Fiat Chrysler Automobiles hinted that it may make a play for a slice of the lucrative high performance off-road pickup truck market by unveiling a fully working Ram Rebel TRX concept vehicle at the State Fair of Texas Thursday.
Ram marketing executives called the concept truck a “consumer-interest study for an extreme performance half-ton pickup.”
Such a vehicle would compete with the Ford’s F-150 Raptor, a pickup that has dominated that segment of the consumer truck market.
Not to be outdone, Ford on Thursday said it would pack the 2017 Raptor with a new twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine that is more powerful than the current model and mate it to a new 10-speed transmission.
“Some are talking about concepts when we are talking about the second generation of our vehicle,” said Doug Scott, Ford’s truck group marketing manager.
Unlike the typical concept vehicle, the Rebel concept is fully functional and has been driven at 100 mph, said Ram spokesman Nick Cappa.
“This is something we are looking at but not committed to,” Cappa told Trucks.com.
The Rebel TRX is equipped with a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8 engine that produces 575 horsepower. It is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
To handle extreme off-road condition, the truck features more than 13 inches of wheel travel at all four corners, an increase of more than 40 percent over a Ram 1500 pickup. It has front and rear bypass performance shocks added for improved response and damping.
The concept is six inches wider than a standard Ram 1500, features an hour-glass body design and large fender wells that allow for 37-inch tires.
“With 575 supercharged horsepower and a suspension system built to withstand an all-day hammering, the Rebel TRX concept can devour the roughest terrain at more than 100 miles per hour and never look back,” said Mike Manley, who heads FCA’s Ram Brand.
More automakers are looking at the high performance, off-road truck market, said David Sullivan, manager of product analysis for AutoPacific, an industry consulting firm.
“It is a very profitable space in the pickup market,” Sullivan told Trucks.com.
Ford, for example, doesn’t need sales incentives and discounts to sell the Raptor, said Scott, the Ford executive.
Nissan showed an off-road concept truck at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this year and Chevrolet is getting ready to launch the mid-sized Colorado ZR2 off-road pickup truck.
“These are going to be important image vehicles for these brands,” Sullivan said.