DETROIT -- The side-view mirror of a Chevrolet Silverado contains this warning: "Objects may be closer than they appear."
The warning could be talking about the Ram.
The Silverado, the longtime No. 2 in pickup sales, still has a substantial lead on No. 3 Ram. But the Ram is gaining.
In the last seven months, after the redesigned Silverado arrived last summer, Ram sales were at 208,414, while the Silverado was at 261,258 -- still a sizable gap of 52,844 units.
But consider: In the same period a year earlier, the gap between the two was 97,199 units.
In the U.S. pickup market, dominated by loyal shoppers who rarely switch brands, it would be shocking if the Ram passed the Silverado. But the fact that the Ram is gaining ground is noteworthy.
"Never before has [General Motors] lost share after launching a new pickup truck platform," Barclay's analyst Brian Johnson noted last month.
From Jan. 1, 2013, through Feb. 26, the Silverado and GMC Sierra have lost 3.29 percentage points of market share in the large pickup market. In that time Ford has picked up 1.86 percentage points and Ram 1.8 percentage points of market share, Johnson wrote in late February. Johnson's market share calculation includes only the Detroit 3.
And the Ram seems to have momentum. In February, Ram started offering a diesel in the light-duty pickup, and dealer orders for the diesel have been strong.
It's the only diesel available in U.S. light-duty pickups and is rated at 28 mpg on the highway. The highest-rated Silverado light-duty is rated at 24 mpg on the highway.
GM spokesman Jim Cain said sales of well equipped high-end Silverados are fine. But there is some potential weakness in lower-end trims and V-6 models, he said.
That's why Chevrolet launched what he called an "unprecedented promotional assault," declaring a Truck Month promotion in March and increasing incentives and marketing.
The Silverado, with more than $7,500 in discounts and incentives, depending on the model, will be featured on advertising during the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Ram also is conducting a Truck Month campaign in March for its pickup.
"Our immediate challenge is to build momentum at the lower end of the market while protecting the gains we've made everywhere else," Cain told Automotive News. "One thing's for sure, we're not going to follow the lead of brands that are buying market share. That story never has a happy ending."