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After a wildly enthusiastic reception to the Ram Runner, the dune-bashing variant of the Ram pickup, Chrysler engineers have decided to go back to the drawing board and make the upgrade kit street legal, giving Ram loyalists a weapon against the Ford F-150 Raptor.
While any stock Ram 1500 can be used as a basis, the parts used will have more in common with Baja race trucks than anything seen on the street. The vehicle is so wide that special side markets have been mandated by the government. Track is widened by 3 inches in the front and 6 inches in the rear, while special Fox shocks, new control arms and widened fenders are just some of the modifications made for the Ram Runner.
Buyers can purchase a complete package, or the individual bits to upgrade their truck over time. Chrysler is looking at making a factory version but stated that “If we did, we would use a [second stage] partner to build the trucks.”
Chrysler will build a licensed version of a ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox at their Indiana transmission plant. Production is expected to start in 2013, and retain roughly 1,200 jobs.
The total cost for the project will be roughly $300 million, but Chrysler Senior VP of Powertrain Paolo Ferrero said that the new 8-speed transmission will lead to a 25 percent increase in fuel economy. With a new Chrysler 300C and Dodge Charger due in 2011, the 8-speed automatic’s debut in 2013 would be perfect for a mid-cycle refresh, however another Chrysler spokesman said that the gearboxes would be imported prior to their domestic production, meaning that it could launch with the new vehicles from the get-go.
The 8-speed automatic could also see use in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram pickups. The transmission saw its first application in BMW’s 5-Series Gran Turismo and BMW 760Li.