The global head of Ram Trucks International has praised Australia’s right-hand drive (RHD) conversions operation, saying local models are just as good as those made in the company’s own US plant.
Ram Trucks Australia is the only full-volume RHD re-manufacturer authorised to do what it does by Ram’s parent company, and therefore benefits from factory support.
More than 18,000 Ram 1500 and 2500 models have now been converted to RHD and sold in Australia and New Zealand since 2013 – filling a need among buyers for whom a HiLux or Ranger wouldn’t cut it.
Visiting the 24-hour Melbourne Manufacturing Facility in the city’s southeast, Bob Graczyk was effusive when praising what the local operation had achieved.
“Australia is a super important market for us outside of North America, and the growth that we’ve seen here over the last few years has been phenomenal,” said Mr Graczyk.
“Outside of the US, we sell more full-size pick-up trucks than Ford and GM combined, and Australia representing a market share of more than 70 per cent, is a big contributor of that.
“… I was in our Sterling Heights, US, plant a few weeks ago and yesterday I got into a right-hand drive RAM TRX for the first time – the truck that is coming off the line here in Australia is as good as what’s coming out of our main plant,” he added.
“So, we’re 1000 per cent supportive of the remanufacturing process here – we work very closely with the team and provide whatever they need in terms of support, CAD data etc – and have full confidence in the team here to protect our brand, and to protect our truck.”
Ram Trucks Australia is a licensed trademark of American Special Vehicles Pty Ltd, which is owned by vehicle distributor Ateco – which imports LDV and Renault products on behalf of the manufacturers.
It contracts the Walkinshaw Group to convert the Ram Trucks to RHD at its Melbourne Manufacturing Facility, where the Chevrolet Silverado is also re-engineered for GMSV.
All Ram Trucks Australia vehicles are international-spec pickups uniquely coded for the Australian market and the local build process – but the American plant only makes them in left-hand drive.
The new 16,025 square-metre MMF facility has two dedicated lines for the DS and DT series Rams, and a separate line for heavy duty 2500 models, all running 24/7 and capable of producing up to 20,000 vehicles per year. It currently produces 10,000 per annum.
Ram Trucks Australia claims to have 641 employees, leading it to claim that it’s “the biggest vehicle manufacturer in Australia”.
RHD Rams aren’t merely utes with the steering wheel shifted to the right. The DS 1500 has 361 new components designed (and often produced) locally, while there are 402 new parts on the DT 1500 and 465 on the 2500 heavy duty.
The total number of RHD Rams sold to Australian buyers since production began is 17,115. Ram’s year-to-date tally here is a whopping 4153 sales, up 45 per cent over the same period in 2021. To put this YTD tally into context, that’s more sales than Land Rover (3446).
Ram Trucks’ success selling big American guzzler workhorses with towing capacity beyond smaller utes has spawned a whole industry of factory backed converters, with Chevrolet (Silverado) already in on the act, and both Ford Australia (F-150) and Toyota (Tundra) confirming similar plans for localised RHD products.