BIG trucks are attracting hefty competition.
A new factory-backed player has arrived with plans to flex its muscle and challenge the likes of Gympie-based Performax International and Maroochydore dealer Harrison F Trucks.
The hulking trucks have price tags more than $100,000 and have a loyal following - especially with grey nomads.
Last week it was revealed Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 vehicles will become available with "full-volume Australian Design Rule compliance".
Fiat Chrysler New Zealand has signed a contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
The last time a full-size US pickup was sold in Australia with manufacturer backing was the Ford F-Series that was dropped locally in 2007.
Rams will be bought in left-hand drive in North America and reportedly converted by the Walkinshaw group in Melbourne.
Performax employs about 100 people at its Gympie factory. The automotive specialists convert a range of trucks, including the Toyota Tundra, GMC Sierra Denali, Chevrolet Silverado and the Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500.
"We have Dodge there as an offering. I imagine their offering will be better than ours, although we haven't put the same research and development into ours," Performax general manager Glenn Soper said.
"The F Truck and Chevy run rings around that car.
"Dodges have a bit of a cult following and buyers generally like the look.
"Our experience is nothing to be scoffed at. We offer a four-year/120,000km warranty, 24-hour roadside assist, menu pricing for servicing. We also carry $2 million in parts. And all parts are available for seven years at the end of a product cycle."
Mr Soper welcomed competition, but had concerns about the Ram's lifecycle which will only be 12 months before the new model is available.
The Ram trucks are reported to be available by September.
Performax is expanding its dealerships throughout Australia, growing from 10 to 21 by the end of this year.
More than 440 vehicles will be converted in Gympie this year. Pricing for the Ram products and full details are yet to be revealed.
"There is a demand for this type of vehicle in Australia and New Zealand in both the private and commercial markets with only availability restricting sales," said Clyde Campbell of Fiat Chrysler New Zealand.
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