People familiar with American Expedition Vehicles know the company has been building and modifying Jeeps since 1997, and that AEV's high-end products are more than just the typical bolt-ons. AEV works closely with Jeep engineers and Tier One suppliers to carefully engineer products that improve off-road capability in the Jeeps. This is the company that's known for the Brute Wrangler-based pickup, as well as diesel and V-8 engine swaps in Jeeps.
So when the company announced it was showing a Ram concept at SEMA, it was a surprise that AEV would delve into Ram waters, but the idea makes logical sense. After all, Ram is part of Chrysler with Jeep, and there are Ram owners out there who could benefit from the types of products AEV manufactures.
As Dave Harriton, owner of AEV, explained, there are modifications on the market that can make a truck a better true work truck, a Baja racer, or a show truck. But that doesn't take care of owners whose needs are more biased toward the great outdoors, the people who have a slide-in camper, or tow a boat. Those that want some of the products that make their trucks better equipped to handle off-roading and life outdoors.
Enter AEV's Ram Concept Vehicle. This is based on a 2014 Ram 2500 Crew Cab powered by the 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel. AEV was happy with the engine, so it didn't make any changes there. However, the engineers did go to work on the body and suspension.
Up front, there is a stamped-steel winch-compatible bumper. The face of the bumper is 3/16-inch-thick steel, which is over four times thicker than stock. The quarter-inch steel mount can accommodate 12,000-16,500-pound winches. The modular three-piece bumper can be customized by the owner, and has been set up to hold 6.5-inch off-road lights. This bumper is compatible with 2010-and-newer Ram 1500, 2500, 3500, 4500, and 5500 trucks.
Moving toward the back of the concept, there are high-clearance fender flares designed to accommodate 40-inch tires with only a 3-inch lift. (Many people opt for a 6-inch lift to clear 40s.) As you can see here, the Ram has been lifted, 3 inches in front and 2 in the rear, and the truck now has a level stance. When the company worked on the suspension for this concept, it optimized the suspension geometry, which increased the roll center and helped ensure that the handling wasn't overly compromised by the 3-inch lift. AEV says the handling is close to that of a stock truck. The shocks are custom Bilsteins and AEV determined that it made the most sense to stick with the stock coil springs, with a unique cast-aluminum spacer that goes on the bottom. There's also a high steer kit that fixes the steering geometry.
Another notable feature of this concept is the wheels. They are made of A-356 cast aluminum, in a 17x10-inch Ram-specific fitment, are SAE J2530 certified (approved for normal highway use), and have a 3650-pound load rating. Each wheel also has a cast-in-hub cover and a recessed valve stem.
Is this concept going into production? AEV says no, but the good news is parts of the concept are going on sale. While the concept was built to gauge consumer demand, the front bumper and wheels are going into production, and will go on sale in 2014. In addition to outdoorsmen, AEV is hoping to appeal to fleet customers, who need durable components for their trucks. Visit www.aev-conversions.com for more details.