The full-size SUV segment is shrinking, both in terms of sales and vehicle offerings. The body-on-frame behemoths aren’t dead quite yet. Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has announced that the next generation of the Ram pickup truck could have a full-size SUV aimed squarely at the Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon XL, and the Ford Expedition EL.
Machionne warns that the possible new SUV isn’t even at the embryonic stage of development. It’s little more than a vague idea that periodically gets discussed during meetings. However, he explains that Ram has enough room on its production lines to add more models to its lineup, and the next 1500 will be capable of spawning additional variants and body styles because it will feature a much more modular design.
Jeep is also developing its own full-size SUV, but Marchionne isn’t worried about the two models directly competing. If approved for production, Ram’s SUV will be aimed squarely at middle class families with a lots of kids, pets and/or a lot of gear to haul. Jeep’s three-row SUV is being designed as a Range Rover esgue competitor that will carry a much higher base price.
“I don’t think anybody who buys a large SUV is confusing it with a Range Rover,” pointed out Marchionne during a conference call.
If everything goes according to plan, adding a large SUV to the Ram lineup will help parent company Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) post higher profit margins. The segment is relatively small, but large SUVs are highly lucrative models because they are relatively affordable to design and build.
We certainly would welcome the return of this!
Ram has plenty of time to decide on whether launching a large SUV is the right move. The 1500 pickup isn’t scheduled to be replaced until 2019 at the very earliest, meaning it will land in showrooms as a 2020 model. With that time frame in mind, the SUV might not arrive until the 2021 model year.