The Ram Truck Is on Pace to Shake Up the Industry Rankings


Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The race to the title of best-selling vehicle in America is a heated one, although one that Ford's (NYSE: F  ) F-Series has largely dominated over the years. The F-Series' main competitor to the crown has been General Motors' (NYSE: GM  ) Chevrolet Silverado, and the two duke it out for the most loyal consumers in the industry. Funny thing is, all the sudden the race has a third player coming from behind which is on pace to shake things up. Here are the details, and whether I think Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (NASDAQOTH: FIATY  ) Ram Truck will indeed keep pace and overtake the Silverado in 2014.

Ram accelerates in 2014
Let's first look at what the Ram truck has accomplished during the first part of 2014. Last month, Ram brand sales for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, or FCA, the combined company of Chrysler and Fiat, soared 28% over last year and remains up 26% for the year. Ram's sales last month were good enough to record its best February mark since 2006 and its 46th consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains.

While sales increases of 28% and 26% for February and 2014, respectively, from Ram are impressive, let's look at how they stack up versus the competition and what we can expect to happen throughout 2014.

Ford's F-Series sales improved a meager 2.6% in February and are up only 1.1% for the year which seems disappointing until you check General Motors' results. Sales of GM's Chevy Silverado were down 12% in February and are down a whopping 15% so far this year – ouch. If those results continue, the Ram is on pace to shake up the sales rankings.


Graph by author. Source: Automotive News DataCenter. 2014* Projected by sales increases through February 2014.

However, winning and losing in the full-size truck segment goes beyond sales, investors and car buyers must take incentives into account.

All about the incentives
Ford reported this week that its incentives per truck remained at historic norms, roughly $4,000 per truck, while General Motors has so far kept its incentives below normal. That's a strategic move for General Motors, as it has the freshest designed trucks on the market and which typically leads to higher transaction prices as well as fewer incentives to achieve sales -- a more profitable move.

So while sales of the Silverado are down, profitability is up, albeit at the cost of market share. The big question is whether the Silverado is good enough to lure customers from the F-Series and Ram without increasing incentives, and not everyone is convinced. When speaking of GM's new trucks to Reuters, Kelley Blue Book analyst Alec Gutierrez had this to say.

"They are only marginally better than Ford's previous generation truck and the new Ram," according to Reuters, he added that there was no reason to suggest a consumer should pay a premium for the Silverado.

With that said, and taking current trends into account, will the Ram keep this sales pace up and overtake the Silverado in 2014? I don't think so.

Looking ahead
The first two months of 2014 perhaps served notice to GM that its trucks aren't competing as well as hoped. Because of that, General Motors is now unleashing its steepest and most aggressive incentives on the new Silverado to date. During March, dealerships will offer truck buyers employee and supplier pricing for anyone willing to drive the truck off the lot. That means you can expect a strong surge in Silverado sales this month, and that alone could abruptly reverse Ram's growth in 2014.

Further, while Ram certainly surged early in 2014, it may have surged at the wrong time, considering January and February are historically very poor selling months. March is historically a very strong selling month, and it also boasts five weekends on the calendar this year. GM and Ford have the ability to regain lost market share more quickly during the stronger selling months later this year.

Further, the competition is about to heat up even more as Ford's next-generation 2015 F-150 hits the markets. Ford's truck buyers have historically been the industry's most loyal, and with the F-150's improved fuel economy it is sure to garner a large amount of sales later this year. I believe those factors will prevent the Ram from overtaking the Silverado this year, although let the warning be served: This is no longer a two-truck race.

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Read/Post Comments (23) | Recommend This Article (19)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 7:58 PM, TheGreatRoberto wrote:

    I think the writers are missing the point entirely. RAM is coming out with a diesel, something the market in pick up trucks prefers. So if you have a 3/4 or 1T because you wanted diesel, now RAM have presented that option and caught Ford and GM by surprise. This is a major development- styling change at GM or aluminum body panels at Ford- who cares and ring the freaking bell! If the RAM diesel is good, they will do well. Myself, I have an F150 with 120k on it and will wait another year to see how RAM does. By then we will also have Toyota and Nissan with diesels, and I am sure Ford and GM!

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 8:08 PM, kca124cain wrote:

    The Ram 1/23 ton Hemi is gret on fuel mileage. I rented one for a week. Did highway driving including in all wheel drive and got 23 MPG. City driving 19 MPG, towing a 7,000 trailer. 16 MPG.

    This kind of negates the need for the Diesel because diesel engines cost a few thousand more, diesel fuel is now more expensive, and the maintenance costs are expensive.

    Only negative is the dial for shifting on the automatic.

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 8:11 PM, kca124cain wrote:

    Ford offered a diesel in the Ranger for a limited time around 1986-87. Nobody bought them.

    Wish I could find one.

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 8:39 PM, 50Dodge wrote:

    I wonder what will happen to the price of the new Fords if Goldman Sachs starts manipulating the price of aluminum again.

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 8:58 PM, Quido wrote:

    RAM - The king of all trucks!

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 11:49 PM, cypress555 wrote:

    i bet will by the end of the year or so

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 12:04 AM, bascobunch wrote:

    hmm people are learning Dodge Ram is gaining in popularity with dependability and good fuel mileage helps along with a good looking truck

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 12:21 AM, HandiManBob wrote:

    It's about time. Nice to see the competition, and you can bet the consumer will benefit. Please, PLEASE Obama Administration, don't mettle with THIS market!

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 1:01 AM, btc909 wrote:

    RAM was smart enough to offer a Diesel in any trim level. Having an independent rear suspension was a big deal as well.

    GM needs an emergency exterior refresh of the Sierra & Silverado.

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 1:03 AM, vinnieboiblue wrote:

    No one should be surprised by the lackluster sales for GM. After rushing a newer truck only to see it looks too much like the last model, consumers are showing their anger by buying FORDS and Ram's. The stacked headlights even with led's are so old looking. The grill itself looks too much like the last model. They should have used the grill from the new Tahoe, and rounded out the squarish wheel wells. With those square wheel wells they make the tires look small and wimpy. The mistakes made on the Silverado, are basically the same as GM did on the Malibu. They replaced the well selling model with a new one only to see it lacked space.

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 1:26 AM, rssmo wrote:

    I bought a Ram 1500 a year ago because of the Ford being many thousand more and because I just wanted to try one again. I love it but it could get a couple more MPG. I would say this they will not be in 3rd place much longer... GO RAM GO

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 1:31 AM, McSniperliger wrote:

    8000 EcoDiesel Ram 1500s were sold in the first 3 days of release. We have been waiting for a reliable 1/2 ton diesel truck for a long time. GM did have one but it was a junk 6.2L diesel and before then was the 350 Olds. The 6.5L was not any better.

    Ford offered 2 diesels in the Ranger in the 80s a 2.2L Isuzu Pup and a Mitsubishi 4D55 2.3L diesel. Both were under powered but back then they could get 30+ mpg on a good day.

    I would buy a Dodge Ram 1500 with a diesel but I cannot afford to maintain or fill one up with Diesel fuel.

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 9:11 AM, Bumperhead wrote:

    I agree with Roberto and kca124: The market is over ready for a smaller diesel powered pickup for the light/midweight towing set with better mileage and capability.

    Ford tries to do it with turbos calling it eco boost as if its environmentally more friendly. Ever see the bill from a gas engine turbo repair? Silverado tries it with Variable cyl management. Didn't Cadillac try that in the 1980'S? Honda has it on the V6 accord and pilot. Take a look at the Consumer report ratings that just came out this month. Black circles for reliability long term.

    Good luck Ram. Now just don't price it out of reach..

    the 5.7 hemi is no slouch either on economy or power. But a friend of mine exercised NJ lemon law for persistent electrical problems and bought a Nissan Frontier instead. and he loved the 1500.

    I know Toyota has a diesel Land Cruiser in other parts of the world. What are they waiting for? I have had five and am on my last Tacoma.

    Ram, since Chryslers Iacocca, has always been an innovator. I feel the quality has to catch up to the features and this is holding me back.

    Bill

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 11:22 AM, rocketLuvr2 wrote:

    I own a Dodge Magnum V8 1500 & I can't stand it mostly seeing it won't pass emissions & it's awful gas mileage & it leaks ? near back window which is making the headliner droop,I'd rather find a car that needs a good motor and leave the truck,the Cost for New trucks makes lil sense there's less w a truck then a car,Sorry Dodge but had 2 & both were Problem trucks,I guess if U can afford to buy a new one every few years might be ok but we can't

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 11:40 AM, sabebrush6 wrote:

    Dodge Ram trucks have come a long way, but they've had a Cummins Diesel option for umteen years. They are expensive, but if you need a diesel, you need a diesel.

    I have driven Fords and Chevy's for many years and both were very good. I switched to Chevy because of the bad gas mileage that Ford use to get. I've had no problems with either. Great trucks.

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 1:02 PM, rodneyt74 wrote:

    When you add the GMC Sierra into the numbers this article is useless. They come off the same assembly line. Same truck.. So why ignore the GMC numbers.. I agree the Dodge has made a great truck but not comparing apples to apples.. your cherry picking numbers to make a article..

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 1:15 PM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    The Ram has a fatal flaw. It's tow ratings combined with it's load rating is way too low. Buyers are going to see 10k tow rating and think they are good yet once they realize that the tongue weight for a 10k trailer properly loaded means you have about 500 lbs left for a driver, all the passengers, and any gear. Also Dodge is being boosted by early sales of the diesel 1/2 ton, something that's going to die down once the early adopters get their truck.

    GM took a bailout, they are going to suffer for a decade or more. They are going to struggle to shed the "Government Motors" label. That alone has cost them lots in sales. They are counting on sales in China to keep the company going. I haven't even addressed their truck.

    That leaves Ford. It's big news that Ford has an all new design for next year. They are unloading the old design at a discounted rate. That's forcing the others to stay competitive. Of course the other two have "new" designs while the Ford is dated.

    Toyota and Nissan are waiting for the new Cummins diesel engine to come out. Their gas engines have the power but are behind in fuel mileage. I expect that in the next year or two that'll change.

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 1:22 PM, jimsmith22 wrote:

    I,m a Ram owner ! I have a new 2013 Ram 3500

    crew cab long bed it gets 15 mpg at 100 MPH !

    23 mpg going 65 mph and 17.8 all around

    It get far better mileage then the 1/2 ton when you

    pull a load and there is no other truck that gets 15 mph going 100mph buy the way I held this speed for 300 miles strait.

    This is a great truck with a new front end that steers great far better then the 2500 witch is changed for 2014.

    this is a great truck and I look great wile driving it!

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 9:19 PM, 1redwings wrote:

    yeah these are all very well built trucks, very reliable. Personally I prefer the body style of the Ram...it's bold and tough looking. Ford and Ram both have great interiors I like certain aspects of each. GM tends to play exterior and interior safe which is good but lets not slip in into the Toyota mode...too safe is also boring!! Go Motor City!!

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2014, at 4:23 AM, thesituation wrote:

    I worked at a large used car dealer and got to drive Trucks from all of the manufacturers. I like the Dodge trucks as much if not more than the Ford. The Chevys have come a long way. The one I was least impressed with was the Tundra ..........

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2014, at 10:40 AM, LouisTewl wrote:

    Once again we must endure the Ford/GM advertorial current that runs through TMF auto sector articles, whether by John Roseveer or, now, by Daniel Miller:

    "Further, the competition is about to heat up even more as Ford's next-generation 2015 F-150 hits the markets. Ford's truck buyers have historically been the industry's most loyal, and with the F-150's improved fuel economy it is sure to garner a large amount of sales later this year. I believe those factors will prevent the Ram from overtaking the Silverado this year,..."

    Why no mention at all of the Ram Eco-Boost?

    Is it maybe because:

    >“To put the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel in context, it gets 6 mpg better fuel economy than the best F150 EcoBoost,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO Ram Truck Brand.<

    When Daniel tries to hype the Ford Eco-Boost coming out "later this year", would that be, perhaps, in the FALL, meaning it will actually be the 2015 model?

    Please, stop the propaganda! TMF has a long position in both Ford and GM, and it shows in every auto-industry article written. For OBJECTIVE auto-sector news, the Wall Street Cheat Sheet site has (in my experience) earlier and more objective reports.

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2014, at 11:12 AM, Rotomoley wrote:

    The Silverado is dull. Right out of the box. It's a work truck. That's all. The ride is poor at best. Both Ford and the Ram offer more in more areas. Brilliant that Ram offers a small diesel. This will be the way forward for most folks.

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2014, at 12:23 PM, Shelley wrote:

    We bought a 2009 Dodge Hemi 4 door for towing the quad trailer and horse trailer. The gas mileage I got in the truck was 18 to 19 mpg driving on the hwy. That is with a 3 quad loaded trailer or a 3 horse 3300 lbs. with a 1200 lb. horse all weekends worth of gear and feed. Was not bad at all. I am looking for ward to getting a 2500 next year. I would like to move into a gooseneck weekend trailer. I don't want to get a dually though.

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