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Ram 1500 diesel selling well?

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According to an informal source within Chrysler, the Ram 1500 diesel has become popular enough to account for nearly a fifth of Warren’s Ram 1500 production in recent days. While the figure is “off the cuff,” and does not include Saltillo production (that is, regular-cab 1500s), the combination of Ram 1500 and VM diesel seems to be popular so far. Whether dealer orders are based on customer demand or projections of customer demand has yet to be seen — as does the long-term popularity of the combination.

The Ram 1500 diesel is capable of 28 mpg on the highway, and reportedly far less liable to get low mileage when towing than the lead competitor’s turbocharged engines. Generally, diesels lend themselves well to heavy loads.

The popularity of the Ram 1500 diesel and Grand Cherokee diesel, which share the same VM engine, is limited by supply, though VM may increase capacity again if Ram can sustain its diesel sales (the company increased output by up to 50,000 engines per year to supply Jeep and Ram). If, at the end of the year, customers are still demanding Ram 1500s and Grand Cherokees with diesels, VM may start another plan expansion — and Chrysler may try using the VM diesel in its large cars, too.

Ram 1500, 2500 among Edmund’s Top-Rated Vehicles

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The 2014 Ram 1500 Crew Cab was named as Edmunds.com’s only Top-Rated Truck and the 2014 Ram 2500 Crew Cab was the only pickup among the Top-Rated Diesels.

The selection of Edmunds.com’s “Top Rated” vehicles is drawn from about 200 new vehicles the Edmunds staff evaluates each year. Every vehicle is driven on a standardized road-test loop and undergoes instrumented testing in controlled conditions on a test track. Wheel time is used to develop ratings that grade how a car stacks up against its direct rivals in its size and price class. The Edmunds.com Top Rated Awards are given to the vehicles that received an “A” rating.

Writing about the Ram 1500, Edmunds editors note: “The 2014 Ram 1500 is our top pick in the full-size pickup segment, thanks to a winning combination of strong powertrains, a smooth ride and a well-trimmed cabin.”

The editors praised the “Supple ride and composed handling; strong gas V6 or fuel-efficient diesel V6 available; available eight-speed automatic transmission improves fuel economy and towing abilities; refined and quiet cabin; useful tech features.”

Of the Ram 2500, the editors wrote: “The 2014 Ram 2500 is a top pick for a heavy-duty truck thanks to its top-notch interior, comfortable ride quality and impressive towing and hauling capabilities.”

The Ram 2500 was chosen because of its high-quality cabin; the massive torque available with the diesel/automatic powertrain; the roomy rear seat in the Mega Cab and quiet highway ride.



The Power Wagon returns

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The legendary Power Wagon returns for 2014, ready carry on a tradition that stretches back more than 60 years.

The Power Wagon traces its origins the the 3/4-ton WC truck used by the military in World War II. Dodge built more than a quarter-million of the trucks equipped as weapons carriers, troop carriers, command cars and ambulances. (For more on the history of the Power Wagon, see Curtis Redgap’s excellent article “Dodge Trucks and the Burma Road in World War II.”)

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Following the end of the war, returning GIs clamored for a civilian version of the tough 4X4 and Dodge was ready with the original Power Wagon, which was introduced in March 1946. It was the first factory-built 4-wheel-drive truck offered to the general public (while they did offer conversions, Ford and GM didn’t offer a factory 4X4 until the late 1950s).

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The latest truck to wear the name is based on the Ram 2500 pickup. It’s equipped with a 6.4-liter HEMI engine that produces best-in-class 410 horsepower and a hefty, and best in class, 429 lb-ft of torque. There’s enough low-end torque to allow the use of cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy. Mileage is further enhanced by the reduction of the rear axle ratio from 4.56 to 4.10.

The Power Wagon keeps the regular Ram 3-link front suspension and link-coil rear suspension. In order to improve offroad handling, engineers developed the Ram Articulink to provide the needed articulation to the front suspension.

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The 2014 Power Wagon has serious off-road chops: it sits two inches higher than the regular Ram 2500, it has electronic locking front and rear axles, skids plates and a class-exclusive sway bar disconnect. the approach, breakover and departure angles are designed to provide the clearance needed when it’s time to tackle the roughest terrain.

The 2014 Ram Power Wagon is designed to be the most offroad-capable truck on the market.

Bilstein shocks are available all ’round and there are 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires mounted on forged-aluminum open-lug wheels.

The Power Wagon can be equipped with a 12,000-pound Warn Winch mounted in the front bumper along with all the features available for the Ram 2500, including a Class 5 hitch, Ram Box and clearance lights.

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The Power Wagon is offered in three trim levels: Tradesman, SLT (shown) and Laramie. The SLT comes with a painted billet grille, black headlamps and splash graphics package on the sides of the body.

Ram dealers can order the Power Wagon now. Pricing starts at $45,960 for the Tradesman; the SLT stickers at $50,340 and the Laramie goes for $56,015. All prices include $1,195 destination charges.

Ram ProMaster named Best Fleet Value

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Vincentric has named the Ram ProMaster Diesel 1500 standard roof van with the 118-inch wheelbase its “Best Fleet Value” in the Full-Size 1/2-Ton Cargo Van category.

“Starting off its first model year with a bang, the Ram ProMaster 1500 wins its first Vincentric Best Fleet Value in America award in the full-size ½-ton cargo van segment. The ProMaster used low fuel and maintenance costs as the key components of its success, while unseating the Chevrolet Express Cargo G1500, which also performed well as the 2014 runner-up.”

Vincentric, LLC, which celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2014, provides insight to the automotive industry. Based in Bingham Farm, Michigan, the company uses a proprietary cost-of-ownership database to measure and analyze the overall cost of owning and operating vehicles and its impact on the value provided to buyers.

In addition to the ProMaster, the Dodge Grand Caravan was named Best Fleet Value in the Minivan category for the third year in a row; the Dodge Journey pulled off its own three-peat in the Mid-Size Crossover as did the Jeep Patriot 2WD in the Entry-Level Crossover segment.

Late last month, the Jeep Wrangler won Vincentric’s “Best Value in America” award in the Compact SUV category for the third consecutive year and Ram 3500 brought home its second consecutive “Best Value in America” award in the one-ton pickup competition.



Ram named an All-Star for second consecutive year

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Every year, the editorial staff of Automobile magazine selects its ten favorite passenger vehicles and names them All-Stars. For the second year in a row, the Ram 1500 pickup is one of their selections. It’s also the only truck on the list.

This makes four times time the Ram has been named an All-Star in the past five years.

According to the editors, “…The Ram 1500 defies the limitations of a pickup truck, continuing a spirit of innovation that began in the mid-1990s, when Chrysler introduced the big-rig grille and reinvented the way pickup trucks look. Now the Ram has the best chassis in the business, with a coil-sprung rear suspension that offers a settled ride even with an empty bed. The list of options and the refined interior rival those of a luxury car. And a new diesel engine—the only one available on a light-duty pickup—achieves the fuel economy of a mid-size crossover….”

This year, for the first time, the magazine’s staff took all 10 winners on a great American road trip, from Automobile’s editorial offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to New Orleans, Louisiana. Read about the trip online at automobilemag.com.

“The Automobile Magazine All-Star award doesn’t just focus on all-new trucks, but all current model trucks, and the results place our Ram 1500 at the top…,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO – Ram Truck Brand.

2014 Automobile Magazine All-Stars
Ram 1500
Audi A7/S7/R7
BMW 3 series/4 series
Cadillac CTS
Ford Fiesta ST
Honda Accord
Jaguar F-Type
Mazda3
Porsche Boxster/Cayman
Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ



Ram v. Silverado: More than rebates

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After learning the Ram had outsold the Chevrolet Silverado, GM spokesman Jim Cain told Automotive News, “The 1980s called. They want their marketing strategy back. It’s really easy to deeply discount your truck, mine the subprime market and offer cheap deals to buy market share.”

Cain had earlier told Bloomberg News, “We would deeply disappoint so many people from Wall Street to our dealers on Main Street if we were to match the kind of things that Dodge is doing,” Cain said. “We’ve made commitments to be disciplined and that’s not anything we’re interested in walking away from.”

However, not long after Mr. Cain spoke to AN, GM announced it was extending its Truck Month program an additional 30 days and adding more cash to the deals. Whereas GM’s best deal on certain 2014 Silverados in March was $7,541, it’s gone up to $8,162 for April, a $621 increase. GM says the spiffs are to sell more Crew Cab trucks.

Apparently, someone at General Motors decided it was time to rethink those commitments to Wall Street.

The financial press has been praising General Motors for its financial discipline, for holding the line on incentives and maintaining profit margins. But according to estimates from TrueCar.com, it looks like GM is still bankrolling the highest average incentives of any major automaker and, compared to Chrysler Group, it has seen slower growth in its average transaction price.

Of course, average incentives across an entire line don’t tell the whole story: according to J.D. Power and Associates, Ram incentives in March averaged $5,598 compared to just over $3,000 for the Silverado. But the chart below shows the latest Ram and GM information and it appears, at least in the offers they mention, that GM is paying out substantially more.

Ram v. Silverado: Pricing and Incentives as of 4/6/2014
Basic Truck – No Options MSRP Destination Sticker Incentives Net Price
Ram 1500 Tradesman basic $24,385 $1,195 $25,580 $2,000 $23,580
Silverado 1500 1WT Basic $25,575 $1,095 $26,670 $2,623 $24,047
Ram Difference -$1,090 -$623 -$467
Premium Truck – No Options MSRP Destination Sticker Incentives Net Price
Ram 1500 Crew Cab Laramie Limited $48,455 $1,195 $49,650 $2,500 $47,150
Silverado 1500 Crew Cab High Country $45,905 $1,095 $47,000 $4,313 $42,687
Ram Difference +$2,650 -$1,813 +$4,463
Source: Manufacturer websites

Not surprisingly, GM itself says it’s meeting internal goals for more expensive pickups while it’s having trouble in the bread-and-butter ranges.

Manufacturers and dealers have other sources of cash to close deals but GM may well be hiding behind the excuse that it doesn’t want to get down and dirty in the pickup wars to hide a more fundamental problem.

At the end of March, Silverado sales were down 7.6% for the first quarter while Ram sales grew 24.9%. For the month, Silverado sales rose 6.8%; Ram sales jumped 25.7%. March was the first month this year that the Silverado beat its year-ago numbers: sales fell 18.4% in January and 12.1% in February. In the same two months, Ram sales increased 22.5 and 25.8%, respectively. The growth story is the same over the past year.

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Aggravating the sales issue is the fact the Silverado and, to a lesser extent, the Silverado’s upscale clone, the GMC Sierra, aren’t producing the results GM had to be expecting from a major refresh and Motor Trend’s “Truck of the Year” award.

The difference is just as marked over a longer time period. Since the depths of 2009, when both Chrysler and GM went though bankruptcy, Ram sales have more than doubled, up 200.6%, while Silverado sales grew just 151.7%, the smallest gain of all four pickups from the Detroit automakers.

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Comparisons to the Ram aren’t the only ones where GM struggles. While the Ford F-series has been the undisputed king of the pickups since 1978, GM has been able to take comfort from the fact it builds two full-size pickups and the combined sales of the Silverado and Sierra would frequently beat the F-series’ numbers. But every year since 2010, the Ford has beaten that total. In March, Ford sold 16% more pickups than General Motors.

As the post-recession growth in light vehicle sales slows, the market is getting more competitive. According to TrueCar.com estimates, even Honda and Toyota are getting serious about incentives. GM is going to have to play the game just like everyone else.

But there’s more to it than cash on the hood. Even some Chevrolet dealers are admitting they’re losing sales to the Ram for a different reason: the new Silverado is a very good truck; the Ram’s a better truck.

While GM’s heavily promoted billion-dollar refresh added a good six-cylinder engine and subtracted 250 pounds from the total weight, Chrysler has showered the Ram with features like a reasonably-priced diesel option and innovative suspensions. Chrysler also took care to improve the Ram’s interior: in the high-end models, the Ram (and the F-series) offer much nicer accommodations.

The truck market is one of the toughest. Brand loyalty among pickup owners is higher than in any other market segment but sales results show the Ram is steadily chipping away at the Silverado’s base and it will take more than rebates to slow it down.




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