Ram pickup outsells Silverado for first time since 1999

The Ram was the second-best seller among full-sized pickups in March, behind the Ford F-series.

Photo credit: CHRYSLER
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DETROIT -- It’s no April Fool’s joke, though General Motors may wish it were.

The Ram pickup outsold the Chevrolet Silverado in March, the first monthly win by the Ram over Chevrolet’s full-sized pickup in nearly 15 years.

The Ram was the second-best seller among full-sized pickups, behind the Ford F-series.

Ram sold 42,532 pickups in March, up 26 percent -- its highest March total since 2007. Chevrolet sold 42,247 Silverados last month, up 7 percent.

Sales of the F-series were up 5 percent to 70,940.

The Ram, then sold under the Dodge brand, last beat the Chevrolet’s full-sized pickup in August 1999. .

GM spokesman Jim Cain dismissed the Ram outselling the Silverado, contending Ram was buying market share with incentives. Both Chevrolet and Ram had truck promotions in March.

“The 1980s called. They want their marketing strategy back,” Cain told Automotive News when asked about Ram outselling Silverado. “It’s really easy to deeply discount your truck, mine the subprime market and offer cheap lease deals to buy market share.”

A Ram brand spokesman declined to comment on GM’s view and said Ram will continue to focus on its products.

The redesigned Silverado, which was named 2014 North American Truck of the Year at the Detroit auto show in January, has been struggling to gain traction in the United States since its introduction last summer.

The Silverado’s March sales were further hampered after dealers were told late in the month to stop selling certain models pending a repair to correct a potential transmission fluid line leak that could result in a fire.

Barclay’s analyst Brian Johnson noted in late February that the Silverado and Sierra redesign for the 2014 model year marked the first time General Motors had lost market share after launching a redesigned pickup.

Analysts said Silverado’s redesign had been conservative and “evolutionary, not revolutionary.” Meanwhile, they credited Ram with offering innovations such as a coil spring suspension, light-duty diesel engine, eight-speed transmission and the Rambox storage system.

Silverado’s sales lead over the Ram has been dwindling steadily for several years.

In 1993, Chevrolet’s pickup outsold what was then its Dodge competitor by nearly 450,000 units as Chrysler prepared to launch its radically restyled, big-rig inspired 1994 Dodge Ram.

By 2013, Silverado’s sales gain over Ram had dwindled to 124,741.

You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at lvellequette@crain.com.


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