The Ram 1500 pickup truck is hot property Down Under.
The 1500 sold through Ram dealerships in Australia has proven popular with people keen to one-up the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, and the latest DT 1500 being sold in North America is coming soon as Ateco Australia gears up for right-hand drive conversions.
But Ateco won’t have things its own way. Along with competition from the Chevrolet Silverado, it’s facing a challenge from Queensland-based converter SCD Remanufactured.
The company is now a certified volume importer for the latest DT Ram 1500, meaning it can convert and sell as many as it wants in Australia. Based in Queensland, it’s planning to expand with showrooms around the country.
SCD Remanufactured already sells the latest Ram 1500, and is gearing up to produce 30 cars per week at its facility north of Brisbane – or more than 1500 cars per year. The company currently converts cars for Australia and export markets such as Papua New Guinea, backed with a three-year/100,000km warranty.
“We’re [converting] 15 vehicles a week now, and we’ve just built a whole new facility,” said Eddie Kocwa, SCD Remanufactured co-founder.
“We’ll probably be going to 30 per week over the next two months,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of employees now, we’re at 75.”
Ateco sold more than 2500 examples of the DS 1500 last year, 1589 of which were the more expensive, higher-spec Ram 1500 Laramie.
Its cars come off the North American production line, before SCD Remanufactured uses what it calls a zero-backlash transfer box to change left-hand drive cars to right-hand drive.
The box means accessories and lift kits designed for left-hand drive vehicles can still be bolted onto the 1500, and minimises the amount of expensive, complicated conversion work that needs to be done in the engine bay.
“A number of years ago we designed this new method where we do a steering transfer inside the cabin, it just sits behind the dash,” Mr Kocwa said.
“It’s a simple, simple method… basically we leave everything in the engine bay alone, and we just use the steering transfer box on the original driver’s side, a steering transfer shaft, and then another steering transfer box.”
The transfer box is why SCD says it can have the pumped-up 1500 TRX in Australia by Christmas with its supercharged V8.
The company and its chief engineer, Karan Jain, is currently working to homologate its transfer box for carmakers looking to install it from the factory. Mr Kocwa remained tight-lipped on which brands and cars, naturally.
“This is an Australian initiative that can now be sold around the world… it has applications not just in the car industry,” Mr Kocwa said.