The very American RAM range is very varied; light duty (1500) and heavy duty (3500 and 2500). They can tow anything from 3.5 tonnes up to 6.9 tonnes.
“This is truly an Australian automotive success story,” says Neville Crichton CNZM, Executive Chairman of the Ateco Group and originator of the idea to convert left-hand drive RAM Trucks to right-hand drive at the bespoke Melbourne Manufacturing Facility (MMF).
“This year will see RAM sales just shy of 3,000 units in Australia and New Zealand – last year we sold 767 and just 449 in 2017. Most pleasing of all, however, is the boost to the local automotive manufacturing sector, employing over 250 people directly, and many more indirectly via our local supplier agreements.”
The RAM Trucks Australia story began in 2013, when the Ateco Group became New Zealand distributor for FCA, which included the RAM Trucks brand.
Crichton realised there was an opportunity to demonstrate Australia could manufacture and produce a world-class product despite the closure of other local manufacturing facilities.
RAM Trucks decided they were ready to enter the market with the Ateco Group and a worldwide search for an effective remanufacturing partner began. The Walkinshaw Group – with whom Crichton has a long-standing relationship, having raced for Tom Walkinshaw back in the 1980s – they were the most competitive and were awarded the contract in 2015.
Rams (which incidentally haven’t been called Dodges since 2009) are imported to Oz ready to drive – but with the steering etc. on the left. They are trucked to the purpose-built facility in Melbourne, where the body is pulled off the chassis and a total RHD conversion is carried out.
The Ateco Group has invested over $100m in tools, equipment, inventory, and stock to enable product development, quality and conformity with the overseas requirements of RAM Trucks International, as well as the ADR regulations.
RAM Trucks Australia is the world’s only factory-authorised RHD manufacturer of RAM Trucks and, from June 2019, Australia’s only 24-hour vehicle manufacturing facility.
The company is a major source of employment in automotive engineering, design and production excellence for both RAM Trucks Australia and New Zealand, and the Australian component companies that keep the factory supplied with Australian made parts.
“The investment is significant and ongoing,” says David Smitherman, RAM Trucks Australia Special Advisor.
“We have a fantastically engaged dealer network in both Australia and New Zealand, and we have exciting plans for 2020 and beyond to continue building the brand, product portfolio and network.”
Every RAM is backed by a three year/100,000km warranty with roadside assistance, and requires a service every 12 months or 12,000km.