Study: Ram No. 1 on Young Truck Shoppers' Lists

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Domestic automakers are enamored with the full-sized pickup segment because it’s a reliable way of securing hundreds of thousands of sales in North America on an annual basis. Here, Ford’s F-Series reigns supreme. That might not always be the case, however, especially with younger buyers opting to purchase their pickups at competing brands.

Last month, Edmunds released a study claiming Ram is leading the charge with buyers under 35 — saying the brand had won over “the most coveted section of the market.”

Using data from IHS Markit, the group reported that Ram sold 43,282 new vehicles to people under 35 in 2019. That’s more than Ford’s F-Series (40,968 deliveries) or Chevy’s Silverado (39,181) could manage. In fact, Ford seemed to give its market share over to Ram, which gained 10 percent vs 2018 while Ford lost about 14 percent. The metrics used prohibit a direct, one-to-one comparison, unfortunately.

By selling the older-generation Ram (dubbed the Classic) alongside the new model, Fiat Chrysler has managed to stack the deck in its favor. FCA can effectively count two separate models as one when reporting sales, with the cheaper Ram Classic making an appetizing dish for subprime and commercial buyers.

Speaking with Edmunds this week, Automotive News noted the major price difference between the typical transaction price of new Ram models ($48,753) and the Classic ($39,121). But the distance doesn’t prohibit trim levels or special equipment packages, something which Ram has in spades (see the above Ram Classic Warlock Edition). That makes it a nice, big alternative to midsize trucks the brand lacks, but Ford and GM will be happy to sell you.

From Automotive News:

Ram Classic buyers, on average, pay the highest interest rates in the segment and roll more negative equity into their loans than buyers of any other full-size pickup, Edmunds said.

“I think having more options at different price points worked well for them, particularly because they have a flagship product to be the halo truck and then everything else slotted underneath,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights for Edmunds.

Ram doesn’t offer a midsize pickup, so the Classic effectively is filling that space, said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions. The Classic is a “premium alternative to the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma, appealing to younger buyers on size and price,” he said.

Keeping that in mind makes it harder to decide whether or not Ram is actually winning the pickup war, though it certainly doesn’t appear to be losing it. Maintaining the old full-size model didn’t require any development expenditures and seems to be working to usurp younger customers from rival nameplates. Still, we might as well count Silverado and Sierra as one vehicle if the Ram and Ram Classic get to add their sales scores.

The moves FCA’s truck division seems to be making with younger buyers should bode well for future sales. Statistics certainly back that up; we’ve amassed anecdotal data from readers, friends and family that’s anything but contradictory. While Ram may not be able to depend on the older pickup indefinitely, its current strategy had done wonders to broaden appeal. It has the new 1500 competing rather well against the latest and greatest full-sized pickups while the vintage model scoops up cash-strapped individuals who don’t want to settle for something smaller.

Turns out Americans still like a good bargain — and have a tendency to notice when one is being offered.

[Images: FCA]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Cprescott Cprescott on Mar 17, 2020

    Give it to FCA for figuring out how to build a competent pickup truck - something that GM has failed to do in the last twenty years and what Nissan and Toyoduh have never done in this segment. And the Honduh Ridgeline is merely a covered catbox carrier with four doors. Ford wins on repeat buyers - I hope that they are not doing what Honduh and Toyoduh have done with their cars and decided to let their reputation sell cars without doing any serious work on improving them.

  • Crtfour Crtfour on Mar 17, 2020

    This doesn't seem like a big surprise. I'm "young" (under 40) and think the Dodge (even the classic) is the best design of the 3. To me the Ford looks geriatric with the slab sides and unattractive rear end design. The GM's don't seem to look "young" or "old" but just bad. Kudos to GM for grasping the market of bad taste regardless of age.

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Mar 17, 2020

      The "market of bad taste" is still a market. Somebody had to grab it!

  • ToolGuy Personally I have no idea what anyone in this video is talking about, perhaps someone can explain it to me.
  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):
  • Groza George Stellantis live off the back of cheap V8 cars with old technology and suffers from lack of new product development. Now that regulations killed this market, they have to ditch the outdated overhead.They are not ready to face the tsunami of cheap Chinese EVs or ready to even go hybrid and will be left in the dust. I expect most of their US offerings to be made in Mexico in the future for good tariff protection and lower costs of labor instead of overpriced and inflexible union labor.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is delaying an oil change for my Highlander by a couple of weeks, as it prevented me from getting an appointment before a business trip out of town. Oh well, much worse things have happened.I also just got a dealership oil change for my BMW (thanks, loss-leader prepaid plans!) and this didn't seem to affect them at all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Gonna need more EV fuel.
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