The bulls may have gotten the attention at Chrysler LLC's Jan. 13 introduction of its latest Dodge Ram pickup, but the company is looking at plastics to help sell buyers on the top-of-the-line Crew Cab model.
The Auburn Hills, Mich.-based automaker is offering a lockable ``Rambox'' as an option on its Crew Cab, with a composite lid and thermoplastic box offering 8.6 cubic feet of weatherproof storage stashed within the fender. The optional storage system also includes a blow molded adjustable bed extender while the company also is featuring a thermoformed bedliner.
``There are a whole herd of changes in the truck market,'' Chrysler President Jim Press said, joking as the company rolled out the Ram in an outdoor news conference featuring dozens of cattle during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The show is open to the public Jan. 19-27.
Lockable storage within the pickup box has been a focus of redesigned pickups since Honda Motor Co. Ltd. introduced the Ridgeline with its storage system three years ago.
For the Ram, Chrysler designed a wider fender, which extends into the space over the wheel well that would otherwise have little use inside the box. That space between the box and outer steel fender panel then becomes the storage space within each side of the box. The composite lid can be painted along with the steel body, guaranteeing it will match the fenders, said Joe Veltri, director of body-on-frame product planning and marketing.
The interior of the Rambox has a drain, allowing it to be used as a cooler or for storage.
ABC Group Inc. of Toronto worked with Dodge in creating the box and its assembly process. ABC is the blow molder of the bed extender and divider. The company previously created a blow molded extender for Ford Motor Co. trucks, but this is its first for Dodge, said Mike Best, director of advanced products for ABC.
The extender also is unique because it can be placed at various points within the truck bed, allowing users to change the configuration of their storage area.
``It seems to have been well received,'' Best said.
Another thermoplastic storage bin inside the cab, under the floor, also features a drain, which will allow drivers to use it for ice storage.
Dodge also extended its use of plastics for the bed with a thermoformed bedliner that will be made by Penda Corp. of Portage, Wis.