How a RAM 2500 gets pulled apart and re-engineered for Australia


With almost 7 tonnes towing capacity, the RAM 2500 Laramie is perfectly remanufactured for Australia.

It’s no secret that building complete cars in Australia has no future. And while that’s awful news, it doesn’t necessarily mean this country doesn’t have an automotive future. There are still chapters to be written.

And one of those chapters will concern operations such
as American Special Vehicles (ASV), a joint venture between Melbourne-based Walkinshaw Automotive Group and Ateco Automotive, currently the only factory authorised full volume importer of RAM Trucks into this country.

 

RAM 4x4 tow vehicles in Australia

RAM 2500 Laramie 4x4 tow vehicle

ASV started converting RAMs back in late 2015, but work on the project began about 15 months before that in mid-2014 with the design and development taking place. The actual conversion process begins with each shipment of RAM Trucks being taken to ASV’s Clayton facility in Melbourne’s east where
the first step is to separate
the body from the chassis in a process ASV refers to as de- marrying. 23 full-time positions were created in the establishment of ASV and those workers currently turn out about 500 conversions a year with that figure expected to rise.

 

Converted US vehicles

RAM 2500 converted to Australian standards

One of the big challenges in converting the trucks was
to arrive at a finished product that feels and drives like the original left-hand-drive version. The secret there was to use as much of the original vehicle as possible. Of course, that only gets you so far when you’re re-engineering intrinsic systems such as steering, for instance, but ASV took the pragmatic approach when new parts did need to be sourced. That approach amounted to, where ever possible, using the original equipment manufacturer.

In the case of the steering system, that meant approaching the US-based original manufacturer of the RAM’s steering box and nutting out a deal that saw the OE maker turn out a batch of mirror-image, right-hand-drive steering boxes.

 

Australian-built components

Dodge RAM being converted

The dashboard was another component that needed to be made from scratch and one that ASV was able to source locally. In fact, the entire dashboard is custom made by a Melbourne company that currently makes the dashboards for locally-built Toyota Camrys.

The final step in the development process for ASV was to hurl a perfectly good truck into a solid barrier in the name of crash testing. Interestingly, this was not a homologation requirement, but a move that ASV volunteered
to carry out. While a computer simulation would have been sufficient for many operations, in ASV’s case, the company standpoint was that relying on a computer simulation alone was simply not good enough and that it was not an acceptable alternative to a real-world crash.

Re-engineered Dodge RAM 2500 in Australia

The RAM 2500 Laramie you see here has been pulled apart, re-engineered for right-hand drive and then screwed back together by a dedicated bunch of engineers and designers.

So if you’re planning on heading off-road or hitching up a caravan and doing a lap of the country then few vehicles will do it as easily as the RAM. And to know that it’s been hand- rebuilt by Aussie craftsman is the icing on the cake. 

 


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.