Is Chevrolet Attacking Ford's Aluminum Because Silverado Sales Are Flat And The F-Series Is Surging?

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
is chevrolet attacking ford s aluminum because silverado sales are flat and the

After watching General Motors drop 825 pounds of rock into the beds of a Chevrolet Silverado and a Ford F-150, I wasn’t caught up in fairness or relevance or with the advertisement’s status as a marketing stunt. Some observers asked whether GM crossed an unwritten line shared by Detroit’s cross-town truck rivals, as if in a year when presidential candidates toss deeply personal insults around like water balloons at a summer picnic a pickup truck critique would be over the line.

To me, it simply seemed clear from the moment of the ad’s YouTube launch that the Chevrolet Silverado’s apparent toughness advantage would be more frequently viewed than a traditional truck commercial. As of this writing, Chevrolet’s YouTube channel has racked up 4.4 million views with “Silverado Strong: Steel Bed Outperforms Aluminum Bed,” ten times more views than the channel’s 22 previous ads have generated in the last month, combined.

The Silverado could use the increased attention. U.S. sales of GM’s best-selling model line are flat despite a six-percent sales increase in the truck market so far this year.

GM could also stand to see the Ford F-Series taken down a peg. F-Series sales are growing faster than the sector as a whole.

In calendar year 2015, GM’s full-size pickup twins — Silverado and Sierra — combined to outsell the Ford F-Series lineup for the first time since 2009. But the Ford family was picking up steam after sliding 2 percent through the first-half of the year, a boom period for pickup truck sales. Second-half F-Series volume jumped 12 percent, and the F-Series hasn’t looked back since. Through the first five months of 2016, year-over-year F-Series volume is up 7 percent in a full-size pickup truck market that’s grown only 4 percent.

U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Silverado, meanwhile, rose to an eight-year high in calendar year 2015, climbing by 71,000 units compared with 2014. In early 2016, however, while U.S. new vehicle sales volume is rising steadily and the truck market appears very healthy, Silverado sales growth has stalled.

GM, fortunately, has seen a noticeable uptick in sales of the GMC Sierra, which has helped the twins to a 2-percent increase despite the Silverado’s slight downturn. But after outselling the F-Series by roughly 5,000 units in the first five months of 2015, the GM full-size twins trail the F-Series by 11,000 sales during the same period one year later.

The fickle U.S. sales race, fraught with all-encompassing figures that group lower-volume heavy-duty trucks with their light-duty brethren, isn’t the be all and end all of an automaker’s daily operations. But it’s reasonable to believe that General Motors, after making such headway last year when the F-150 was an all-new model, wants to take the resurgent Blue Oval down a peg in 2016. In so doing, if the soft glow of rugged, durable toughness casts a positive light on the Silverado’s bowtie grille, so be it.

From a strict sales perspective, the Honda Ridgeline’s subsequent performance — far less staged and consequently more believable — won’t result in hundreds of thousands of truck buyers shifting their allegiance to Honda. But the battles being waged are not at all dissimilar.

Chevrolet is determined to make the Silverado appear as the tougher full-size pickup truck. Honda must convince truck buyers that the Ridgeline is tough. Perhaps the er can come later.

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  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Jun 16, 2016

    This reminds me of ads that successfully ruined the market for the Chrysler Airflow. The ads by GM emphasized that the Airflow had an all steel body that wasn't reinforced with wood. They showed how a thin-walled steel tube could bend, while the same tube with a wooden dowel through it could not. The implication was that Chrysler's all steel line of Airflows were weak and dangerous. I've read that the other automakers weren't using any wood in many of their bodies by that time either, but the advanced Airflow was associated most with all-steel construction. The part that's important to GM is that the car buying public ate up their BS stunt and the Airflow withered on the vine, even if almost every advanced feature of the car would later become industry standard. A good BS stunt is better than being a pioneer in the market of ignoramuses today. If they can sell their conventional trucks a little longer by scaring people, they'll benefit now and nobody will remember when every pickup has to be aluminum with a time bomb for an engine.

  • Shawnski Shawnski on Jun 17, 2016

    What a ridiculous stunt. You reap (rip?) what you sow if you load an unprotected bed like this, regardless if it's steel (with scratches through the paint) or aluminum.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.