Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sees an opening in the midsize pickup segment that the rugged Jeep Gladiator can't fill.
It'll be up to Ram to close that hole.
FCA CEO Mike Manley said during an earnings call Friday that the Ram team is "focused on solving a metric ton midsize truck solution for us because it's a big part of the portfolio and growth we want to achieve."
For FCA, it is coming down to how best to execute a platform for the midsize Ram pickup.
"Being able to find a cost-effective platform in a region where we can build it with low cost and it still being applicable in the market is what they're struggling with at the moment," Manley said. "I want that problem solved, frankly, because it's a clear hole in our portfolio. It will not be filled by Gladiator because Gladiator is a very, very different mission. Trust me, they're focused on it. We need to get it fixed soon."
Suppliers told Automotive News last year that the midsize Ram pickup would be built at the same plant in Toledo, Ohio, where the Gladiator is produced.
Ram's last midsize pickup, the Dakota, was dropped in 2011 after a 25-year run.
The U.S. midsize pickup market, which grew 13 percent in the first four months of the year, has become more competitive, with newer entries from General Motors and Ford's revived Ranger. Volkswagen and Hyundai are also looking at entering the segment.
In addition to peering into FCA's future product pipeline, Manley gave an update on the Ram Classic, an old pickup that still has life left.
Manley said the Ram Classic isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The Classic, he said, will enable Ram to make gains in government and commercial sales.
Even though the Classic lacks some of the bells and whistles of its successor, dealers have said it retains wide appeal among consumers not ready to absorb the higher payments of the redesigned 2019 Ram truck and commercial clients who need basic work vehicles. Some dealers predict the Classic will remain a viable option throughout 2019 at least.
Manley sees no reason to change the company's two large-truck approach at this point.
"The strategy has worked well for us," he said. "The Classic is what I would call the real traditional workman's truck."