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Ram vs Chevy, Ford, and Toyota

by David Zatz on

The legend goes that, back in the early 1980s, Chrysler Corporation ceded the full-size pickup market to GM and Ford, keeping their D-series going but not investing serious money into it. Then they acquired AMC, and everything changed.

The 1994 Dodge Ram 1500, developed in the new platform team system, pushed Dodge out of its pickup doldrums and into profits. Today, Ram may be FCA US’ primary profit driver; they sold 162,520 pickups and chassis cabs so far this year, compared with, say, fewer than 50,000 Caravans and around 75,000 Grand Cherokees.

Over at Ford, the F-series pickups have long dominated sales. They’ve sold a stunning 275,938 so far this year — clearly having no worries about Ram out-selling them. Chevrolet is another story; with Silverado sales down by 6%, to 168,621, execs may see Ram as being a serious threat.

Of course, GM has two pickup brands, as Chrysler has two minivan brands. GMC sells their Sierra series, 67,210 of them so far this year.  Add them up and you get 235,831 — no longer ahead of Ford, but in no danger of being overtaken by FCA. Yet.

Toyota’s “American pickup killer,” or so it was called when it was launched a few years back, isn’t quite living up to expectations; the company built two new plants for it, but so far this year, they’ve sold just 33,132 Tundras. The Nissan Titan, also once hailed as the death of Detroit pickups, posted sales of 15,328 — more than double 2016 YTD — likely with thanks to Cummins diesel engines.

The news for Ram is quite good. They posted a 6% gain so far this year — the same percentage as Silverado’s loss — and can keep climbing, despite the infamous brand loyalty of pickup owners. Reports from Warren suggest that the plant is being pushed as hard as possible for production, and Sterling Heights is being readied to take over as the primary Ram pickup producer. If the 2019 pickups are as good as insiders believe they will be, Ram could well be the #2 brand — even if FCA isn’t the #2 automaker making pickups.

It’s a far cry from that old 13% market share — they’re now at 22% in the US, and constrained by their plant, not by demand.

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