Ward's Dealer Business - April 1, 2007
Some Dodge dealers worry they may be competing against what they see as
a rebadged Dodge Ram 4500 truck http://snipurl.com/Ram_4500 introduced
by a corporate cousin, Sterling Truck Corp.
They say that, despite a credible styling job, the Bullet's profile
similarity to the Ram 4500 is striking.
Sterling, a subsidiary of Freightliner LLC, which, like Chrysler
Group's Dodge Div., is part of DaimlerChrysler AG, debuted its new
chassis-cab Sterling Bullet http://snipurl.com/1j7gf at a March truck
show in Indianapolis. It will be available at select Sterling
dealerships in late fall. The new truck expands Sterling's lineup into
Class 4 and 5 trucks.
..Dodge dealers say they are struck by the Bullet's similarity to the
Ram 4500, including a Cummins 6.7L diesel engine under the hood. They
say Sterling, by trying to expand its market presence, has taken the
Freightliner president and CEO Chris Patterson says the Bullet and the
redone '08 Ram 4500/5500 chassis cab, introduced at February's Chicago
auto show, result from a Sterling-Dodge collaboration, and "together
represent the best of the commercial vehicle and automotive worlds."
Some Dodge dealers, who decline to be identified, say it appears
DaimlerChrysler is either ratcheting up its North American truck
presence or attempting to follow General Motors Corp.'s model of
offering companion truck lineups like Chevrolet and GMC.
Chrysler Group's dealer relations were strained last year when dealers
complained that the company forced excess inventory on them. Then came
news in February that DaimlerChrysler is putting the Chrysler Group up
for sale. Now this, say Dodge dealers who sell Class 4 Rams.
One veteran Dodge dealer says of the upcoming Bullet: "We didn't want
or expect it."