After nearly seven straight days of making news, Dodge Speed Week has come to a close with the reveal of the controversial, buzzworthy electric Charger SRT Banshee concept muscle car. But before that happened, we had a chance to attend the Roadkill Nights media event last Friday, where top brass from both Dodge and Ram were present. While many were peering over the Hellcat-powered Grudge Match contestants, we steered our attention to Ram CEO Mike Koval, who invited us to go for a ride on a makeshift Baja course in a 2022 Ram 1500 TRX. After a couple of supercharged V8 jumps, we were able to ask him some questions.
On The Need For A Ram Small/Midsize Truck
“The largest biggest white space opportunity for our brand is a midsize pickup… we’re obviously looking at it very very closely, but nothing to announce today. (Because of the merger) we also have access to different platforms, so I’m looking at other alternatives, and other opportunities that we currently have for sale in other markets. There are challenges with homologation and federalization, it’s never easy. I’m absolutely looking at it, I promise you that… as prices have crept up I think there’s opportunity in that small truck portion in the US market, and that’s where I’m looking to leverage part of our portfolio that may exist in other countries and potentially bringing something here. I would love to do that. I don’t have plans to do so yet.
On The Ram 1500 TRX
“It’s an engineering marvel in an of itself… I think the beautiful thing about that truck and what it’s been able to do for the brand is that it’s given me inspiration for the future, and what I think the electrified future could potentially be like. Of course we don’t have anything to announce today, but boy does it make you wonder. Electrification does not have to be a limiter. I’m very excited for what we have planned for the future.”
On The Off-Road Potential Of Ram Promaster Vans
“Absolutely (opportunity in off-road vans). We made it to Overland Expo West, with plans to go back this year… we’ve really cultivated a nice following in that space. Just in general, the demand for ProMaster large vans has been through the roof. I’m literally looking all over the planet to find more capacity for ProMaster large vans… we can’t build them fast enough.”
“We actually kick off our electrified journey next year with a Ram ProMaster battery electric vehicle that we will build in Saltillo van. We’ve already announced that Amazon is our first large commercial customer, but there are many others… very, very strong early demand in that space.
2022 Sales Expectations
“(The chip shortage) is beginning to stabilize… every time you think you hit calm waters something pops. But I just reviewed the June/July sales performance numbers and it was an excellent month. It was fantastic. Sure, headwinds are all over the place, but I think our customers are resilient and there’s still plenty of demand in terms of truck and van sales. I think it will be a race to the finish in 2022 but I’m very pleased and confident in the outlook for the rest of the year.”
On Ram Revolution, Electrification
“we have clarity of vision, clarity of focus, clarity of purpose… it is a distinct competitive advantage for our brand that with full knowledge of what our competitors are doing, we will deliver the best electric half-ton pickup in 2024 where it matters the most: towing, payload, range and most importantly, charge time.”
With the competition eating up much of the early adoption headwinds, Koval also believes Ram will offer greater appeal to customers.
“I think what’s gonna differentiate Ram from our competitors is that we’re gonna offer a fuller suite of electrified solutions. One size doesn’t fit all in electrification.”
The Ram Revolution website is also gaining traction.
“Tens of thousands of people are signed up to the (Ram Revolution) website. Think about it as a backstage pass, we give them images before we release them, sometimes we give them images before nobody else sees… we’re sending engineers and designers to these (Ram Real Talk) events, having real conversations with real truck owners. I want all of the feedback; the good, the bad, the ugly. I want you to tell me you want nothing to do with an electric vehicle, so that I can better understand what your needs are, and what you really want from an EV because that’s our commitment. We will push past what our competitors have announced and what customers expect.”
“Feedback ranges from the benign to the absurd… research is showing us that more and more truck intenders are open minded to the idea of heavy electrification, but they don’t want to compromise on those core attributes like towing and hauling, and range anxiety has probably bubbled up as the number one issue. I think Ram will address that better than anyone.”
Global Demand Has Never Been Higher
“We just had the best half ever in terms of international sales…I absolutely believe that (Ram can globally tie the brand with one vehicle)… there’s so much potential for the Ram brand. The TRX has acted like that halo model we expected and hoped it would be… we launched it 2 years ago and I got calls from all over the world – China, South America – it’s really raised awareness of the Ram Brand all over the world… our international demand for our products has never been higher.”