By on June 5, 2017

2017 Ram 1500 Rebel Blue Streak, Image: FCA

Ford’s F-Series is the undisputed king of the domestic pickup market. It’s high atop the mountain, looking down upon its rivals as they savagely bludgeon each other with gnarled branches. For years, the majority of that abuse fell on Ram. Then, all of a sudden, 2017 came and Chevrolet ended up with a broken nose. In the primeval battle of truck sales superiority, Chevy’s Silverado no longer occupies the second place position for full-size pickups. Ram does.

Alright, it isn’t quite that dramatic. General Motors’ truck offerings aren’t exclusive to the Silverado and the automaker still outsold Fiat Chrysler when factoring in pickup deliveries from its GMC division. However, we’re counting this as a victory for Ram because FCA needs one — and overtaking Chevy sales isn’t exactly small potatoes. This is a major leap forward for a brand that seemed perpetually in last place. 

Historically, Ram 1500 sales never bested the Silverado. But a combination of lagging interest in GM models and better than average FCA deliveries has created an upset in March, April, and May. It’s close, but Ram could beat Silverado’s annual sales for 2017 if the trend continues. However, even if it doesn’t, it should still result in the pickup’s best year on record.

“That’s a big crown to wear, to say you beat Silverado, and to see it happen month after month — it’s exciting. We’re enjoying it,” Joshua Wischnewsky, general manager of Texas’ Bayshore Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram, told Automotive News. “We have had probably our three biggest months of Ram trucks in the history of the store.”

Thanks to an impressive February, Chevrolet still leads by 5,055 units for 2017 but FCA is quickly closing the gap. Still, even with substandard sales, GMC’s Sierra should more than make up the difference. “One should never discount the contribution of GMC to our pickup strategy,” said GM spokesman Jim Cain. “It’s a high-volume, premium brand and it makes a monthly comparison to Silverado alone kind of unfair. It’s like we’re playing with one hand tied behind our back with that analysis.”

Sierra volume for May accounted for a below-average 16,200 units in the United States, while Canadian sales hit 6,241 trucks — a new record for the region.

With car sales shrinking, pickups are more important to the North American market than ever. Light trucks were up 9.3 percent last month and, as usual, all three automakers were pushing heavy incentives. At present, Chevrolet is offering 17 percent discounts on all light-duty Silverados — which Cain suggests are less aggressive than before. Meanwhile, F-Series incentives are closer to 14 percent while Ram deals are nearer to a whopping 20 points off.

Ford will likely go heavier with its promotions leading up to the fall refresh of the F-150. The next incarnation of the Ram should follow early in 2018 and General Motors should have redesigned Silverados and Sierras coming later next year.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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59 Comments on “Ram Overtakes Chevrolet in Domestic Full-Size Pickup Battle, Ford Unconcerned...”


  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Turbo’s, V6’s and aluminum was such a big mistake made by Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      It’s easier to look good when your competition’s​ main competincy is tripping over their dicks.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Would Ford be selling significantly less trucks should they not had gone that route?

      OTOH, we know that Ford’s profitability is down…

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        OTOH, we know that Ford’s profitability is down…

        So is it a case of “y’all still love the trucks, they just cost more to build.”?

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      I disagree with the Ecoboost being a mistake. People who own them seem to be thrilled with the power and economy of the Ecoboost. For instance, parents of a co-worker loved the Ecoboost in their F150 so much that they made sure that their Escape had that option. I haven’t encountered somebody yet that said, “I should have opted for the 5.0.”

      Regarding the aluminum, I think that the jury’s still out in the long term. I don’t know that it hurt Ford too much in sales.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        The power in the boost part of the ecoboost is pretty great. Its’ a great engine. I just wish they’d take off the eco part, because it ain’t.

        Aluminum is fine. People made too big a deal out of that (me too probably). The only downside is crash repair costs.

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          “I just wish they’d take off the eco part, because it ain’t.”

          It is, a little. I agree it was better named when it was first announced as TwinForce. By launch, it was renamed to EcoBoost.

          I’m an NA fan myself.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “I just wish they’d take off the eco part, because it ain’t.”

          it is, if you can control your right foot. If I encounter someone who complains about their fuel economy in one of these vehicles, it only takes me about 10 seconds to understand why. they claim they “drive gently,” but to them “gently” apparently means “my gas and brake pedals are on/off switches.”

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Jim,
            No.

            We have EcoThirsts.

            The EcoThirts are just work arounds to meet FE requirements.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @JimZ – I see that same issue all of the time. They view the gas pedal like a light switch. On or off.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “No”

            Yes.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            It’s pretty common knowledge that one must drive like the gas pedal is an egg shell to get anything resembling mileage out of most Ecoboost engines from Ford. My own experiences are as follows-

            2016 Expedition 3.5 EB/6 speed automatic with 23K miles
            15.2 average MPG. Best was 18.9 highway and worst was 12.6 in more city driving. All 3 figures were below the ratings and we drove it conservatively.

            2015 F-150 XLT 4X4 Crewcab EB 3.5/6 speed with 18K miles
            Average MPG 15.1. Best MPG 19 on mostly highway. Worst MPG 11.9 in mostly city driving with A/C on. Did not floor pedal once and drove normally

            2016 Fusion SE with 2.0 EB and appearance package with 18″ wheels Average MPG 24. best highway run 30.1 and worst city run 19.3. Again driven normally the same as my 2013 W-body V6 Impala which actually gets better mileage than this car.

            While none of these figures are really horrible they are on the low side considering the performance they gave in each vehicle. The F-150 was pretty quick though.

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          I guess the aluminum is okay. The only thing I notice is that panels are sometimes a little wavy, especially the doors on the SuperCrews.

      • 0 avatar
        slap

        Whoosh!!

  • avatar
    ajla

    I brought this up last week, but GM’s option availability, production mix, and overall pricing is terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      My business ordered a Ram 2500 a couple months ago and it was “retailed” in May. We test drove all three major brands prior to making a decision…I should say we drove two because the local GM dealer didn’t have diesel available to drive. That was frustrating. However, it wasn’t the dealer’s fault since we were told that diesels were in short supply. On top of it all, we were not able to know what our final purchase cost was going to be at the time of placing a factory order…GM doesn’t give those numbers until the moment of delivery which would be months out for a factory order of a diesel. The dealer was not on an even playing field with the other two brands.

      Ram got the order since it better suited our needs. (6-cyl. diesel, manual, and air suspension) That being said, our assessment was that Ford definitely has its act together on the commercial side and doesn’t need to be worried about Ram right away. Remove the two, current Ram-exclusive options of a manual transmission and air suspension, our choice would have been much harder.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Sorry but the dealer was BSing you if he told you he wouldn’t know the price of an ordered truck until it hit the lot. You should have found an actual fleet dealer.

        • 0 avatar
          EquipmentJunkie

          My brother said that the dealer’s sales guy was a bit green. However, at that point, the GM would have been the third truck test-driven and we were leaning rather heavily towards the air suspension of the Ram for our long gooseneck trailer.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      ajla,
      It would be interesting to see fleet numbers.

      Has GM reduced its fleet sales?

      Selling the mostest might not be GMs goal. They got burnt last time trying to sell the most, for the least.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    How’s the picture look with the GMC Sierra in the mix?

    Has the combined Silverado/Sierra volume slid with respect to F-series and Ram?

    I second ajla’s comments regarding GM’s truck option/configuration mix. Chevy offers the 5.3 and 6.2 gas in the 1500 but only the 6.0 and diesel in the 2500/3500. If one wants to maximize towing power you’ll have to spring for the HD diesel or the top-spec 1500 (LTZ/High Country) with the big gasser, both scenarios pushing $50k+ MSRP in crew cab guise.

    Ford will let you configure an F150 with the 3.5TT in trims that keep the MSRP hovering around $40k with a 10speed trans. Ram has the 8spd and Hemi well south of $40k.

    If GM would kill the 4.3, replace it with the 5.3, and substitute the 6.2 for the 5.3 without changing pricing they’ll start to turn it around.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Unlikely that GM could do that an meet CAFE, that is most likely the reason behind the 6.2 being only in the higher priced GMs. That keeps the take rate down and ensures a high profit sale when it does occur.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Nah, with the 10-speed the 6.2L SUVs should get 18 MPG. The CAFE level for that footprint is 19 for 2016-2021. Throw in some 4.3 and 5.3 sales and they’d be fine for a complete product cycle. Even at the current 17MPG the sales mix doesn’t dictate the 6.2L be as restricted as it is.

        Before negotiating, Ford will sell you a new aluminum-body, reg cab 3.5T 10-speed and 3.73 rear end for ~$30K. GM treats their stuff like it’s gold.

        • 0 avatar
          Tokenjeepguy

          I think Ford really understands the fleet/work truck market. While King Ranch and Platinum edition F-series may continue to rise in price they have kept the prices of base XL models fairly steady over the last few years. GM has not.

          It might also be worth mentioning that Ford will allow you to equip XL pickups with various off-road, heavy duty packages, and more powerful engines without having to spring for more luxury options. A big advantage for municipal fleets and construction/extraction companies.

          It would be interesting to have a breakdown of consumer vs fleet sales for all of the light truck manufacturers. Empirical evidence alone would tell me Ford has really cornered that market.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “This is a major leap forward for a brand that seemed perpetually in last place.”

    Agreed. But I have to wonder if this is really just a battle of the rebates.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I know if I go to Auto Trader and try to find the cheapest trucks with various option levels the cheapest advertised price I find is almost always RAM.

  • avatar
    Dan

    As a car guy it’s tempting to interpret sales changes in terms of the truck but that’s a fool’s errand when the name plates aggregate two wholly unrelated products. The white work trucks that the power company buys are 8/10 of the way to being a third product themselves.

    That said, I suspect that the great majority of the 300,000 Colorados that GM has sold went to buyers who would have otherwise bought a half ton on the same lot and back of the napkin math suggests that lumping those sales together puts GM’s truck market share right back where it has historically been.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      As of the end of May Ford has sold over 3,000 more F series than all 4 of GM’s nameplates combined so far this year.

      The problem is slicing it up between the two platforms cuts into profits.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    So what are the chances that the domestics chase the fullsize truck and SUV gravy train right off a cliff (again) and get stuck without competitive cars when the economy stumbles and/or gas prices spike?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      FCA doesn’t have a lot of options at this point, but I don’t think GM and Ford are in terrible spot in the event of a fuel price spike. They both have active and competitive EV/hybrid programs.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed with ajla on the domestics, with some more $0.02:

      Even with $4 gas, the F-150 was a best-seller. Gas price spikes tend to create sales spikes, but not sales *trends*.

      A new factor the next time gas prices go up: CUVs. People are buying them like candy, but their city fuel economy isn’t great – like low 20s in real life – because that’s what tall 4-cylinder boxes get. Very few hybrid CUVs are available. So if gas spikes, the CUV segment could actually suffer the most percentage drop. But what would people buy instead? For most people, I’m not sure EVs will be the answer to that question, but it would be for me.

      In FCA’s favor is the plug-in Pacifica minivan, but that’s about it.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Chrysler is screwed since they got out of the car business, but Ford and to a lesser extent GM will be OK, they both have a full stable of cars and at least in the case of Ford will have a hybrid pickup that will actually be useable and they will have the ability to produce it in great numbers if the demand is there.

      • 0 avatar

        Sergio actually maybe a bigger idiot than Bara.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Sergio actually maybe a bigger idiot than Bara.”

          Selling small cars at a narrow margin or loss made (sort of) sense when the CAFE rules allowed for those sales to offset low MPG trucks. Now the rules don’t do that. So it doesn’t make much sense from a business standpoint.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Customer’s will put $4/gal gas in their pickups as long as they can afford it. If the economy takes a dump, pickup sales will slump.

      But that doesn’t make small cars any more profitable either, or necessarily improve their sales.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Last time that gas hit $4/gal around here the front line of the Chevy dealer was all Malibu and smaller cars instead of the Pickups and SUV’s that had been in that prime real estate. The local train yard where the GMs are stored as they await deliver to the dealer also saw a shift in the mix of vehicles moving through. Not sure if they were able to capatialize on the increase in demand for the smaller cars by cutting back discounting or not. However those dealers that bet too strongly on the Aveo were seen heavily discounting them once people had been desensitized to $4/gal.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Right? Everyone wanted the domestics to sell small cars. They were hesitant because they’re hard to sell and hard to profit from. So, we got the Fiesta, the Spark, etc and guess what? They don’t sell well and they probably don’t make money.

          “If the domestics want to survive, they should bring us tiny cars that we won’t buy and they will not profit from! That will fix it! How could it not? Stop selling vehicles that make money, just produce ones that don’t. That is how you win!”

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Yep, queue the sad SUV driver on the evening news who can’t afford to refuel his thirsty steed. The news cycle can get pretty stale. Same news every time fuel spikes. He could have been driving something more efficient or affordable and banking the savings…

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Did the F-Series sales stop when gas prices rose? No. It remained the best selling vehicle during the whole financial crisis and during high gas prices. People still bought trucks. People will continue to buy trucks, and as they are constantly getting better mileage, fuel prices are less and less of a concern.

      How long before domestic-brand-hating armchair executives actually pay attention to the market and stop looking for ways to prove how right they are?

      How long before the thought of “truck sales stop when gas prices rise” is replaced by actual evidence which shows trucks continuing to sell when gas spiked?

      How long before people realize that we now have an abundance of oil, OPEC doesn’t control us anymore, and that their predictions of skyrocketing fuel prices are baseless and ignorant?

      Would it be better if the Tundra was selling great, while Ford, GM and Ram’s truck sales were circling the drain? Of course it would! Then people who drive a 11 MPG lifted V-8 4×4 truck through the concrete jungle to their office job everyday wouldn’t be looked down upon and thought of as stupid anymore since they wouldn’t be in a vehicle with an American nameplate.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The F-series was outsold by the Camcord and Civolla in a few months in 2008. The F-series did keep the overall sales crown, but still that was the first time in 17 years it happened, which I think is notable.

        In general, trucks and SUVs took 2008 hardest while ChryslerCo was absolutely shredded. Cerberus was in full hysteria mode that year. $2.99 gas deals, lifetime powertrain warranties, 25+% incentives, ‘ENVI’ vaporware programs.

        goodcarbadcar.net/2013/02/2008-america-auto-sales-rankings-by-model.html

        Granted, there was more than just high fuel prices going on in 2008, and as you wrote large vehicles are more fuel efficient today, but I still think it is risky to go with a “people will just keep buying the same thing” strategy.

        Like I wrote earlier today, GM and Ford look reasonably prepared for a fuel spike, but could FCA survive a 30+% drop in Ram, JGC, and Wranglers with nothing much to satisfy high-economy demand?

        • 0 avatar

          I think to Danio’s point. It takes high gas prices and a bad economy to kill trucks. When gas prices first spiked in 2005 there was a shift in buying pattern but not a large one. So you would need a spike of both to cause real issues.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Would a fuel spike or recession make the Dart or 200 more profitable? No.

          They’d prefer to sell you a Cherokee which is. Buyers are going the small crossover route and the transaction prices reflect it.

      • 0 avatar
        Tokenjeepguy

        Ford trucks are incredibly popular for the fleet/work truck market. I think that was a big factor in them weathering the recession and high gas prices.

        On the consumer side Jeep Wrangler sales only increased during periods of high gas prices. Meanwhile sales of the Xtera, Hummer, FJ Cruiser and other aggressive SUVs declined. $4 a gallon gas was chlorine in the Jeep pool. Guess some buyers/owners of certain models are just more resilient to paying a bit extra.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Even though data show Silverado and Sierra as separate entries, and the Ram beat the Silverado (May data), in fact all three American manufacturers are competing against the pickup truck offerings from the parent manufacturers.

    So, since Sierra and Silverado come down the same assembly lines, and are essentially the same vehicles (except facade and some options), shouldn’t you add a row that combines data from those two?

    Look, I’m a Ram guy, and love it that the un-updated Silverado, — good truck that it is — is taken to the cleaners, but am trying to be objective here…(^_^)…

    =========================

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      There have been twins (or more) sold throughout the industry for ever, they aren’t usually combined in sales charts. For example, nobody counted Taurus sales combined with Sable, and nobody counts the Avalon and Lexus ES together, but they were/are the same vehicle that rolls down the same assembly line with essentially only cosmetic differences, just like Silverado/Sierra. The fact that they combine to outsell Ram was mentioned.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I have driven all the pickups and I can see the attractiveness in the Ram.

    They are the most ideal pickup for the 75% who have them as car alternatives. You know the wannabe truckers.

    Ram also have the best engine line up and as good a drivetrain line up.

    For the price they are very good.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    If GM keeps trying to jam round wheels into square wheel holes, sales will continue to slip. Looks terrible.

    And leaf springs. Really?

    I also do not understand why they keep the GMC brand. Just call them all Chevy Truck. Let Buick dealers sell Chevy Trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      What is so hard to understand about GMC? It makes money, that’s why its there.

      If that wasn’t so, it would be right next to Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Saab (meaning dead).

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      As goofy as it sounds, GMC captures sales of those that hate Chevy and would never (in a million years!) buy one.

      When you consider “GMC” a “trim level” of the Silverado line, that besides being crazy profitable, creates a 2nd opportunity to sell an upgrade Silverado (platform) in case they missed (or purposely avoided) the Chevy dealer on the way (across town) to look a new Ram, Ford, etc.

      “GMC” (the brand, not necessarily the trucks) is one of the handful of things GM has done right.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @DenverMike – You probably remember this; there was an article a long time ago on a “truck” site that asked the question, “Which truck would you buy if your favorite brand went away?”
        Surprisingly enough, the majority of GM Sierra guys would not buy a Chevy as their alternative but the majority of Chevy guys would pick the GM as their alternative.

  • avatar

    This is yet another blow to the Bara reign. I guess it is ok for GM to lose market share in every category as long as profits are sound.

  • avatar
    AVT

    Given the impressive strides Ram has made in sales numbers and the stability Ford has maintained with its number one spot, it still baffles me that GM still owns the full size body on frame SUV market. Logically, one would think since all of them are based off the brands respective truck platform, the brand that sells the most trucks should hypothetically sell the most body on frame SUVS (Suburban, Expedition-EL, I guess the durango doesn’t technically count, Sequoia, Armada, etc.) I’m not saying that GM SUV’s are bad, but given that they have basically owned 70%+ of the market since the 2000’s, I’m amazed that other brands haven’t made larger inroads in this category of vehicles. I personally would take an expedition EL over a suburban given the massive power difference that you feel (but not over a denali) but for me, the sequoia is just about perfect. Reliable, right size (think tweener between Tahoe and Suburban), and the SR5 trim really nails it on pricing and feature content. The armada is the definitely the best value but given the options I want the sequoia still comes out ahead.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’ve mulled over this article for a while now, and can’t figure out how Ram has outsold Chevy.

    Does FCA put tons of money on the hood? Has their quality gotten that good – which is hard for me to believe, but wonderful if true?

    Just wondering.

    • 0 avatar

      A little from column A a little from Column B. They are the oldest of the big 3 trucks rights now (the Tundra is older) so they do sell on price. But they also have really good interiors and ride for the price. They also sell the 5.7 in very cheap configurations. They also get very good MPG in the pentastar and ecodiesel versions (eco diesel on sales hold now). Reliability is a mixed bag but I will say ram trucks tend to run op very high mileage, only GM tends to have trucks on the road longer. I think in 2013 to 2015 consumer reports recommended ram, but I want to say they slipped in ratings in 2016. There was a quote in 2015 where the actually recommended buying the Ram over the F150 and Tundra.
      I know the ecodiesel dragged down reliability in it’s first year or two.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Judging by several recent owners of the Ram that I have spoke to quality control is still hardly great. We had a rental 2016 Ram and the Hemi V8 already had what sounded like an intermittent lifter tick in the engine at idle and the transfer case developed a whine on the highway with only 12K miles on the clock. Not a great sign that. As for money on the hood several dealers were putting 10-12K on the hood of certain higher optioned Ram during March thru May. For June the discounts are less on the cheaper ones and about 10K off on the SLT and Laramies.
      Several XLT 4X4 crew cabs with Hemi engine/8 speed are stickered at 49975 and are on sale for 39995 as an example. That is more of a discount than GM is giving and up until recently the stupid red tag event made only very certain specific vehicles cheaper. That fiasco cost GM a lot of sales from what I have heard.

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