Fiat Chrysler's Pulling Out All the Stops to Boost Ram Sales Numbers
2019 Ram 1500s have begun arriving on dealer lots, but only in limited numbers. Not every trim and drivetrain configuration is currently available, as V6-powered models are not yet eligible for sale. Meanwhile, production of the previous-generation model continues.
Hoping to get more Ram transactions on its sales sheet, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has embarked on a multi-pronged strategy to lure buyers into any and all of its trucks and vans. In many cases, the sales will exist only on paper.
According to an email sent to dealers — seen by Automotive News— part of the cure for sliding sales involves the brand’s loaner fleet. In the month of April, dealers were told that Ram vehicles (both trucks and commercial vans) placed in the Courtesy Transportation Program would count towards monthly sales. Hardly a new practice, but it shows just how easily an automaker can juice its “sales.”
By adding vehicles to the loaner fleet, dealers can more easily reach sales goals, thus making them eligible for factory bonuses. However, the email claims that while the loaner vehicles will count towards monthly sales, those particular vehicles will be excluded from the potential bonus. If a dealer reaches its goal with a sales mix of three-quarter retail sales and one-quarter loaners, it will receive three quarters of the maximum bonus. These vehicles eventually end up on the used lot.
One dealer that spoke to Automotive News said they’d never seen FCA involve Ram pickups in the loaner fleet sales shuffle.
Sales of Ram-branded vehicles fell 13 percent in March, year over year, with sales over the first three months of 2018 down 14 percent. The losses stem from every vehicle in the Ram stable, from the relatively low-volume Ram ProMaster van (down 36 percent, year-to-date), the even lower volume ProMaster City (down 15 percent in March and 3 percent year-to-date), and the Ram pickup line (down 11 percent in March, and 13 percent year-to-date).
For actual consumers, FCA’s sales efforts mean a heavier wallet. $1,500 in bonus cash landed on the hood of 2017 Ram 1500s in April, with an extra $500 tacked onto Ram EcoDiesel models. 2018 Ram 1500s saw $500 in bonus cash added for those purchasing or leasing.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
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From the Freep: "In a call with analysts, CEO Sergio Marchionne said earnings could have been better if not for production difficulties at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant for the all-new 2019 Ram 1500. Production of the new pickup is currently at only 60%, "which is not where we need to be" and has cost about $300 million more than anticipated, he said. Marchionne added that he sees the problems as only short term and expects production to eventually improve. Production for the new Ram moved from the Warren Truck Assembly Plant. "I am not sleeping on the (factory) floor," Marchionne, 65, said in response to a question about production difficulties. "You have to be Elon’s (Musk) age to do that. I’m too old for that crap." So new model RAM sales may well be held back by shortages.
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