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The family Ram

by Bill Cawthon on

One of the major goals of truck makers is increasing the number of customers that buy pickups as a primary family vehicle. They also look for market expansion by increasing the number of women that select pickups.

These goals are shared by Ram CEO Bob Hegbloom. In fact, along with growing fleet sales, it’s one of the big areas where he sees new opportunities for Ram.

Progress has been made: while they’re still a distinct minority, the number of Rams purchased by women has increased 20% in the past five years. The number of buyers that selected a Ram pickup after considering an SUV or minivan has gone up 46% in the same period.

We got some input about how Ram is addressing these markets from from Dave Sowers, Head of Ram Pickup Marketing:

Allpar: Another market segment Ram has targeted is the female/family buyers where the truck is used as a primary transportation vehicle. According to, Ram is one of ten brands, and the only mainstream brand, with the highest percentage of male buyers. Edmunds says about 84% of Ram owners are men. Of course, that’s not all that much higher a ratio than Ford or GM. How do you see Ram increasing its appeal in this segment?


Dave Sowers: Although not the largest portion of the market, we see actual female registrations growing. Also, the female influence of trucks on the market is growing. Lastly, the family influence is growing – surprisingly even the minivan is an increasingly cross-shopped vehicle.

Allpar: Have pickups become female-unfriendly? We touched on this briefly, but the point was driven home as I watched Wendy Michalski, Ram Truck Product Planning Manager, climb into the Ram Power Wagon and when I looked at some Dodge pickup brochures from the 1970s and 1980s. The average height for an American woman is 5’4″ and not only do entry and exit pose a challenge, but loading and unloading the bed do, as well.

Dave Sowers: Quite the opposite. It’s growing. Although some trucks like the Ram Power Wagon may not be as prevalent in the female buyer spectrum, we see more female buyers in all segments. Some options such as air suspension (entry/exit mode), Mopar bed steps and wheel to wheel side steps are enablers for everyone, regardless of size. As the market grows, the amount of options increases and we listen to our customers intently for input. Features such as our exclusive air suspension meet a variety of needs from easy entry and exit, to better fuel efficiency with aero mode, and even best-in-class ground clearance for off road use.

Allpar: General Motors has begun selling the new Colorado/Canyon mid-size pickup. Ford has the Ranger that is not yet sold in North America. Fiat Professional’s best-selling vehicle is the small Strada pickup, so the form factor clearly has a market. FCA has a MOU with Mitsubishi for the L200 for the Mexican market.

While there doesn’t seem to be a significant market in the U.S. for such trucks, could a smaller pickup be a part of taking Ram global? Could a smaller pickup also be a part of Ram’s strategy to meet the 2025 CAFE requirements if there are no favorable adjustments after the 2018 review?

Dave Sowers: We continue to monitor the small pickup segment. Ram Truck believes there are four strong variables that must be addressed: size, capability, price and fuel economy. It not easy to deliver on all four. Ram offers the 1500 EcoDiesel at 28 mpg and 9,200 pounds of towing capacity. We also offer a V6 8 speed with up to 25 mpg and 7,600 pounds of towing capacity for around $25,000. Ram also has the best pickup value with a standard HEMI V8 at less than $25,000.

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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