DaimlerChrysler AG currently does not have the production capacity to build Dodge-branded medium duty trucks, a company executive disclosed to Stark's News Service Interactive.
"We would have done it last year but we are in a sellout condiiton," the executive said at the recent Chicago Auto Show. Daimler-Chrysler North American truck plants, including those of the company's Freightliner and Sterling commercial truck divisions, are mostly at or above listed capacity.
"It would be a simple opportunity to go to a 3500 or 4500," this source disclosed. He was referring to the name DaimlerChrysler might give a Dodge Ram-model Class 3 or Class 4 pickup truck. Existing Dodge Ram light duty trucks are named 1500 and 2500 to designate them as Class 1 or Class 2 vehicles.
In an exclusive interview with SNS Interactive last Fall DaimlerChrysler Co-Chairman Robert Eaton disclosed that the company ruled out Dodge's entry into the medium duty truck market last year. "But we are rethinking that strategy now. We haven't made a decision yet," Eaton said. "It looks like much more of a possibility now."
Eaton, who will retire March 31, acknowledged that DaimlerChrysler does not have a product to compete with the F-Series Calss 3 and Class 4 medium duty trucks made by Ford Motor Co. "As we look forward we definitely don't have vehicles right now to compete for sales with F-350 and F-450 type of trucks. In the future, we'll be looking at the F-450 kind of range."
Eaton said that DaimlerChrysler might base a Dodge Class 3 or Class 4 pickup truck on a light duty Ram-model platform. "What we probably will do is take the next generation Dodge Ram pickup truck up a little bit into the high end and use some components from Freightliner Business Class trucks," he said.
Freightliner and Sterling will begin production of a medium duty Class 6 and Class 7 type vehicle this Spring. Freightliner is also developing a line of medium duty commercial vans.