Last October, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed the automaker was considering producing a large SUV based on the next-generation Ram 1500 platform. Nine months later, the vehicle is still under consideration, with Jeep brand boss Mike Manley alluding to its arrival in a recent interview with USA Today.
A full-size SUV would help FCA cash in on the profit-heavy body-on-frame SUV market, which is currently dominated by General Motors’ Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. The automaker also has a good opportunity to produce such a vehicle with the next-generation Ram 1500 due after 2020, and industry analysts think such a product is a “no brainer.”
“You have the opportunity with a new frame for the next-generation Ram,” Manley said. “You have the opportunity to take a large SUV off of it because we already have a very, very capable frame today that is going to be upgraded.”
Contrary to earlier reports, a full-size body-on-frame SUV from FCA wouldn’t be sold under the Ram banner. It will instead fall under the Jeep, Dodge or Chrysler banner, with Dodge and Chrysler seeming the most likely candidates. No matter what badge it wears, what’s for certain is its potential profitability.
“While crossovers are all anyone wants to talk about, the money is still in pickups and SUVs,” Dave Sullivan, an auto industry analyst for Auto Pacific, told USA Today. “FCA needs to enter this segment. Fiat Chrysler “is chasing profit-driving vehicles and they are missing out on a major one, just as Ford is getting ready to launch an all-aluminum Expedition.”
FCA announced earlier this year it would kill off the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 in order to free up production capacity at its North American plants to build more profit-heavy trucks and SUVs. New Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs are apart of that plan along with a Jeep Wrangler pickup and now, possibly a body-on-frame Chrysler or Dodge.