By on June 26, 2018

In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company replaced the original formula of its flagship soft drink and called the beverage “New Coke.” The new label was tucked into the corner, as this was to become the brand’s staple flavor. But the soda company knew better than to gamble its business on an unproven taste, so it retained the old formula and bottled it as “Coca-Cola Classic.” The end result was more sales and a safety net for those unwilling to steer their taste buds into adventure.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is doing the same thing with the Ram brand. The full-size 1500 pickup truck was replaced for the 2019 model year. However, FCA wanted to keep both the fourth and fifth generations of the half-ton hauler on the books.

Since Ram can’t call them both the 1500 and hope people recognize the difference, it’s appending the older model with the Classic nameplate. The brand will offer both the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic, known internally as the DS model, and the all-new 2019 Ram 1500, marked as the DT, at all North American dealers through the 2018 calendar year.

“As we launch the all-new 2019 Ram 1500, we didn’t want to walk away from a key part of the light-duty truck market,” said Mike Manley, head of the truck brand. “Ram will continue to produce the 1500 Classic targeted at entry and commercial buyers.”

Alright, so why is FCA really doing this? The Coke strategy could play a factor. By offering both the DS and DT, Fiat Chrysler can flood the extremely popular pickup market with two full-sized models. But that’s not the only reason FCA might have to keep the older vehicle around.

As of last week, examples of the new 1500 were limited to models equipped with the 5.7-liter Hemi. The Environmental Protection Agency has been slow to grant approval to the brand’s mild-hybrid powertrains — which include the Hemi and a 3.6-liter V6. Strangely, neither FCA or the EPA have specified why.

Keeping the older model around will buy Ram some time as those approvals go through and production has a chance to catch up. For 2019, the Ram 1500 Classic is offered in four trims: Tradesman, Express, Big Horn/Lone Star and Special Services Vehicle (SSV). The Classic also benefits from three new packages, bundled in a comprehensive way to minimize overall costs and assembly headaches.

For example, the Chrome Plus package available on the Tradesman adds all the shiny bits you can handle, along with keyless entry. The Tradesman SXT slaps dual exhaust ports on V8 models, fog lamps, 20-inch chrome wheels, and a upsized center console. An Express Black Accent Package is offered on all Express trim exterior colors but adds black wheels and badging.

The 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter V8 carry over, but a new 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel is said to become available at a later date. Bed sizes and cab configurations are enough to satisfy anyone’s needs and the price difference is enough to keep buyers interested in the older model. If you found a build you liked on the old pickup, you’ll surely be happy with the new-old truck.

Currently, the fourth-generation 1500 starts at $27,295, undercutting the new base model by $4,400 (which you can order by not own). It won’t officially become the Classic until the final quarter of 2018, by which time the EPA may have approved those mild-hybrid powertrains.

[Image: FCA]

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55 Comments on “In With the Old: 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Joins New Model to Energize Sales...”


  • avatar
    whynot

    EPA numbers for the V8 etorque are actually out now, although not yet on the EPA’s website. Its 17/22/19 (city/highway/combined) for the 4×4.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    How common is this among manufacturers? I know Nissan did it with the Rogue Sport and Chevrolet generally does it to Malibus as soon as the new generation is released, with the newly minted Chevrolet Classic soldiering on for a few more years. Is this a fairly common practice, or is it merely not uncommon?

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      It is getting more common. GM is also going to do it with the Silverado/Sierra. 2019 “Sierra Limiteds” are hitting the lots now:

      https://www.gmc.com/trucks/sierra-1500-limited-pickup-truck

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      Infiniti kept the G37 Sedan around for a while after the replacement came about. They just called it the Q40 (replacement = Q50).

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Ford has also done it, in 2004 with the F-150, calling the old style “Heritage” sold beside the new F-150.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Count Volkswagen among that group, too. They have a long history of keeping vehicles that have already been superseded, the ultimate example of which was the air-cooled cars that continued long after their water-cooled replacements debuted. They usually do it in price-sensitive markets. For instance, in the late 2000s, the Mk.5 and Mk.6 Golfs were already out, but VW sold the Mk.4 in Canada—with an unsuccessful nose job—as the Golf City. And the VW Santana is a B2 Passat that VW continues to sell in China.

      Here in the ‘States, recently, the previous-gen Tiguan has been sold alongside the current one, although that won’t continue for 2019.

      What’s truly interesting is when entire tooling and design gets sold off to other automakers in other countries. Look up the Volga Siber and see if you can guess its origin.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      Used to be popular amongst French manufacturers – the previous gen Clio was sold as Clio Campus when the mid 2000s Clio was introduced.

      And Peugeot had the 206 on their books long after the 208.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      Ford actually did this in Europe in the late 90s.

      They had the Euro Escort that was a facelift of a facelift of a poorly received 1991 car.

      They introduced the Focus which was a huge step up in quality and handling, but they feared the modern styling would alienate conservative customers, so they kept the old Escort in production for another few years until everyone came around to the Focus.

      Ford had already had their fingers burnt with the modern aero 1982 Sierra (the sports version of which was sold as the Merkur XR4Ti) which replaced the conventional Cortina sedan. It drove buyers into the arms of GM Vauxhall-Opel with the J body Cavalier/Ascona. Even Hyundai got a slice of the action as they had built the Cortina under license and based their new Stellar sedan on it, their marketing claimed that it was the true successor model to the Cortina.

      Ford obviously didn’t want to repeat this.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Old Saturn VUE became the Chevrolet Captiva for rental sales only. Old style Cobalt sold alongside the longer lower wider new one for a year.

      FCA keeps selling the old Caravan along with the Pacifica.

      Old Chrysler kept the Valiant and Dart around for a year after the Aspen/Volare arrived. Ford did the same with the Maverick when the Granada came out [ironically supposed to be the next generation Maverick].

      That last gen Ram is a beautiful vehicle and I do not in the least find trucks appealing.

      Tradesman V6 would be my choice. Is a manual still available ?

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    When Coca-Cola introduced the “New Coke”, Pepsi pounced and launched an ad campaign claiming “The Other Guy Blinked”. This forced Coca-Cola to market “Coca-Cola Classic”. The New Coke debacle is still discussed in business classes today.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      This case probably has little to do with anything coke rather than the fact that they are producing DT in the retooled Sterling Heights plant so why no keep making the DS in the Warren plant until Sterling Heights is fully online.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yup they realized that they didn’t have a hope in getting the new truck line up and running at the needed capacity and to keep a value leader for the fleet and cheapskate market to support the higher price/lower incentives on the new model as long as they could.

        Note when Ford introduced the new Aluminum F-150 they had a several month period until the second plant was up and running at speed where they did not make fleet grade vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        I was just explaining the New Coke disaster, the author seems to believe that Coca-Cola wanted both the old and new product, it didn’t. They planned to discontinue the original until Pepsi publicly destroyed them and their own customers vigorously complained. It was a textbook branding mistake.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      In my business classes, the theory was discussed that the New Coke fiasco was actually a clever ploy to give people nostalgia for the old formula that they had never felt before. Bolstering this case is the fact that “old” Coke sales took off like a rocket after it was reintroduced, and that they made lasting share gains vs Pepsi. Not sure I buy it, but interesting to consider.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        I had a similar discussion in business school – students wanted to believe that the new coke was a clever way to gain market share. I doubt it – it was just a branding fiasco as Coke was scared that Pepsi was making inroads with blind taste tests – showing Pepsi was the preferred product. But the product is more than the sugar water, it also includes the label slapped on the bottle – and its shocking to think that coke people didn’t know the power of their own brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        There were two reasons for the switch to “New Coke”. First, it was made with corn syrup, which was far cheaper than sugar. Second, Pepsi was killing Coke in blind taste tests. Coke flipped the script by changing the formula twice and marketing nostalgia. You didn’t catch the change in taste, did you? I didn’t. We were just happy they got rid of that nasty new stuff.

        • 0 avatar
          MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

          I was just a kid but I liked New Coke. I am 50/50 on regular Coke or Pepsi now but Diet is what I normally drink and Diet Coke is SO MUCH BETTER than Diet Pepsi. Not even close.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Ford did this with the 2004 “Heritage” model F-150, and Chevy sold the 1987 model Silverado alongside the all new 1988s. . I think this is a good idea.
    Coke did their New Coke Fiasco at the time when they should have been celebrating an hyping the 100th Anniversary of “Old” Coke.. It was a study in blown opportunities, and very puzzling. It was compared at the time to the Edsel.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      They also did it with the Jelly Bean, introducing it as a very early (Jan 96)1997 and continued to make the old truck through the end of the normal 1996 model year.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    “Since Ram can’t call them both the 1500 and hope people recognize the difference…”

    Isn’t this exactly what Jeep did with the 2018 JK and JL Wranglers?

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Now strip ’em out to the bare bones and shove ’em out the door for $20k with 2WD and a V-6, regular cab/8′ bed. They’ll sell like ice cream in July.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      20k is what a 2wd v6 Ram regular cab long bed in Tradesman trim sells for on the ground. Lots of them sitting around waiting to be bought. It’s always been that way, Ram’s been really good about keeping stripped down work trucks available on dealer lots.

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        What part of the country are you in? Around here, that’s a $23k truck.

        • 0 avatar
          TwoBelugas

          SF Bay Area. toward latter part of year you can get one around 18-19k if you are not picky about color and can settle for a white one. I talked to the fleet manager I got my HD from and he confirmed their price typically includes a 1000 dollar lease conquest but no other hidden stacked incentives, and he can sell me one for 20k for one advertised for 19k.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    No when they introduced “new Coke” they did not sell it along side old Coke, they discontinued the original formula. Outrage ensued, along with a lawsuit or two and 77 days later they introduced Coca-Cola Classic with the “Original Formula” tag line.

    So no this is nothing like the Coca-Cola strategy because there was not a strategy to sell them along side one another, there was a strategy to replace the old product which back fired.

    Also the EPA doesn’t “approve” a power train, they accept the materials submitted by the mfg. https://www.epa.gov/vehicle-and-engine-certification/certification-and-fuel-economy-light-duty-passenger-cars-and-trucks Of course if you don’t submit all the required materials and the person with the proper credentials doesn’t request a Certificate of Conformity they won’t automatically issue one.

    Note how it all is done electronically pretty much instantly w/o any human review.

    So if it isn’t approved it is because either Chrysler still hasn’t got it finalized or they are just dragging their feet on getting the submission completed.

  • avatar
    TR4

    Triumph did this in 1961 when they sold the TR3 and TR4 concurrently. The story goes that the dealers thought their customers would not like the more modern styling and fancy roll up windows of the TR4. They were soon proven wrong.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    DT isn’t available as a single cab yet. Id take the old style in Blue Streak, single cab shortbed 4×4…Hemi of course! Best of all, Id still have the common 5×5.5 wheel bolt pattern instead of that idiotic new 6 bolt pattern. I always go aftermarket wheels, and I don’t want anything over 18″…17s are better, and I like classic styles like slot mags, not the ugly twisted designs that are in ‘style’ right now…

  • avatar
    jack4x

    “Bed sizes and cab configurations are enough to satisfy anyone’s needs…”

    Well unless of course you actually haul people and things in your truck and want a back seat with an 8 foot bed.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    $4,400 increase in the base model price, I’m surprised no one’s talking more about that. Didn’t that happen with the Wrangler as well? Last year you could get a Sport starting at $24K, and now they’re thousands more. I hope the price increases are at least bringing some extra equipment.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      In a year or two the dealers will be able to give you an “amazing deal” with $4400 off! Imagine that. Trucktober only.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Mayhap so. But it’s an initial turn off. The first time I visited the Wrangler’s new configuration tool, I turned around and left as soon as I saw the starting price. It was already $4,000 less appealing than the old Sport model. Fewer games, and maybe I’d be interested in visiting my nearby Dodge-Jeep dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      I would wait til the regular cab is available to see what the overall increase is, as mentioned above the quad and crew cabs are the only available ones so far.

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        Yes, the new Ram 1500 is actually <$1000 more expensive than the old Ram, once you compare like to like (Tradesmen Quadcab). The base price for the old Ram 1500 is with the regular cab short bed, a model that does not exist yet with the new 1500.

        • 0 avatar
          TwoBelugas

          @TMA1

          You should really talk to a car buying consultant before being turned off of automobiles for good. I think there are a few of those floating around TTAC.

  • avatar
    ant

    when did coke switch from sugar to corn syrup?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Fully and completely in the US with the reintroduction of the “original formula” Before that some of the bottlers had made the switch and some hadn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        Cleveland Coca-Cola is still sugar during Jewish high holy holidays.. It’s got a yellow cap with the kosher symbol. I get to stock up for cheap without having to pay the hipster tax for the glass bottles.. Tho the glass 12oz is a superior tasting product

        • 0 avatar
          Sub-600

          I don’t know if it’s a limited market situation but you can buy Pepsi with real sugar here, year round. Yes, the glass bottles are the way to go.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    2019 MY should be a great time to buy a truck IMHO.

    Old RAM and new RAM sold concurrently (Big Horn Crew Cab Hemi 4×4 is just fine thanks) – if you don’t want a giant tablet on the dash.

    Old Sierra and new Sierra as well as old Silverado and new Silverado being sold together. (But in limited body style selection.)

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Looking at them side by side at the dealer the new truck is handsome enough other than the stupid emblem on the hood now. I would by an aftermarket hood just to get rid of it and have all the new refinements. Or, in this case maybe buy the classic because they are pretty sharp and give up the chenges. Should I need to buy a truck, which I don’t.

  • avatar

    I went to a FCA dealer the other day and could not see one appealing vehicle. Ok, the Hellcat and a few other muscles cars are interesting.


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