s-1970s. It had its “Carryall” full-size SUV. It always did things on the cheap, and this was a way to make a few more of the same thing but different. If International saw the benefits back in the stone ages, why don’t you?
Too busy making Calibers and Sebring convertibles
Maybe you were eyeing the wrong thing? Like Calibers and Sebring convertibles. Or, Dodge Darts and Chrysler 200 sedans? Those days are gone. It’s time to get with a full-size SUV program.
A Suburban/Expedition/Carryall is a completely different thing from a pickup. It has a completely different look and different functions. But a full two-thirds, if not more, is pickup truck stuff. If you were Ram, you would only have to tool up the rear quarters, top, and some interior bits. Everything else is from your great, new 1500 pickup. Seats, doors, dash, frame, engine, glass, and on and on. And, it’s what you’re supposed to do from an accountant’s point of view.
So, let’s look at some production numbers. For years the Suburban has been selling comfortably at around 60,000 units per year. But, from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s it sold over 100,000 a year. In 2001 and 2002 it sold over 150,000 each year. That isn’t chicken feed. And don’t forget, to get those 60,000-150,000 units a year you only have to tool up the afore-mentioned components. This isn’t from-the-ground-up development costs.
It’s called versatility, baby!
The other thing it does is it gives your dealers more options to help them sell Rams. Maybe a family comes in thinking it wants a crew cab. But it starts walking out when it sees the price, or the length, or whatever. Now, you would have the option to try and slide them into a smaller truck, or maybe a Suburban. And vice-versa.
Let’s say they come in for a Ram full-size SUV but for whatever reason balk once they are in the showroom. You can slide them into an extended cab or maybe a Durango. See, that’s versatility! It’s a wonderful thing. But, they can’t do this now because they don’t have a full-size Ram SUV. Ram, you’ve already got more than two-thirds of it tooled up already.
So this is us doing our part for “Help A Truck Manufacturer Out Month” to give you some good advice to help you make more cha-cha. Get it? We hope you are paying attention.