INDIANAPOLIS. The commercial division of Ram Trucks showed off its Augmented Reality Upfit Configurator at the 2017 National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) Work Truck Show – a system it introduced back in 2016 – and also rolled a new program called “Q Pro” designed to assist commercial upfitters, dealers and customers in “certifying” a wide array of truck-mounted products, though David Sowers, head of Ram commercial marketing, shied away from dubbing Q Pro a “certification program” and instead referred to it as a “qualifying program.”
“We don’t want to use the term ‘certification’ because it’s not a training process for upfitters,” Sowers explained during a press event at the show. “It’s a ‘validation’ program; a way to help dealers and customers know that the upfitters they are using meet certain quality and regulatory compliance standards.”
Sowers told Fleet Owner that this is part of a larger trend that aims to get more “capability” from commercial trucks.
“In the commercial world, it’s about getting the job done,” he explained. “So it’s not about fuel economy or performance; it’s about how can this vehicle help me get done what I need to get done in the most efficient and productive way possible.”
The use of augmented reality for spec’ing vehicles is another aspect of this trend, Sowers noted. “It’s an intensive process; we’re building 3D models with proprietary data taken from our upfitters,” he said, yet the technology allows customers and dealers to more quickly and accurately design vehicles that precisely fit specific work needs.
Sowers pointed out that while only two upfitters are currently part of this augmented reality configurator system – Knapheide and Ranger – he expects more will be added as “our intention is to use this [technology] to drive higher and higher sales.”
Originally offered on the Ram ProMaster full-size van, he noted that the configurator has now been expanded to the Ram ProMaster City van and the entire Ram Chassis Cab line, which includes the 3500, 4500 and 5500 models.
Other news Ram shared at its press conference includes:
- Total 2016 sales for the division topped 546,000 units, up 11% over 2015 and up 179% since 2009;
- Sales of Ram Truck Chassis Cabs and vans set records in both 2015 and 2016;
- New “quick connect” electric connectors for upfitters are now standard on the ProMaster full-size vans and will start to be offered as an option on the ProMaster City vans for the 2018 model year.