There has been a specific order in the world of big trucks for many, many years. Ford is always the #1 selling truck - in fact the top selling vehicle in America. Chevrolet follows, and Ram (previously Dodge) comes in 3rd. This is the natural order. Toyota and Nissan have joined the fight but, while the Taco may reign supreme in the small truck segment, little ground has been made in the full-size market.
Chevrolet will often point out that they could top Ford if they didn’t split their market share with GMC. But that is a decision GM has made, so the numbers are what they are. Ford is king. Chevy is second. Ram is third. Or is it? 2019 is different. Could it be that Ram will outsell Chevy this year? As the 3rd quarter draws to a close, Ram maintains a lead it has held all year. But why? I propose it comes down to 2 things: where to be bold, and where to be conservative.
Chevrolet, and GMC, chose to go bold in the exterior styling of their trucks but to be conservative - sticking with the tried and true - with their interiors. The Chevy truck has a very aggressive, in-your-face styling that reigns down fear on every driver that sees it from their rear-view mirror. The styling is tough and mean - an image Chevy wanted to portray in a full size truck - but it is quite different. In effect, it has left many saying it is the ugliest Chevy truck ever made and the most offensive truck on sale today. Now, looks are subjective. I happen to like the look of the truck, but I understand that creating a design that alienates a large segment of potential buyers is not good for business. It would be like casting a leading man for a love story where George Clooney would be the natural order but, in an effort to change that order, you cast Sylvester Stallone.
Assuming the potential buyer does look beyond the exterior and takes a gander inside the cabin, they will be greeted with a very conservative look and feel; so conservative in fact that current truck owners may begin to question why they should trade up if the view from the driver’s seat is virtually unchanged. It is a stark contrast from the outside. Granted there are buyers that want familiarity and sameness. My wife always trades one iPhone for another, because she knows it will work the same. But, do people really want major change and lack of change at the same time? Do they want bold, new, spicy styling on the outside and no change on the inside? I think most don’t - and that is why sales are down.
Take the Ram by contrast. Their exterior design is new. It is fresh. It is also evolutionary rather than revolutionary. It is instantly recognizable as a Ram truck. Yet it is cleaner, crisper, more refined. It inspires confidence without being outlandish. It is subtle refinement. Some might argue it is too subtle and not bold enough. For them, there is a Chevrolet. Ram followed Ford by continuing to evolve a trusted design. But, step inside, and the Ram has done something different. The overall design of the cockpit is still large, somewhat industrial, in a way that is immediately recognizable as a truck, a worker, a friend. However, Ram looked beyond trucks for inspiration. They looked at the overall automotive industry and asked what people are buying. The answer is luxury, technology, comfort. While Ram remained conservative on the outside, they went upscale inside. The truck is short on the plastics found in the Chevy, as they use nicer materials, more leather, larger screens not dissimilar to those in Volvo’s and Tesla’s with a better infotainment system, and an overall nicer place to be.
In the end, I contend that people are taking notice of both trucks. They see the Chevy screaming at them while still offering a classic Chevrolet interior and they see a Ram that is prepared for both work in the morning and the opera at night - with an interior that your date will gladly welcome. Chevrolet is bold on the outside and conservative within. Ram is conservative outside and high-tech luxury within. Ram is winning (2nd place in) the truck wars because they built a better truck - perhaps not on spec sheets but by building a truck that better aligns with the discerning tastes of today’s shopper.
Chevrolet stated earlier in the year that they did not have enough capacity to build the trucks it needed. And then the UAW went on strike. So, at least when Chevy loses to Ram, they will have an excuse.