Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is doing so well in the pickup segment with its revamped version of the Ram light duty truck that now the Italian-American automaker is reconsidering its plans for the Saltillo assembly plant, according to a report by Reuters.
As demand for the new generation of the Ram 1500 soars, the company is weighing in the idea of using the Mexican facility to expand its production capacity in order to bite a chunk into the sales of Ford and General Motors, which rank first and second respectively in pickup sales over the U.S. market.
As part of the plan, FCA could keep the Saltillo facility building heavy duty pickup trucks instead of shifting that production work to Michigan, said CEO Mike Manley to Reuters in his first interview since taking over the company after the sudden death of Sergio Marchionne, Manley’s predecessor.
The decision to keep the production of heavy-duty trucks in Saltillo makes sense if one considers that, according to previous reports, the facility in Northern Mexico will be retooled to build the next generation of such pickups, although for a limited time.
However, the Reuters report does not say whether the new generation of 1500 pickups currently produced exclusively in Michigan will also be manufactured in Saltillo. The article points out that the plant will continue to produce “classic” Rams, which is how the outgoing version of the light duty pickup is now named, but it is worth noting that this move was already included in Marchionne's original plan.
Also noteworthy is that the Mexican plant is also being considered to manufacture a mid-sized pickup, tentatively a new version of the Dodge Dakota, because the Ohio plant originally slated to build it does not have enough room for this new model which is still under development.
We will then have to wait for a final decision to be made. It should come quickly if Manley does not want to lose the momentum, which would be a shame given how competitive the pickup segment in the U.S. market is.