The Walkinshaw Group in Australia, once responsible for the hottest Holden models sold in Australia, has diversified its business in the country. For a few years now, it’s also converted left-hand-drive Ram 1500 pickup trucks to right-hand drive for local sale.
Business is booming and the company said it’s now running conversion shifts 24 hours a day to keep up with demand for the big rigs. This year, Walkinshaw expects it will convert 7,000 vehicles total to right-hand drive for local sale.
In the process, it’s provided somewhat of a stay for auto manufacturing jobs. The country’s auto production sector infamously folded throughout this decade as automakers pulled the plug on numerous production plants.
According to Australia’s CarAdvice, work began in 2015 on right-hand-drive Ram 1500 conversions with just 30 workers. Now, Walkinshaw as 150 workers running around the clock. The wait list for one of the full-size trucks has grown to four months. The company has also come a long way in the conversion process itself. Originally, it took workers three days to swap the steering wheel and other essential components to the other side of the truck.
Now, the timeline is down to 12 hours per pickup.
Walkinshaw doesn’t only handle Ram 1500 models, however. The Holden Special Vehicles division, which Walkinshaw operates, is responsible for right-hand-drive Chevrolet Silverado pickups in the country, too.
Walkinshaw just converted its 1,500th right-hand-drive Ram truck to right-hand-drive, and the company expects it will sell close to 3,000 pick-ups this year. When Walkinshaw started converting Ram trucks, the forecast was said to be 500 to 1,000 Ram vehicles per year. The drive-away price for a right-hand-drive Ram 1500 is $79,950 AUD. It’s based on the Ram 1500 Classic, rather than the all-new 2019 Ram 1500.
The last time an auto assembly plant ran for 24 hours in Australia was the now-shuttered Holden production line in Elizabeth, South Australia, back in the early 2000s. At that time, Holden produced 13 variants of the iconic Commodore. These days, vehicle production in Australia is all but extinct, as Toyota, Ford and General Motors have all ceased building vehicles there.
Ram HD conversions are also sold in the Australian market. The asking price for a Ram 2500 HD with a 6.7-litre turbo-diesel Cummins six cylinder is a steep $139,500 AUD, while the Ram 3500 HD is priced at $146,500 AUD.