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Ram targets fleets for more growth

by Bill Cawthon on


Though Jeep gets most of the ink, the Ram brand has been making headline-worthy news, too.

As of the end of October, sales of Ram pickups already exceed full-year totals for every year since 2006. Since 2013, Ram has claimed its largest share of the full-size pickup market since 1999 and its second-largest piece of the total light vehicle pie in 15 years: it’s 0.07% behind full-year 2003.


In a recent dinner conversation with Ram brand CEO Bob Hegbloom and Dave Elshoff, head of Ram Brand Communications,  Hegbloom said he is pleased with Ram’s growth in retail sales but that one of his major priorities is driving new growth in fleet business and government sales.

Hegbloom noted that with the addition of the ProMaster and ProMaster City vans, Ram now has a virtually complete line of trucks for commercial, fleet and government buyers.  Ram offers conventional trucks through Class 5 and vans through Class 2, which account for the bulk of fleet sales in the U.S.  The Ram ProMaster 2500 chassis-cab is also used for the Winnebago Trend and Itasca Viva! Class C RVs.

Right now, Ford is the 800-pound gorilla in those markets with shares exceeding 50% in some segments.

It may seem like Ford’s big changes to the F-150 and replacement of the venerable E-Series van with the Euro-styled Transit could provide an opportunity, but, as Hegbloom noted, that doesn’t open any doors unless Ram can offer a better alternative.

In fact, Hegbloom strongly believes that Ram’s biggest competition is Ram: how does the company improve what many regard as the best light truck on the market?

To get an idea of some of the programs Ram is developing to make it an even more compelling choice for fleet buyers, Allpar got some insight from Joe Benson, Head of Ram Commercial Marketing.

Allpar: Among the goals you have set for Ram is increased penetration of the truck fleet market, both government and commercial. 

How much of the market does Ram currently own? At its media presentation at the Texas State Fair, Ford ran a slide show that claimed Ram’s share was in the low single digits in all the major fleet segments but you mentioned Ram has finally broken into double digits. Where are you seeing growth?

Joe Benson: Ram’s total market share in segments in which we compete through September was nearly 20 percent and that is up 3 percentage points since the beginning of the calendar year.  The gains are coming from both the retail and fleet sides of the business. Our competitors have lost market share during the same period.  Products like the 1500 EcoDiesel, and the ProMaster van are breaking through and getting people’s attention, which is translating into sales. That momentum can continue with all new ProMaster City small commercial van entry later this year/early next.  Beyond the great product story are a number of other customer programs that Ram Commercial uses to grow sales and capture market share.

Allpar: How do you see Ram increasing its share of the fleet market? For example, does Ram offer support comparable to Ford’s?

Joe Benson: Our “BusinessLink” commercial dealer network has more than doubled and is now at about 950 dealers focused and engaged on the truck needs of small businesses. Ram is working with a network of 75 commercial upfitter pools for rapidly upfitting trucks and vans to be work ready.  Our “On the Job” incentive program is geared to small businesses and it’s helping our dealers close more sales that might otherwise go to the competition.

On the fleet side of the business, we built an organization to engage fleet customers to grow sales and share.  The addition of a 4th National Sales Manager provides greater support in the field.  Additionally, we now have four dedicated Truck and Van Mangers to bring focus to those important segments.  Ram is the only OEM with dedicated Regional Fleet Service Technicians and we have a dedicated Senior Key Account Coordinator that engages directly with large fleet customers.

Ram is putting all the pieces in place – starting with great products, we have a strong commercially-focused dealer network, programs to meet the needs of small businesses and a strong national fleet organization entirely focused on trucks and vans. These elements help meet our sales and share goals.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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