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Dodge Unveils Three New Trucks

DaimlerChrysler’s Dodge Truck division unveiled three new trucks yesterday at the Chicago Auto Show-- the 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 cab chassis and a new mid-size Dodge Dakota pickup. The automaker said these models will round out its offerings, making it a “one-stop shop” for commercial fleets.

“Success in the truck market demands more from us than just showing up; we have to bring more to the party,” said Frank Klegon, executive vp- product development for Dodge Trucks. “With these new trucks, we now have a full line of Class 2 through 5 vehicles. That allows us to offer one-stop shopping to fulfill consumer and commercial needs alike.”

The 2006 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs come standard with a 6.7L Cummins diesel engine generating 305 hp. and 610 lb.-ft. of torque and complies with EPA ’07 emission standards, said Klegon. The engines also can go 350,000 miles before their first overhaul, he added.

A six-speed automatic or manual transmission is available- both PTO capable- along with a range of beefier enhancements: a standard 52-gallon fuel tank; bigger brake rotors (390 mm) and larger caliper pistons (66 mm) for greater stopping power; and industry-standard 34-in. frame rail spacing and flat; and clean frame rails on a one-piece C-channel rear-frame rail built from rugged 50,000-psi steel.

Finally, dual-rear-wheel models and four cab-axle lengths (60, 84, 108 and 120 in.) are available. The gross vehicle weight ratings of these new trucks range from 4,000 to 19,500 lbs.

Kevin Mets, senior manager-vehicle development for Dodge Trucks, said the enhancements were based on customer feedback. “We had all the pieces of the puzzle in place- this is just taking the next step,” he told FleetOwner.

These trucks are part of DaimlerChrysler’s BusinessLink service, added Charlie Chang, brand manager for cab chassis. “Working through our Business Link dealers allows fleets to reduce wait time for service and get loaner trucks all from one location, which greatly increases vehicle uptime for them,” he told FleetOwner. “It handles everything for a fleet through our dedicated BusinessLink managers at these dealerships. We’re also going to expand these offerings to try and incorporate smaller fleets into the program, the ones that operate one to 10 trucks.”

Klegon said the 2008 Dodge Dakota pickup offers new interior and exterior styling, a bigger cab and longer bed, more towing capacity and more power, thanks to a new 4.7L V-8 engine producing 290 hp. (25% more than its previous engine offering) and 320 lb.-ft. of torque (a 10% increase), with superior fuel economy. The new Dakota will be available starting in August this year, he said.

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