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  • American automakers take their trucks extremely seriously.

  • And the ongoing battles for dominance among the Detroit three are

  • often called the "Truck wars".

  • General Motors, the largest U.S.

  • automaker overall, sells the most trucks, if you count full-size and

  • mid-sized pickups.

  • Ford F-Series is the best selling line of full-size trucks.

  • But, third place challenger Ram has made its own waves in recent

  • years, snagging major industry awards and stealing market share from

  • rivals. Ram is killing it.

  • U.S. sales of Fiat Chrysler's truck brand have roughly tripled in the

  • last decade, and the brand seems to be taking food out of its rivals

  • mouths. After taking the helm of Fiat Chrysler in 2018,

  • new CEO Mike Manley said he wanted to make Ram the second-best

  • selling full-size pickup brand in the U.S.

  • In the first three quarters of 2019,

  • Ram surprised the automotive world by passing Chevrolet in sales, and

  • some think Ram could very well stay in second place, fulfilling

  • Manley's goal. To be fair, others are quick to note the timing has

  • been in Ram's favor and that the game is too early to call.

  • What is certain is that this upstart is now posing a more serious

  • threat to its rivals than ever before.

  • It's a stunning rise for a brand

  • some in the industry thought Fiat Chrysler was foolish to create in

  • the first place. The

  • Ram brand was once actually part of Dodge, but the two were separated

  • as Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy under the oversight of the late

  • Sergio Marchionne.

  • The idea was that the split would allow Ram to focus exclusively on

  • trucks while permitting Dodge to focus on developing performance

  • vehicles, including its popular Challenger and Charger, as well as

  • sport utility vehicles and its long-running Caravan minivan.

  • Some in the industry questioned the wisdom of spinning the Ram brand

  • out at a time when cross-town rival General Motors was axing several

  • of its own brands.

  • First of all, the Ram name has a long history with Dodge itself.

  • The company first started using the Ram logo on its cars in 1932, and

  • it was still used on Dodge models until FCA began rolling out new

  • logos sometime after the brand's split in 2009.

  • As one of the four American full-sized pickup brands, Rams sold

  • reasonably well, but were often known as a more affordable

  • alternative to those offered by GM and Ford.

  • The audio you're about to hear is distorted due to recording issues.

  • They were less expensive, the interiors weren't that great.

  • They were pretty basic.

  • It wasn't the kind of truck that GM or Ford had on the road.

  • Ram simply could not compete with the capability offered by rivals.

  • But after Fiat took over and the company began to emerge from

  • bankruptcy, Ram came out swinging.

  • In 2010, GM and Ford were roughly tied and pickup market share, each

  • with just over 38 percent with Ram solidly in third place at just

  • 14.6 percent.

  • But, over the next eight years, Ram grew its share of the market to

  • more than 22 percent, while Ford lost one percent of its share and GM

  • lost nearly five.

  • To be fair, Japanese import brand Toyota also lost some share at that

  • time from 6.8

  • percent of the market to 4.9

  • percent and fellow Japanese maker Nissan gained a sliver of market

  • share. But Ram is now threatening to displace Chevrolet as these

  • second best selling full-size pickup brand in the United States.

  • So how did it do this?

  • By offering something different, say industry analysts?

  • So I think Ram's idea then was OK, then maybe, our strategy should be

  • to build a really, really good all around truck.

  • Let's make it comfortable.

  • Let's make the interiors nice.

  • Let's make the ride quality really good.

  • Two areas where Ram really shines our interiors and technology.

  • The interior of the truck is just unbelievably great.

  • The technology is unbelievable.

  • They've got the biggest screen, it looks like a laptop.

  • Ram made a bet that seems particularly suited to the times.

  • Owners are more accepting of technology than they ever have before.

  • There's examples of new technology being put into pickup trucks that

  • kind of fell flat. General Motors had a four-wheel steering system

  • for their pickup trucks, which was terrific.

  • But the problem was that it was an expensive option, and at that

  • time, pickup truck owners, their feedback was, I already know how to

  • move my truck. I already know how to tow.

  • I already know how to do this stuff.

  • I don't need to spend the man's money that you're asking to have this

  • technology help me do that.

  • But times have changed.

  • Now we have buyers of every demographic that are far more willing to

  • let technology help them do things.

  • And as a result, the big screen in the Ram has drawn a lot of

  • attention. As a result, some of the technology that General Motors

  • has brought it to their Chevrolet and to the GMC, there's a lot more

  • cameras on board.

  • There's ways to save your towing of your trailer information to your

  • truck so that if you have three trailers, every time you hook it up,

  • you just call up that information and you don't have to reset it.

  • There's lots of things in both of those trucks that make it easier to

  • work with them. And the Ram got out into the market a little bit

  • earlier. One feature in the 2019 Ram 1500 truck that has had the

  • automotive world buzzing is the large 12 inch touchscreen in the

  • center of the console.

  • Ram boasted that the screen was the largest found in any truck in its

  • class. If you asked a pickup truck owner, before they had the big

  • screen in the Ram if they wanted a big screen, they'd probably said,

  • no. I don't want that.

  • I don't need that. I don't need to do that.

  • But now that it's there, they're reacting to it strongly.

  • FCA's new strategy was well-timed.

  • The pickup market has changed over the last decade as truck sales

  • have risen. Along with the boom in sport, utilities and crossovers,

  • pickup trucks have become popular options for drivers who might have

  • a wider range of uses in mind then in previous eras.

  • For instance, there has been a rise in the portion of four seat and

  • four door models in the pickup market.

  • Ram said more than 50 percent of its pickups are "family trucks".

  • FCA has also used a tactic that some industry observers say has

  • contributed to the brand's sales success - selling an outgoing model

  • along a newly redesigned one, typically at a lower price.

  • Ram's rise is partly notable because pickup truck buyers have

  • historically been considered among the most brand-loyal in the

  • automotive market.

  • Ford buyers typically don't buy GM trucks, and just the opposite, GM

  • buyers typically don't buy Ford trucks, but what's interesting is

  • either one of those buyers will consider a Ram truck.

  • Dealer

  • Don "K" Kaltschmidt, who sells both Chevrolet and Ram and owns

  • products from both GM and Fiat Chrysler, said that in some ways Ram

  • does outdo the Chevrolets, but he thinks it isn't over yet.

  • The GM truck product is very, very strong here for good reason.

  • It is important to understand the timing has also worked in Ram's

  • favor. The Ram went into production roughly eight months before the

  • Chevrolet product did.

  • So, there was a bit of a head start and sort of building it and

  • having it online and having it available for the dealerships.

  • Another element is that Ram has kept the previous generation of

  • production longer than Chevrolet has.

  • A spokesman for General Motors told CNBC, the launch of our Chevrolet

  • Silverado has gone exceptionally well and combined with the GMC

  • Sierra, we are quite pleased with the quality of our market share.

  • As of November 2019, Ford said its F-Series lineup outsold Ram by

  • 225,000 trucks for the year, a lead the company expected to widen by

  • the end of 2019, a spokesman told CNBC.

  • Ford has so far been the best selling line of pickups in the US for

  • the last 42 years.

  • The "Blue Oval" has also been hyping its upcoming hybrid and fully

  • electric versions of the F-series.

  • Electric vehicles are important and they're happening and they're

  • coming, but they're also coming slowly.

  • That's kind of important to remember.

  • Even as Ford and GM are talking and start talking about electric

  • pickup trucks, once they're here, the sales ramp up is probably going

  • to be a pretty slow.

  • Pickup truck battles are fierce in ways that fights in other segments

  • are not. You get excited about a pickup truck because it either helps

  • you feed your family, or you're into horses.

  • It's an enabler to do something that you truly care about.

  • And, that makes it much more important emotionally than I'm going

  • back and forth to work and it's just a mode of transportation.

  • There are also a huge source of profits for automakers.

  • So industry watchers aren't expecting this one to be over anytime

  • soon. If you think about building a small car and you need so

  • much amount of steel or so much amount of wiring harness, or so much

  • amount of leather or cloth to cover the seats and you can charge

  • $20,000 for a small car.

  • You need more of all of those materials to build a pickup truck, but

  • you're charging four times the cost.

  • It's an interesting element of the market too.

  • Smaller products are not as profitable, as larger products.

American automakers take their trucks extremely seriously.

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Why GM And Ford Are Worried About RAM

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    joey joey posted on 2021/04/25
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