During profitable times, DCC envisioned light-duty versions of the new Ram platform, codenamed DR, continuing to be assembled at St. Louis North (IL), Warren (MI) and Saltillo (Mexico). All-new heavy duty 2500- and 3500-series variants are set for an '03 launch, to be assembled at Lago Alberto in Mexico.

But the company's Pillette (Windsor) plant was slated to also join the fray, making '02 light-duty pickups and adding a fullsize sport/utility vehicle (dubbed DR74) for '03.

Under the new economic reality of a company that's lost hundreds of millions seemingly overnight, DR74 is dead; Ram pickups are no longer destined for an expanded Pillette plant, and the facility is slated to close altogether in 2003 without new product.

Meanwhile, the Lago plant will close in 2002 and Saltillo will take over production of the all-new heavy-duty line in '03.

“Three plants can handle all the light-duty and heavy-duty by juggling the models (ST, SLT, SLT Plus and Sport,) between the three plants,” says Chuck Rightler, senior manager-Truck Business Operations. Line speeds can be increased, and the new Rams have been designed for ease of assembly — there are about 5 million build combinations for the '02 Ram compared to 30 million for the current truck.

The new Ram launches in July to be in showrooms this fall.

Ram brings full circle the Dodge truck overhaul. It started with the '94 Ram and included the '97 Dakota, '98 Durango, '98 Ram Quad Cab, '00 Dakota Quad Cab and now the '02 Ram.