DETROIT -- Strong demand for Ram pickups has Chrysler Group executives looking at breaking their vows and building an auto plant in North America.
During a conference call last week to discuss the company's $1.6 billion fourth-quarter profit, CEO Sergio Marchionne said he and other Fiat Chrysler executives were debating whether to build a third pickup plant to meet demand for Ram light- and heavy-duty pickups.
Marchionne, who vowed during the recession never to build another assembly plant in North America, says his preference is to run existing pickup plants in Warren, Mich., and Saltillo, Mexico, "flat-out."
He said he believes Chrysler could increase pickup production by 15 or 20 percent without requiring an additional plant. He placed the odds of building a new plant "under 50 percent."
Sales of Ram pickups, which were re-engineered for the 2013 model year and are Chrysler's best-selling vehicles, were up 21 percent in 2013 to 355,673. By comparison, sales of all full-sized pickups in the United States rose 17 percent last year.