We reported a few days ago that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ truck division RAM was planning to unwrap its multi-function tailgate this week at the Chicago Auto Show. It’s likely the move is a direct response to a similar product unveiled last month by rival GMC with its new Sierra.
At the traditional Media Day that kicks off the Chicago show today, FCA will reveal all about its new tailgate. We do know that the system is not as sophisticated as GMC’s system; it consists mainly of a traditional gate that can be opened in two sections sideways, in a 60/40 split.
It will still be possible to open the gate downward in one piece, as has been the case for decades with these types of vehicles.
To be honest, there’s a little whiff of panic in the move by RAM; at the very least, it’s a reactive move. Consumers who will fork over an extra 1,000 or so for the new tailgate will be better placed to judge the product in daily use, but at first glance we’re not entirely convinced. This is surprising given RAM’s recent track record for design innovations, which contains very few missteps.
The only clear advantage the new system offers is easier access to the bed. Of course, that in itself could be enough to win over consumers.
The head of the RAM division for FCA, Reid Bigland, said this:
"The RAM Multifunction Tailgate is intuitive to operate, and owners will find it immediately useful. Combined with RAM's class-exclusive RamBox feature (a lockable storage box) and new tailgate step, we're taking RAM's cargo management and storage to the next level.”
Despite a design that appears to us to make the tailgate more fragile, RAM says that the unit’s maximum payload capacity remains the same, 2,000 lb.
As for availability, the new option will be available with all 1500 models as of the second quarter of 2019.