Embarrassed And Beaten Chevy Slips To Third Behind Ram In 2019

We knew that if the earlier quarter production figures held up for Q4 that Ram would beat Chevy for second place in pickup truck sales, and it has. For the first time ever Chevy has slipped to third behind Ram. No one could have seen this coming. Here’s our best shot at what caused this sea-change to occur.

The UAW strike sure didn’t help GM produce more trucks

GM Truck Assembly Plant Flint, Michigan-Getty
GM Truck Assembly Plant Flint, Michigan | JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images

Some of this was not GM’s fault. The UAW strike that lasted for over a month had a severe effect on truck supplies. True, GM had cranked up production before the strike in anticipation of it occurring. But, by the end, some dealers were short the more popular models and pickup options. This was especially bad for GM because 2019 was the first year for the all-new Silverado and GMC Sierra.

What can we say but many are turned off by the front end

A 2020 Chevy Silverado on display
A brand new Chevy Silverado | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

This is more subjective, but nonetheless the reaction seems to be overwhelming. What are we speaking of? That front end, and to a lesser extent the rear end, too. Look, it just comes off as being a giant black hole surrounded by sheet metal. It’s distinctive in its ugliness. In some circles that is endearing. But many believe it has negatively affected sales. When the Ram 2500 was released later in the year it had not improved with the variation it wore. 

GM will double down on things like this so don’t expect much of a change in the near future. It likes to build what it wants to build, not necessarily what you want. If aggressive sales and pricing don’t nudge the needle much in 2020 expect a revised front end for 2021 or as an early revised 2022 model. GM can be stubborn, but it’s not stupid.

The new Ram 1500 comes with the nicest interior in the industry

2020 Ram 2500HD Limited interior
2020 Ram 2500HD Limited interior | Ram

One of the features of the new Ram 1500 that reviewers and customers are crowing about is the premium interior. It looks and feels so much more like an expensive car for it being a pickup truck. Countering that is the disappointment of the new Silverado interior. All of the manufacturers have taken to cheap route to interiors from time to time. Sometimes it’s to help pay off the development and tooling of a new model. The Silverado was all-new for 2019. 

But, if that’s true then how did Ram pull it off? It beat both Ford and GM at their own games. The exterior is also nicely refined from the previous generation of Ram pickup. Each of the manufacturers has been able to carve a distinctive look for each one’s pickups. The road Ram has gone down resonates with truck drivers more than GM’s. 

Ram continued making the previous generation pickup next to the new one

2019 Ram Power Wagon Crew Cab
2019 Ram Power Wagon Crew Cab | Ram

One surprising development Ram pulled off when it released the all-new 1500 was that it didn’t stop manufacturing the previous truck. It marketed it next to the new pickup as the Classic 1500. Since Ram has a gap not offering a midsize pickup the Classic became its defacto midsize-if not in size than in price.

The tooling for the Classic ram must have been paid off a few years ago. So, everyone that gets purchased is like printing money. The other thing helping besides Ram’s bottom line is by not separating the two Ram is combining the numbers of both trucks. It should be noted that if Chevy and GMC combined numbers they would be in first place in pickup sales.

During the last portion of the year, Ram started putting a lot of money on hoods with its “employee pricing” available on most trucks. Whether this had a good or bad effect we aren’t privy to. But it probably helped at least to some extent. 

Price wars and sales competition is always good for the consumer. If this drags out to 2020, and we think it will, then you might want to start thinking about buying a new truck before 2020 is over.