Ram has just released the first official pictures of the second generation Ram 700. It is the smallest pickup truck that the American brand sells in Latin America except for Mercosur markets – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Consequently, the 700 is the entry point to this truck-aspirational brand that’s the only brand growing within the FCA group.
The Ram 700 is based on the recently launched new Fiat Strada, the world’s most popular small pickup, available only in Mercosur. FCA decided to drop this nameplate outside this market, and instead rebadge the model under Ram brand. The result is another cool product for Ram and the slowly drop of Fiat brand from half of Latin American markets.
Ram sells twice as Fiat in Latam – Mercosur
There is a reason for the rebadge. Fiat is not popular at all outside Mercosur, and even worse, it has a bad reputation. Some of the bad image is related to quality problems in the past, but mostly because of the lack of strong presence in those markets. In many countries, Fiat has not had a consistent presence over the past decades.
The unsteady operation has led to very poor sales up to the point that Fiat is in many cases a brand from the past. In addition to this, it does not have a competitive lineup. Its city-cars, very popular in Brazil, are not what most of consumers in Chile, Mexico or Colombia are looking for. As in the rest of the world, consumers are looking for SUVs, and Fiat has nothing of that.
Last year, Ram sold 31,000 vehicles in Latin America, excluding Mercosur. Ram’s volume was more than twice the vehicles sold by Fiat, at 14,500 units. They are both marginal players because overall sales in the region totaled 2.4 million units. However, Ram as a brand has by far more potential than Fiat, a brand associated to the past.
With the new 700, Ram aims to increase its presence in the region. It is modern, good looking, and still a capable and affordable pickup; this is exactly what many consumers in Latin America need but can’t find. Last year, global sales of small pickups totaled 275,000 units, of which 59% had the Fiat/Ram logo.
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Rationalising brands is vital. RAM becomes the heavy duty trucks, while FIAT becomes the chic city and small car brand.