Chicago Auto Show: New Dodge trucks can carry a 'chip-load' of stuff

Click for a 22-image high-res gallery of the new Dodge Ram Chassis Cab HD

Looking to break Ford's domination of the medium-duty truck market, Dodge today launched its Ram 4500 and 5500 chassis cab. Frank Kelgon, executive VP of product development, showed off the two trucks in usual Dodge flair, dumping a load of Jay's Hot Stuff chips on the floor in front of always-hungry auto journalists.

These vehicles are the foundation for just about every type of commercial application, including dump trucks, tow vehicles and delivery trucks. The Ford F-series F-450 and F-550 have been segment leaders since the Super Duty line came out. But lately GM has offered some competition with the Chevy Kodiak and GMC Topkick lines. Now Dodge wants a piece of the action. And Dodge is ready to attack all markets, even those who demand luxury as the Laramie trim level will be offered in addition to the ST and SLT.

Available in both 2- and 4-wheel-drive, the new chassis cabs can be ordered with either a regular or Quad Cab body. There are four cab-to-axle lengths for the regular cab (60, 84, 108, and 120 inches) and two (60 and 84) for the Quad Cab. Maximum GVWR for the 4500 model is 16,500 pounds; the 5500 goes up to 19,500 pounds. The GCWR for both models is 26,000 pounds. They all come standard with huge 15.4-inch brakes, and the massive 52-gallon fuel tank leaves the factory with B5 biodiesel fuel.

Dodge is also leveraging its association with Cummins, offering a 6.7-liter turbodiesel rated at 305 horsepower and 610 lb-ft of torque. The engines are backed with either a 6-speed auto or manual transmission and are 50-state legal under the latest emissions regulations.

Dodge press release after the jump.
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Dodge Expands Commercial Presence, Charges into Class 4-5 Segment with All-new 2008 Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs

All-new chassis cabs showcase dominant commercial capability, durability and dependability

* Legendary Cummins Turbo Diesel in 6.7-liter displacement (610 lb.-ft. of torque)
* Six-speed automatic or manual transmission with Power Take Off (PTO) capability
* Largest standard fuel tank in segment (52 gallons)
* Best-in-class first-gear launch provides optimum acceleration on vehicle take-off
* Largest brake rotors in segment (390 mm)
* Largest caliper piston size in segment (66 mm)
* Life-to-overhaul intervals of 350,000 miles
* Standard diesel exhaust brake system, together with class-leading brakes and pistons, extends brake life while giving driver increased control
* Commercial-grade frame (50,000-psi steel) to maximize strength and reduce weight
* Flat, "clean" frame rail -- all chassis components below top-of-frame surface to facilitate after-market upfits or retrofits
* To ensure quality, more than 1.5 million test miles by Dodge truck engineers

Chicago, Feb 7, 2007 -

Extending bold, tough, in-your-face Dodge Ram heritage to the Class 4 and 5 commercial market, Dodge expands its commercial presence and sets another commercial standard with the launch of the all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs. Both chassis cabs were revealed today at the Chicago Auto Show.

"We built the all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs for heavy-duty chassis cab buyers who want a powerful, capable and versatile commercial-quality vehicle," said George Murphy, Senior Vice President – Global Brand Marketing, Chrysler Group. "With commercial performance, durability and capability, the 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs offer dominant powertrain packages, a commercial-grade upfit-friendly chassis, and bold, 'big-rig' Ram styling."

Delivering maximum uptime, the 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs are the ultimate chassis for the commercial customer looking for a dynamic, capable work-truck. Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs feature numerous class-leading attributes including largest standard fuel tank (52 gallons), largest brake rotors (390 mm), largest caliper pistons (66 mm) and best-in-class first-gear launch for optimum acceleration on vehicle take-off.

With industry-standard 34-inch frame rail spacing and flat, clean frame rails on a one-piece C-channel rear-frame rail (50,000-psi steel), upfit-friendliness is a primary theme of the Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs. Showcasing an unrivaled upfit-friendly design that reduces costs for body-builders and customers, all chassis components are below the frame surface assuring easy adaptability and versatility for virtually any upfit application. Offered in dual-rear-wheel models, four cab-axle lengths (60, 84, 108 and 120 inches) are available.

The all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs offer leading commercial performance with a dominant powertrain package. The standard 6.7-liter Cummins High Output Turbo Diesel is loaded with 305 horsepower and 610 lb.-ft. of torque.

Bigger Commercial Presence Extends Dodge Truck Leadership
Expanding the Dodge Ram portfolio while building on Dodge's leadership position in the truck market, the all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs conquer new territory as they charge into the Class 4 and 5 chassis cab segments creating a greater commercial presence for the Dodge brand.

"The commercial vehicle market is essentially white space for the Dodge brand," said Murphy. "We will continue to fill it with bold, powerful and capable vehicles."

The Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs will compete within the Class 4 and 5 segments with a gross vehicle weight range of 14,000 to 19,500 lbs. Overall industry forecasts for this range of chassis cab vehicles were 140,000 units in 2006 with growth expectations to 156,000 units by 2012. The Class 4-5 chassis cab segment is expecting further growth to 18 percent by 2015.

U.S. sales of Class 3-5 trucks grew 42 percent in 2005 to 261,627. Class 3-5 vehicles have a gross vehicle weight range between 10,001 lbs. to 19,500 lbs.

Targeted at small-business tradesmen, fleet customers and traditional chassis cab users, the Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs expand on a solid commercial foundation and lineup of full-size van, minivan and body-on-frame commercial vehicles joining the Dodge Ram 2500/3500 Box-Off models, Dodge Ram 3500 Chassis Cab, Dodge Sprinter, Dodge Ram pickup, and Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan cargo vans in the Dodge commercial vehicle lineup.

Powertrain Options Ensure Powerhouse Performance
Dominant commercial performance is assured with the 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs as commercial customer specialty needs are met with superior capability, durability and performance.

"Delivering premium commercial performance, capability and durability, the all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs offer the segment's most potent powertrain combinations in work trucks that get the job done," said Mike Donoughe, Vice President – Body-on-frame Product Team.

Maintaining its reign at the top of the heavy-duty diesel pickup segment, the standard Cummins engine generates 305 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and 610 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm. The legendary engine also delivers superior fuel economy while ensuring durability and low cost of ownership for the commercial customer.

Providing superior trailer towing, acceleration, throttle response and drivability, the 6.7-liter engine is not only more powerful, it's also cleaner with B5 biodiesel compatibility and a reduction in particulates and nitrogen oxide (NOx) that comply with the 50-state 2007 heavy-duty emission standards. As durable as it is powerful, the Cummins 6.7-liter turbo-diesel engine also has life-to-major overhaul intervals of 350,000 miles.

Completing the dynamic powertrain package, the all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs offer a six-speed automatic transmission with Power Take Off (PTO) capability or a six-speed manual transmission with PTO capability. An available electronic-shift transfer case is offered and a factory-installed exhaust brake contributes to both safety and superior brake life.

"Job Rated" Commercial-grade Chassis with Superior Suspension System
The Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs lineup of 4x2, 4x4, dual-rear-wheel, regular and Quad Cab models are "Job-rated," meaning they are designed, engineered, tested and built to meet the rigid standards of commercial truck buyers.

Armed with Dodge Ram Heavy Duty's superior suspension system, beefed up even more for commercial applications, Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs provide expanded capability and durability with a commercial-grade chassis mated to a one-piece C-channel rear-frame rail (50,000 psi steel).

Two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive models feature a recirculating ball system that provides precise response and an on-center steering feel through lower internal friction. Improved power steering lines contribute to the delivery of precise feel and response for better handling. Featuring solid-beam front and rear axles, and a five-link, coil-spring front suspension with beam axle, a front and rear link-type sway bar and heavy-duty tubular shock absorbers are standard.

The rear suspension on two- and four-wheel-drive models is equipped with leaf springs and includes standard two-stage springs as part of the spring design for greater load-carrying capability.

Four cab-axle lengths (60, 84, 108 and 120 inches) are available. Maximum Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) for 4500 models is 16,500. For 5500 models, the maximum GVWR is 19,500 lbs. The Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) for both 4500 and 5500 models is 26,000 lbs.

The standard diesel exhaust brake system, together with class-leading brakes and pistons, provides extended brake life and increased driver control while contributing to enhanced safety performance. Standard four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock braking system (ABS) ensure superior safety and crash-avoidance capability.

Unmatched Versatility and Upfit-Friendliness
Meeting all cab-axle and industry upfitter specifications, the 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs bring unmatched versatility and upfit-friendliness with an enhanced commercial-grade, user-friendly chassis to the Class 4 and 5 chassis segments. Flat, "clean" frame rails with industry-standard 34-inch frame rail spacing provide versatility for virtually any upfit application. All chassis components are below the frame surface to facilitate after-market upfits or retrofits.

Bolt-on and riveted-on exhaust hanger brackets provide increased upfitter flexibility, and riveted cross-members behind the cab allow for easier modification. The one-piece C-channel frame, shear plate or u-bolt access along the length of the frame, and shear plate mounting locations identified along the frame contribute to the Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs' upfitter friendliness.

The fuel filler is routed through the frame and an optional mid-ship fuel tank frees up more space behind the rear axle for special upfit applications. Fuel and brake lines are routed together on the frame's left side to make better use of space along the frame, which also has clearance for rear-exhaust routing.

Electrical connections are user-friendly thanks to three-fused battery feeds routed into the cab and on to the rear of the chassis. A high-current 50-amp ground stud is located at the rear of the frame. Upfitter wire circuits and electrical schematics are identified in the body builder guide.

Together, these unique upfit-friendly enhancements provide a streamline assembly process that reduces costs for upfitters, second-stage manufacturers and customers.

Bold, Tough, Dodge Design
Conveying commercial power and vigor, along with instantly recognizable, unmistakable bold Ram styling and design, the all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs stand out in the Class 4-5 chassis cab segments.

Robust and loaded with a "big-truck" look and feel, its enormous crosshair grille and large headlamps are the dominant focal point of a vehicle that retains the most recognizable design signature of any mid-size truck on the market.

Reinforced by an equally bold hood and fender combination, the dynamic front appearance is anchored by twin, large 7- x 10-inch trailer tow mirrors as standard. Beneath each fender are 19.5-inch wheels. The Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs are available in three trim lines: ST, SLT and Laramie.

Comfortable and Convenient Interiors
The 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs successfully blend full-size interior comfort with commercial convenience. Showcasing an easy-to-navigate instrument panel cluster, the user-friendly wide center stack contains air conditioning, heating, ventilation and audio system controls. Comfortable, oversized seats, including available bucket seats with leather trim, provide relaxing support while adding both a rich appearance and upscale atmosphere to a commercial truck.

Quad Cab models provide seating for six passengers and are equipped with four standard doors and 60/40 folding rear seats. Demonstrating interior functionality and capability, seat cushions fold up to create a tall storage area from floor to ceiling. An optional floor section under the back seat folds open to form a flat-load floor with additional storage in each of the foot wells.

Delivering just as much versatility and flexibility, regular cab models provide generous storage behind the seat and allow for considerable travel use and ease in reclining for both driver and passengers.

More Than 1.5 Million Test Miles Logged by Dodge Truck Engineers
Commercial customers expect to put their trucks to work and get exceptional performance, capability and durability. In placing an extraordinary emphasis on quality, heavy-duty results were achieved as the all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs take full advantage of modern technology and deliver quality by the ton with more than 1.5 million customer-equivalent miles logged by Dodge Truck engineers during the vehicle's development.

All-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs Safety and Security Features
The all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs provide commercial vehicle customers a high level of safety and security technology.

Following is a list of safety and security features found in the all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs:

* BeltAlert – Enhanced seat belt reminder system. If a vehicle is driven without the driver being properly belted, the system will periodically activate a chime and illuminate an icon in the instrument cluster to remind the driver to buckle up
* Child-Protection Rear-door Locks – Allow customers to disable the rear-door, inside-release handle. A small lever on the door-shut face operates this feature
* Energy-absorbing Steering Column – Steering column utilizes two coaxial tubes that move relative to each other in order to allow the column to move forward for enhanced energy-absorption during an impact
* Enhanced Accident Response System (EARS) – In the event of an impact, this system makes it easier for emergency personnel to see and reach occupants by turning on the interior lighting and unlocking doors after air bag deployment
* Four-wheel Anti-lock-brake System (ABS) – Senses and prevents wheel lockup, offering improved steering control under extreme braking and/or slippery conditions
* Integrated Remote Keyless Entry Transmitter and Ignition Key – The remote keyless entry locks and unlocks doors and turns on interior lamps. If the vehicle is equipped with a vehicle-theft security alarm, the remote also arms and disarms that system
* Knee Bolsters – The steering column lower instrument panel and the glove-box door are reinforced to further protect occupants during frontal impacts. They both restrain and position the occupant properly and enable air bags to work effectively
* Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) – This system helps ease the installation of compatible aftermarket child seats
* Multi-stage Air Bag System – Offering enhanced protection, this system is designed to deploy based on the severity of an impact
* Security Alarm – Arms and disarms alarm feature through remote control, flashes lights and sounds horn upon unauthorized entry
* Sentry Key Engine Immobilizer Theft Deterrent System – This utilizes an engine key that has an embedded transponder with a pre-programmed security key code. When the key is inserted into the ignition, the controller sends a random number to the transponder and the engine is allowed to start. If the correct key is not used, the engine will shut off after only a few seconds
* Three-point Seat Belts – Front outboard seating positions and all rear seating positions in the Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs have lap and shoulder belts

Balanced Production Thanks to Flexible Manufacturing Process
The all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs will be built at Chrysler Group's Saltillo Assembly Plant in Coahuila, Mexico. One of the company's most flexible plants, the Saltillo Plant – which also produces the all-new Dodge Ram 3500 Chassis Cab, Dodge Ram Mega Cab, Dodge Ram Power Wagon, and Dodge Ram Heavy Duty 2500 and 3500 models – takes on production of the Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs as part of the company's

Flexible Manufacturing Strategy (FMS)
The FMS approach allows the company to not only balance production with demand, but to also efficiently build low-volume vehicles that take advantage of market niches, and to quickly shift production volumes between different models within a single plant or among multiple plants.

"FMS is a key enabler in our ability to bring the all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs to market," said Frank Ewasyshyn, Executive Vice President – Manufacturing. "It not only allows us to produce a high-quality product, but to do so faster and at a lower cost."

For production of the Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs, Chrysler Group recently invested an additional $48 million into the plant, which follows a $210 million investment in 2005 for production of the all-new 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab. Enlarging the facility by 120,000 square feet enables the plant to produce commercial vehicles and accommodate new frame configurations. In addition, the expansion increases production capacity and enables the plant to manage the added complexity of the Dodge Ram 4500/5500's all-new commercial-grade chassis and suspensions, including two cab-axle lengths, regular and Quad Cab versions, 4x2 and 4x4 variants, and single- and dual-rear-wheel models.

The Saltillo Assembly Plant has 2,100 employees working on two shifts and is one of five Chrysler Group production facilities in Mexico.

Dodge Commercial Vehicles
As part of DaimlerChrysler, the world's leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles, Dodge continues to increase the breadth of its commercial products and offers a comprehensive array of vehicles and services designed with business customers in mind. Along with the Dodge Ram 2500/3500 Box-Off models and the Dodge Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs – the Class 3-5 segments' most powerful, capable and upfit-friendly work trucks – Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan cargo vans complement a growing Dodge commercial lineup that includes the class-leading Dodge Sprinter, which continues its legacy and leadership as the top-performing commercial van in the marketplace.

Dodge BusinessLink
Launched in 1999 and offering no-cost enrollment, Dodge BusinessLink is a full-service commercial program comprised of a select network of Dodge dealers who know and understand the unique vehicle needs of small businesses, fleet managers and other commercial vehicle customers. Providing exclusive benefits, BusinessLink dealers offer unprecedented business assistance including dedicated commercial account managers and sales teams, dealer inventories representing a higher mix of work-truck and other commercial vehicles, next-day service and technicians, extended hours to minimize downtime, free loaner vehicles and more. BusinessLink also includes our "On The Job" program which offers discounts on upfits and direct cash incentives and savings on almost all Dodge commercial vehicles.

Dodge Brand
With a U.S. market share of 6 percent, Dodge is the Chrysler Group's best-selling brand and the fifth largest nameplate in the U.S. automotive market. In 2006, Dodge sold than 1.3 million vehicles in the global market. Dodge continues to lead the minivan market with a 20 percent market share in the U.S. In the highly competitive truck market, Dodge has a 15 percent market share. Dodge is also entering key European volume segments.

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