Chrysler to begin U.S. sales of natural gas-powered pickups in 2012

Article by Anita Panait, on January 13, 2012

Chrysler Group LLC will commence selling natural gas-powered pickups in the U.S. this year, CEO Sergio Marchionne said during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Marchionne said they will limit the number of units available at first, depending on the distribution networks. The natural gas engines of the pickup were developed by Chrysler’s parent, Fiat S.p.A., in Europe.

Chrysler plans to deliver vehicles with the technology to the U.S. by 2017. David Elshoff, a Chrysler spokesman, said the company will first offer the natural gas pickups to fleet customers, but declined to comment if they will also sell the vehicle to particular buyers like government or commercial customers. Marchionne remarked that natural-gas engines are the “best option,” noting that they are cheaper than other engine technologies.

He also criticized electric cars, which are being offered by rivals Toyota, General Motors and Nissan, saying that they present “too many obstacles” like the long recharge time for batteries.

Customers will also find the natural gas option cheaper at just $3,000, compared with $3,300 for diesel and $8,000 for an electric hybrid, according to Alfredo Altavilla, chief of Fiat’s Iveco truck unit.  However, stations for refueling natural gas units are still limited, with 1,000 of them catering to 112,000 vehicles in the U.S. as of December 2010.

Ram Truck Brand has introduced the Ram Outdoorsman feature package, a theme intended for North American outdoor enthusiasts.

The Ram Outdoorsman comprehensively incorporates all the most useful features for hunters, fishermen, campers and boaters. It is an integrated package offering convenience, off-road capability and trailer towing hardware, and its name should be resonant among its target customers.

Fred Diaz, President and CEO – Ram Truck Brand, Chrysler Group LLC, said that they asked their customers who were boaters, campers, fishing enthusiasts and hunters to list their desired features in a new truck. They said they wanted more capability, more cargo and gear room, greater trail readiness and, of course, affordability.

The typical Ram Heavy Duty owner is a true outdoorsman. Demographically, 47 percent hunt, 57 percent fresh water fish, 33 percent salt water fish, 36 percent own power boats and 37 percent tow camping trailers. Inclusively, among all full-size pickup truck owners, 62 percent hunt, fish or camp.

Actually, many Ram Truck engineers also hunt, fish, boat and camp, and this helped them conceptualise features aimed to satisfy their target customers’ practical needs, who are expected to often use their Ram trucks for towing or long, remote trips.

Ram Outdoorsman package offers an appropriately rugged outward appearance and includes trailer-towing enhancements, interior and exterior convenience, lighting improvements, all-terrain tyres and underbody protection.

Ram Truck presented the Outdoorsman at the Professional Outdoor Media Association's (POMA) fifth annual national business conference.

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