DETROIT -- When FCA US abandoned mainstream compact and midsize sedans in 2016 to focus its limited resources on more profitable utility vehicles and pickups, analysts viewed the shift from cars as risky.
But the redesigned 2019 Ram 1500 -- bowing Monday at the Detroit auto show -- appears to be a major beneficiary of the strategy, sporting a long list of engineering, safety, performance and functional improvements.
The Ram pickup is the automaker's best-selling vehicle in the United States and Canada. It’s the second-best selling truck in Canada, behind the F series and the third-best-selling vehicle in the United States behind the Ford F series and Chevrolet Silverado.
Even as it nears the end of its current product cycle, the outgoing Ram managed to chalk up a U.S. sales gain in 2017, topping 500,000 for the first time ever, including the decades when the Ram was part of the Dodge brand. FCA sold 98,465 Rams in Canada in 2017, up from the 89,666 it sold the year before.
The redesigned Ram 1500 goes into production this month -- along with the previous model, which will continue to be produced for up to a year.
Chevrolet plans a major redesign of the Silverado that is also on display in Detroit and will hit showrooms in the fall.