In what may be an economic indicator of sorts, Chrysler will increase production of its new Ram pickup by 32 percent.
The decision to dramatically ramp up output — from 227,000 at Chrysler’s Warren Truck plant in 2012 to 300,000 this year — was spurred partly by signs that the housing industry continues to improve, according to the DetroitBureau.com.
Since many of the folks who work in that business drive pickups, any jump in housing activity usually boosts pickup sales.
In addition, the pickup truck segment is expected to be red-hot this year with a still-fresh Ram and Ford F-series, an all-new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra and a restyled Toyota Tundra.
The Ram – the only pickup in the segment with an 8-speed automatic – won North American Truck of the Year at the Detroit auto show.
The company believes that award will give sales a push, too.
Chrysler did not say when the increase in production would occur at the Warren plant. But that increase combined with Rams built in Saltillo, Mexico, could bring total production to nearly 400,000 this year.
Last year, Ford sold 645,000 F-series pickups and General Motors sold a 575,000 Silverados and Sierras.
Toyota has generally been a distant fifth in the segment, with 101,621 Tundra sales last year.
Pickup trucks have long been critical to domestic automakers because they generate the most profits.