Ram chief partly blames cockpit tech for slide in rankings

Article by Andrew Christian, on November 3, 2014

When Ram ranked third in the latest Consumer Report’s reliability survey, its brand chief already knew who to blame. Ram, a brand of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, ranked third from bottom partly because of its cockpit technology, according to brand chief Bob Hegbloom.

He noted that the average age of a pickup truck is 11 years old, adding that Ram integrated technologies into its cockpit system with “an individual that may not have had a new vehicle in 10- plus years.” Four of FCA’s brands -- Dodge, Fiat, Jeep and Ram -- all lurked in the bottom four of the rankings.

When Consumer Reports surveyed owners of 2014 model vehicles, it found out that balky touch-screens as well as other cockpit-related technology gremlins drew the most complaints among the 17 categories. Other brands earning the most complaints were Cadillac, Ford and Honda.

Just a day after Consumer Reports published the annual study, Fiat Chrysler announced Doug Betts, had left his job as head of quality at the company. Despite the poor showing in the survey, Fiat Chrysler has been showing strong gains in four and a half years, as boosted by its trucks and Jeep offerings.

Ram has seen its pickup sales jump 22 percent in the first nine months of 2014, even outpacing Chrysler Group’s 15 percent growth. That allowed Ram to gain more market share in the US, as helped by Ford’s shift to an aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup.

Fiat Chrysler controls 21 percent of the full-size pickup market in the period, marking a 22-percent gain a year ago. Ford and General Motors control 37 percent and 35 percent of the US market, respectively.

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