Believe it or not, the Dodge Ram pickup truck first debuted in 1932, so you can be sure that its seen its fair share of challenging conditions over the years. That said, this year really hasn’t been great for the brand as it reportedly struggles with what CNET’s Road Show is calling “production hell.”
The modern Dodge Ram is now in its fifth generation and loyal fans of the five-time winner of Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year anxiously await the new 2019 version 1500, but they might be waiting a while.
According to Automotive News, Fiat Chrysler has been mired in challenges, from quality issues to supply backups, that are resulting in a massive order backlog. The problems are so severe that the company has reportedly had to invest $300 million to fix them.
Production targets are said to be 1,400 trucks per day out of Sterling Heights, MI, but currently are said to be kicking out about 1,000. Sources say the plant is running 2 ten-hour shifts, seven days per week, with plans to run every weekend and holiday through Labor Day.
A source told Automotive News that suppliers are struggling to keep pace due to the fact that there are two versions of the 1500 being built simultaneously, but CEO Sergio Marchionne says the company is relying on sales of the previous-gen 1500 to get them through this production nightmare.
The problem is the previous-gen actually hasn’t been selling all that well. Volume is down 13 percent in the first three months of the year, which compares pretty unfavorably to rivals like Ford’s F-series, which has increased sales by 4.3 percent through March, and the Chevy Silverado, which is up 5 ½ percent year-to-date.
Additional problems are more localized – a union source said Sterling Heights is under construction throughout this production run, “and that some workers still lacked proper training.” Additionally, the source said that around 2,500 of the new 1500s were awaiting repairs for non-descript electrical problem.
It’s CEO Marchionne’s last year before he hits the golf course and, heading into retirement, he has some lofty sales goals. Automotive News stressed that FCA needs the launches of the 2019 Ram 1500 and redesigned Jeep Wrangler to go smoothly or it likely won’t hit its ambitious targets.