Ateco has announced the launch of a new RAM model with two 1500 pick up models set to arrive in Australia in July.

Ateco already imports and converts RAM 2500 and 3500 heavy duty models and have sold close to 1000 units since launching the larger trucks here in early 2017. The company has an engineering tie up with Walkinshaw Engineering in Melbourne where left hand drive RAMS are imported and converted to right hand drive on a small scale production line.

The addition of the 1500 model gives the company an entry level model that is more palatable than the bigger pick up trucks it already sells and it has some ambitious sales target with the hope of selling around 2110 1500s in the first year around 3500 in the second year and 4500 in the third year or 2020. This compares with the almost 770,000 RAMS Chrysler believes it will sell in the USA this year, a mere drop in the ocean and underlines why Chrysler is not interested in building these things in RHD down the line.

Ateco believes it has the right niche weapon for the upper end of the Pick Up market particularly with a starting price of $79,990 for the entry level Express ranging up to the 1500 Laramie at $99,950 plus on roads. The 1500 RAM boasts the only V8 in the segment, the biggest towing capacity, the biggest tub and Ateco claims it ‘redraws key benchmarks for the fastest growing market sector in the Australia vehicle market’.

With the demise of the Holden and Falcon utes it is the only petrol V8 ute now available on the local market.

The price for the Express puts RAM firmly in the realm of the top end Japanese and European based utes including VW Amarok, Benz X Class, Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux in terms of price but with considerably more load and towing capacity.

The Express boasts the bigger 6’4” tub and the Laramie has the shorter 5’7” tub with extra leg room in the dual cab both come with a 3.5 tonne toing capacity or if specified with a lower 3.92 diff this can be bumped up to 4.5 tonnes, around a tonne ahead of the best on offer from the Japanese and Euro rivals.

“The RAM 1500 is built and equipped to meet the changing demands of the Australian Ute buyer who are demanding more towing capacity, more space inside and out, and better performance,” said General Manager of RAM Trucks Australia, Alex Stewart,

“With a maximum towing capacity of up to 4.5 tonnes, it is a clear full tonne ahead of its rivals and with the legendary Hemi V8 under the bonnet, it has both power and a chassis designed by the world leading experts to safely tow that extra weight. The RAM 1500 has a choice of two cab sizes, both which offer a level of space, and therefore comfort, of which other lesser utes may only dream.”

The space story continues with the two tub sizes, the largest six feet four inches long or nearly two metres and both more than 1.2 metres wide between the wheel arches which means you can fit a standard pallet between the sheet metal.

As mentioned there is a choice of axle ratios and the optional and unique RamBoxes, two 240 litre lockers on either side of the tub that may be used as secure storage or as a pair of ice-filled cool boxes. They come at a price adding around $5000 to the bottom line.

The RAM is no midget whichever way you look at it. It is 5.8 metres long and a little over two metres wide making it significantly larger than other utes in the market. However it is 200mm shorter and 50mm lower than its big brother the 2500 not to mention being 157 kg lighter.

The Express is said to come with what RAM calls which is as we said slightly smaller than the Laramie, the Quad Cab has an interior volume of 3.3 cubic metres, still places bigger than the majority of conventional Utes, while impressive levels of shoulder and hip room make it a comfortable place to be, front or back.

The Laramie has a full crew cab and boasts 3.5 cubic metres of interior space with a rear seat legroom length of more than a metre; it is as spacious in the back as the front.

The 1500 Express comes with colour-coded grille, bumpers and trim as well as leather lined dashboard and a comprehensive equipment list. This includes tow bar, sprayed on tub liner, keyless entry and remote starter

The RAM Laramie comes with chrome grille and trim along with luxury features including heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel and rear seats as well as leather trim, deep pile carpeting and an extensive equipment list including everything ion the Express plus a larger 8 inch colour Uconnect screen in the middle of the dash and climate control air.

Both models have coil spring multi ling rear suspension, 20 inch wheels side steps of varying lengths (wheel to wheel on Laramie, cab length on Express).

The engine bay also features active grille shutters, which only allow the right amount of cool air to enter engine bay. This means more consistent engine temperatures, faster warm up from cold starts and less aerodynamic drag.

The 5.7 litre Hemi power of the RAM 1500 is put to the ground through its eight-speed Torqueflight auto, with a rotary e-shift dial replacing both column and floor shifters. The big V8 pumps out 291kW of power and 556 Nm of torque and if driven carefully will deliver 9.9 ltres per 100km, although we feel this would mostly be downhill with the wind behind you.

A 3.6 litre turbo diesel V6 will be available in December along with a special Black edition of the Express with menacing black wheels, badges and trim. The Black model will add about $10,000 to the Express.

Not surprisingly four-wheel disc brakes are standard on all Ram 1500 models because there is a quite a bit of mass to pull up and when the big Hemi lifts its skirts it can generate some serious velocity so big brakes are absolutely necessary.

The front rotors measure 336 mm diameter and use dual-piston calipers while at the rear the rotors are 352 mm with single-piston calipers. ABS brakes a suite of of electric chassis assistance systems are standard.

“The RAM 1500 resets the ability, value and style measures for the Australian Ute market,” says Mr Stewart. “We fully expect it to have as dramatic effect on RAM sales in Australia as it has done in the USA, where the RAM brand has enjoyed eight years of consecutive growth, making RAM a significant player in the top end of the Australian Ute market.”

Its an ambitious ask   for a premium ute but having sold 1000 of the bigger models already we reckon Ateco has done its home work, although a recent spike in fuel prices may be a disincentive for some buyers, but then again there is a number of buyers who love big V8s.

The 1500 RAMs go on sale in July and we are hoping to have a road test by August, stay tuned