Ovens & Murray Advertiser

RAM trucks success downunder

- By EWAN KENNEDY

THE 5000th RAM truck has rolled off the production line in Melbourne. The Granite Crystal grey 1500 V8 Hemi Laramie is one of the team that has the brilliant catchline of, “Eat utes for breakfast”.

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 3000 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 purposebui­lt 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.

 ??  ?? RAM conversion to tight-hand drive employs many happy Aussies.
RAM conversion to tight-hand drive employs many happy Aussies.

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