Fiat’s Ram Head Says Technology Behind Brand’s Low Rank

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Ram brand chief said cockpit technology was partly responsible for the marque’s ranking in the latest Consumer Report’s reliability study, which labeled Ram third-worst.

“The average age of a pickup truck is 11 years old,” Bob Hegbloom, who took over as Ram chief in August, said to reporters at Chrysler’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

“Eleven years ago, did anyone know what a Wi-Fi hotspot was? We have all this technology integrated into this system with an individual that may not have had a new vehicle in 10-plus years,” Hegbloom said yesterday. “There’s going to be some growing pains.”

Fiat Chrysler’s Dodge, Fiat, Jeep and Ram brands finished in the bottom four of the rankings. Balky touch-screens and other cockpit-related technology bugaboos generated the most complaints among the 17 categories on which Consumer Reports polled owners of 2014 model vehicles. Buyers also complained about Cadillac, Ford and Honda brands, in addition to Fiat Chrysler’s Ram, Jeep and Fiat. The day after the study came out, Fiat Chrysler said its head of quality had left the company.

While Fiat Chrysler didn’t fare well in the Yonkers, New York-based magazine’s rankings, the company has posted four and a half years of monthly sales gains with trucks and Jeep sport-utility vehicles fueling growth. Ram pickup sales have risen 22 percent this year through September, outpacing Chrysler Group’s 15 percent sales gain.

Ram has taken advantage of Ford Motor Co.’s switch to an aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup, which has curbed production this year, to add market share. Fiat Chrysler now has 21 percent of the lucrative full-size pickup market through September, a 22 percent jump from last year. Ford has 37 percent share, a loss of less than one percent. General Motors Co., which sells the Silverado and Sierra, has 35 percent of that market, a gain of 6.6 percent.

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