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New Head of Ram Trucks Appointed by Chrysler

Robert Hegbloom has been appointed by Chyrsler Group as the new Head of Ram Truck Brand.

Hegbloom joined Chysler in 1986 and previously served as the Director of Ram Truck Brand. As part of his new role, he will become a part of Chrysler Group’s NAFTA leadership team.

The former president and CEO of Ram Truck Brand, Reid Bigland, was appointed to a new position with Alfa Romeo and is a member of the NAFTA leadership program as well.

Bigland has been working with Hegbloom in the establishment of the Ram Truck Brand after it’s separation from Dodge. “It is appropriate that Bob now be given the opportunity to continue and intensify the work started by Reid,” Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group says.

“Both Reid and Bob have grown tremendously as leaders in the last five years and the time has come for them to have expanded leadership roles,” added Marchionne.

2014 Ram 1500 Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year

For the second year in a row, the Ram 1500 won Motor Trends’ Truck of the Year. In 2013, Ram rocked it with air suspension and an eight-speed automatic. For 2014, not only did they convince the judges that it deserved consideration for a second year, they also proved a new diesel engine was enough to warrant inclusion.

Having been more than 15 years since a manufacturer has offered a ½-ton diesel truck, it had become part of the reason why diesels had all but disappeared from America. It hardened consumers’ belief that diesel is for slow-moving, smoke-spewing trucks. If you haven’t driven a modern diesel, you might still think that way.

Ram’s new EcoDiesel is a 3.0 liter DOHC turbodiesel V-6 that produces 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. In addition, it returns impressive fuel economy numbers of 20 mpg city and 28 mpg+ highway.

Motor Trend judges rated the EcoDiesel the highest in ease of towing. Commenters said it “Doesn’t feel like it’s struggling at all. Once it gets up to speed, it chugs along, smooth, fairly quiet, and with litter effort. Operates at low rpm, and it’s easy to forget you’re towing.”

The Motor Trend Truck of the Year has been awarded since 1979, and has never given the award to the same truck two years in a row. The Ram 1500 makes history because it offers all the things buyers want in a truck: choice, value, great design, and more than enough power and torque.

Ram made a big decision bringing a diesel to the full-size market. It’s a bold move that ultimately made Ram 1500 the 2014 Truck of the Year.

Interview: Ram executive says first company with a 30 mpg pickup ‘wins’

Ram’s 1500 EcoDiesel, the first light-duty diesel pickup in the United States in more than a decade, was launched earlier this year. While sales are strong, Ram is still working to increase the supply of the 3.0-liter Italian made turbo diesel as engineers are not satisfied with the 28 mpg EPA highway rating. They are striving for 30 mpg, and eventually higher.

Bob Hegbloom, Ram brand director, was interviewed in Automotive News staff reporter Richard Truett. Check out their Q&A below:

Q: The Ram EcoDiesel, at 28 mpg highway, carries the highest EPA rating ever for a full-sized pickup. What are customers telling you about their real-world fuel economy? Is it close to the window label?

A: Typically with consumers, when you talk to them, they see the label and they expect they will never get to the number on the label, maybe only close to it. What’s happened in reality with the EcoDiesel is that people are taking screen shots (of the fuel economy gauge), and we’ve heard third-party endorsements of people who say they are blowing away 28. We’ve got people out there who are saying they are getting into the low 30s consistently with their truck.

Q: Are these people trying to squeeze out maximum fuel economy, or are they driving normally?

A: Just driving regularly, they are beating that 28 mpg number, and that is what is so surprising to most customers. So, now there is this social environment going on where people are posting what their actual mileage is. I’ve got one with 20,000 miles on it. And even my average is incredible. I am averaging about 25 mpg, and I do a lot of city as well as stop-and-go driving to work.

Q: What’s the potential for increasing the EPA highway rating from 28? Is 30 mpg the goal?

A: We can’t stand still in this market. If you do, someone will surpass you. There are always ways to improve your efficiency, and that is what we are going to continue to work on.

Q: Is 30 mpg attainable without re-engineering the truck?

A: The first manufacturer that gets to 30 mpg wins. We are seeing that with our 28 mpg EcoDiesel as well as the 25 mpg on the Pentastar V-6 model that fuel economy is so important. We are seeing it in the share gains and the growth for the brand. That’s a number that is out there, but I don’t think you can stop there.

Q: So Ram eventually will have 30 mpg on the window sticker?

A: I just want to have continuous improvement and to keep gaining every day. We sat still in the past and it doesn’t lead to a great place. We are focused on constant improvement every single day.

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