Tudor Van Hampton
Ram has expanded its line of Tradesman work trucks to include crew and extended cabs.

Chrysler Group LLC's Ram brand will make an "important announcement" at the New York auto show next month, booth staffers at this year's Work Truck Show told ENR.

Employees aren't saying what the news will be, but some media have already speculated that Ram will unveil its next-generation pickup truck in New York.

At the Work Truck Show, held March 6-8 in Indianapolis, Ram displayed a growing lineup of Tradesman crew cab and extended cab half-ton pickups. The Ram 1500 Tradesman previously was offered only in a regular cab.

The Tradesman option has been a success since its introduction last year, helping to boost Ram's overall pickup sales by 23% in 2011, according to Fred Diaz, Ram president and CEO. "We got to a point where our demand [for the Tradesman] was far exceeding our ability to build," he said.

With a standard 4.7-liter V-8 engine, six-speed automatic transmission and blackout grille and bumper trim, Tradesman trucks are aimed at cost-conscious commercial buyers. List prices, including destination charges, start at $22,370 for the regular cab and $29,810 for the crew cab.

In addition, the Ram 1500 Tradesman HD, starting at $29,600, features a heavy-duty suspension that provides 11,500 lb of towing muscle and 3,125 lb of payload capacity.

Ram also showed a three-quarter-ton pickup, priced at $46,000, that can be had with a bi-fuel engine that runs on compressed natural gas and gasoline. General Motors and Ford exhibited similarly equipped models, as well, ready to capitalize on the industry's expanding interest in alternative fuels.

Though it displayed a Caravan-based cargo van, Ram's exhibit at the Indianapolis truck show was conspicuously missing a large commercial van—such as a Fiat-sourced model—to compete with such vehicles as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. We're guessing that Ram may give a van update in New York, as well.