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The Assembly Line at Warren Ram Truck Plant

The Assembly Line at Warren Ram Truck Plant

 Robert Schwarzli/President of the Ontario Ram Diesel Owners Association- “A once in a lifetime experience.” It’s a term used far too often as a general description. For a small group of Ram enthusiasts, touring the holy grail of all things Ram was literally a once in a lifetime experience! One-hundred lucky members of the Turbo Diesel Register (TDR) got a chance to tour the Warren truck plant, Dodge City, in Warren, Michigan where Dakota and Ram Trucks are built.

So what is the plant like? Picture this: 4.2 MILLION square feet and almost a mile long! More than 900 Ram Dakota and Ram 1500 trucks come off the line EVERY DAY! To top it off, this is a closed plant; meaning even most of Chrysler’s own staff is denied entry. It’s locked down tighter than a vault at Fort Knox and we’re getting a tour! But I am getting ahead of myself as usual. Let’s get back to the start of the story.

Ram Trucks Plant Tour

Ram Trucks Plant Tour

The Turbo Diesel Register is a Ram/Cummins pickup club. The club’s Ontario, Canada chapter was able to book a tour for 100 people. Registration was on a first come, first serve basis and the tour booked in less than 36 hours! Club members from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, Virginia, Florida, Ontario, New York, Minnesota, Connecticut, Georgia, and even California and Washington showed up for the tour.

The group started early Wednesday morning with the destination of Warren set in everyone’s GPS. In the case of your author, I would be driving my heavily modified 1990 W250 Ram on the five-day tour, covering over 1500 miles. Our Ontario group convoyed to Michigan, and when we arrived at the plant, the parking lot was already buzzing with TDR members from all over the continent.

Vehicles in the parking lot consisted of Ram trucks ranging from original 1989 Cummins Rams, right up to the new 2011 trucks. Upon arrival, we checked in and proceeded to the plant auditorium, where a few Ram trucks were waiting. The truck mix consisted of a 3500 Cummins cutaway show truck, a new 1500 Long Horn, and a 1500 rolling chassis with no body, to allow for maximum chassis inspection. It was just amazing to see all of the engineering that is normally covered up by the body in person.

Q & A at the Warren Truck Plant

Q & A at the Warren Truck Plant

Around 2:00 PM, a large group of Ram engineers arrived to join us and answer in-depth questions regarding the trucks; they were joined by a special guest – Ram CEO Fred Diaz. You don’t get to meet an automaker’s CEO every day. Once everyone had arrived, the group had a photo shoot on the front lawn of the plant to remember the occasion.

Once the photos were done, we watched a presentation on the history of the plant, and we were shown a map of the plant layout. The plant does its own stamping, painting, welding, and assembly, and was originally opened as a Dodge truck plant back in 1938. Talk about a flexible, well built plant to still be in use over 60 years later!

With the plant history fresh in our minds, out onto the plant floor we went. Now, when you tour a plant of this size, it takes a long time to walk from one end to the other. So for our tour, we all got to ride on oversized golf cars. This also prevented us from walking into walls or other people due to the distraction from the assembly line!

TDR at the Warren Truck Plant

TDR at the Warren Truck Plant

So what did we see? What we saw was beyond words. We started off in the cab welding area. Here, robots take multiple sides of the cab and box, brings them all together automatically, and then welds them into one solid piece. Next up, doors and remaining sheet metal go on the body, then the body heads for paint.

Next stop was the frame assembly. The bare frame comes into the plant on railcars and is then placed onto the assembly line, where it is fitted with axles, suspension, brakes, fuel tank, wiring, steering components, and even the motor with transmission attached. Remember that body that went to paint? Well, once the chassis is complete, the body is dropped down from the ceiling by a special crane and lowered onto the truck frame.

From this point they install the interior, and any remaining body items like headlights, taillights, and under hood components are connected. By the end of the assembly line, the trucks are 100% finished and even have fuel filled into the tanks. Last stop for the trucks is a rolling chassis test to ensure that the truck accelerates smoothly and everything functions as it should. After the test, each truck goes out the door and is loaded onto a truck to head to your nearest dealer!

Touring the Warren Ram Trucks Plant

Touring the Warren Ram Trucks Plant

With the tour complete we went back into the auditorium and had a question and answer session with the Ram and Cummins engineers. Questions covered everything from body components to driveline changes – there were even a few relating to future product.

By this time the pizza had arrived, and dinner commenced with engineers, plant managers, Chrysler staff, and a few plant workers – all eating alongside the members of the TDR. With dinner coming to an end, the TDR expressed their thanks to the people of Ram for allowing this opportunity to take place. Before your author left, I made one last stop. My truck had come off the very assembly line that we toured, but on October 23, 1989. It had come home to its birthplace, so a few special photos were in order to commemorate the occasion!

As always, click on any of the images in the post to see more photos of Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Vehicles. Thanks again for checking out Chrysler Catchall!

2011 Ram 1500 Express

2011 Ram 1500 Express

April 7, 2011 , Dallas- The Ram 1500 Express — originally announced Feb. 15, 2011 under the code name Adventurer — is a new Ram Truck model aimed squarely at first-time buyers and owners who are looking for a vehicle with performance and style that they can customize and make their own.

“We’re excited about the addition of this new model to the Ram 1500 lineup. There’s nothing that compares to the high-performance value represented by the Ram 1500 Express. Ram 1500 Express combines great looks and MPG along with HEMI horsepower, torque, towing and payload, all at a fantastic price. It gives the youth or first-time truck buyer an opportunity to show off a great looking ride, with unsurpassed V8 entry-level capability, in a tremendous value-priced package.”

-Fred Diaz
Ram Truck President and CEO
Head of National Sales – Chrysler Group LLC

 

2011 Ram 1500 Express

2011 Ram 1500 Express

Plans to launch the new Ram 1500 Express were pulled ahead after company executives saw a groundswell of support for the then-just-announced Ram Tradesman.

The Ram Tradesman — unveiled Feb. 9, 2011 at the Chicago Auto Show — is a value-priced, HEMI®-powered Ram 1500 regular cab truck that appeals to a cost-conscious, new-vehicle buyer who doesn’t want to give up performance and capability.

The new Ram 1500 Express — like the Ram Tradesman — offers buyers a standard HEMI V8 engine with a 20 mpg rating for the same price competitors are charging for their V6 engines.

Mopar has announced that it will have hundreds of accessories available for buyers who are looking to personalize their Ram 1500 Express.

2011 Ram 1500 Express

2011 Ram 1500 Express

“Given that the Ram 1500 Express is an aggressively priced truck, owners will have plenty left over to personalize and customize their ride. For this truck, Mopar will offer more than 300 quality-tested accessories from which to choose.”

-Pietro Gorlier
President and CEO of Mopar

2011 Ram 1500 Express

2011 Ram 1500 Express

Loaded with Features

In addition to the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine with 390 horsepower and 407 lb.-ft. of torque, Ram 1500 Express comes loaded with features that emphasize its high-performance character.

The first thing drivers will notice is the Ram 1500 Express’ racy, monochromatic paint scheme. A body-colored grille with black honeycomb inserts, body-colored front fascia and body-colored rear fascia with chrome-tipped dual exhausts shout “high-performance.” The new Ram model will also get fog lamps and 20-inch aluminum wheels with locking lug nuts. There’s also a locking tailgate, cargo lamp, rear-bumper step pad, 6” x 9” side-view mirrors and rear wheel-well liners.

Standard features also include a 160-amp alternator, 26-gallon fuel tank, 3.55 rear axle ratio, 700-amp maintenance-free battery, four and seven-pin trailer wiring harness, heavy-duty front and rear shock absorbers, front and rear stabilizer bars, power rack-and-pinion steering, halogen headlamps, heavy-duty engine and transmission cooling and a full-size spare tire.

Inside, the 1500 Express will get a heavy-duty vinyl 40/20/40 split-bench seat, and buyers will have a choice of vinyl or carpeted floor covering. Other features include air conditioning, an instrument cluster with tachometer and 120-mph speedometer, 12-volt auxiliary power outlet, four-spoke tilt steering wheel, six-speaker media center with CD and MP3 player, as well as audio jack input for mobile devices, automatic headlamps, behind-the-seat storage bins, driver and passenger assist handles, power accessory delay, rear dome lamp, rear-view day/night mirror, tinted glass windows, tip start and variable intermittent windshield wipers.

Safety features include advanced multistage front air bags, supplemental front curtain and side air bags, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, electronic stability control, height-adjust shoulder belts, sentry key theft deterrent system and tire pressure monitoring warning lamp.

Ram 1500 Express is available in Bright Silver Metallic, Bright White, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl, Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl; Deep Water Blue Pearl; Flame Red, Hunter Green Pearl and Mineral Gray Metallic.

2011 Ram 1500 Express

2011 Ram 1500 Express

Options for Personalization

Buyers can choose their own options. In addition to a Class IV receiver hitch, Ram 1500 Express is available with long list of options.

Factory-installed exterior options include Mopar chrome tubular side steps, Mopar chrome steel bed rails, folding and heated trailer-tow power mirrors with supplemental signals and courtesy lamps, spray-in bedliner and under-rail bedliner.

Inside, buyers can choose a cloth 40/20/40 split-bench seat, Uconnect voice command with Bluetooth, rear-view auto-dim mirror, remote USB port, sliding rear window, cruise control, instrument cluster with vehicle information center display screen, tire pressure monitoring display, power one-touch windows, remote keyless entry, Sirius Satellite Radio and either carpet or rubber floor mats.

There’s also choice of two optional rear-axle ratios (3.21, 3.92), anti-spin differential, engine block heater and trailer brake controller.

Ram 1500 Express comes as a regular cab, short-bed model, with a choice of 4×2 or 4×4 drivetrain. When equipped with an optional Class IV hitch, the new Ram 1500 Express will tow a maximum trailer weight of 10,450 lbs.

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for the new Ram 1500 Express will start at $23,830, including $975 destination charge. It will arrive in Ram Truck dealerships in second quarter 2011.

To see more photos of Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Vehicles, simply click any of the images in the post! I’ve also included the most recent edition of “Under The Pentastar” below. Thanks again for checking out Chrysler Catchall!

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