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Ram = variety

by David Zatz on

Years ago, one could order a car with any number of different options, resulting in Lee Iaccoca’s observation that, when he first arrived at Chrysler, the line could conceivably build a hundred thousand cars, none of which were identical. Following the example of Japanese and German cars, which only allowed variation in option packages (if you want air conditioning, you need to the higher trim, FM radio, tachometer, and tinted windows. Want the whiteface gauges? Then you get the sunroof and sport tires), Chrysler streamlined cars dramatically to reduce variation.

Pickups, on the other hand, have resisted such moves. You can still specify your axle ratio (a practice long gone for cars), engine, cab size, bed size, and numerous other features, along with the usual options, and in some cases, even the transmission.

A company spokesman told journalists at a recent Warren assembly plant open house that there were, in fact, 286,297 total combinations of Ram 1500s that could be built, between the different engines, axles, transmissions, trim levels, and such (presumably this also includes different paint colors, but excludes specialty fleet paints).

Recently, the Warren factory manager told reporters how the company was dealing with this complexity, including the use of “parts kits” sent along with individual trucks to prevent the use of the wrong parts.

GM and Ford also have a bewildering array of pickup truck options and variations.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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