DETROIT — Rounding up a share of ranching puns, Chrysler used its revamped Dodge Ram to drive a herd of 120 cattle through the city's streets Sunday in a show of the truck's rugged, workhorse appeal.
As observers munched on hunks of Dodge-brand beef jerky, Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman and President Jim Press talked up the automaker's latest addition to the hyper-competitive U.S. pickup truck market.
"If you think that our truck is all hat and no cattle, keep an eye on yonder horizon," Press said.
The trucks drove the herd down barricaded city streets with a group of riders on horseback keeping them in check. But as Press detailed changes to the Ram, such as coil springs designed for a better ride, the cattle kept stealing the show.
"The bulls want to see the trucks, they don't want to leave," Press said as some of the longhorns appeared to mount the other cattle.
"Oh, look at that," he added. And finally, as the display continued: "Well, let's not watch that."
Before the cattle drive, which came on the first day of media previews at the North American International Auto Show, men in cowboy hats and ranch work clothes loaded bales of hay into a mud-spattered Ram and hammered together fences.
Chrysler is known for its attention-grabbing stunts at the Detroit auto show. In the past, the company has crashed a Jeep through the glass front of the Cobo convention center and unleashed a simulated indoor snowstorm to unveil the Aspen sport utility vehicle.
Ford Motor Co., whose F-series pickups are the top-selling vehicles in the nation, unveiled its new F-150 at the show Sunday.
Both will debut as 2009 models in the fall, and each was designed after extensive research to fix flaws in the old models, make them more efficient and build in features that people may not even know they wanted.
"This is a product-driven company," Chrysler Chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli told reporters after the event.
Both automakers hope the improvements will stimulate pickup sales, which took a dive in 2007 as the housing market crumbled and construction sagged.
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