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Do the various awards automotive journalists bestow on cars and trucks really matter? Not always and in the case of the Ram 1500, they haven’t helped sales one bit. What is going on?

2013 RAM 1500 Most Awarded Pickup Poor Sales Growth

Then Ram CEO Fred Diaz was sure proud to show off the North American Truck of the Year Award, yet Ram hasn't been rewarded with a big sales bump.

The 2013 Ram 1500 really is a well-built, fuel efficient pickup with lots of new features people love. Journalists know this first hand from spending days driving it and seeing all the other competition on the market. In fact, they liked it so much, they named it the 2013 North American Truck of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show. Ram was elated to say the least when they won the award. Many Ram executives were in such a celebratory mood after the announcement, it certainly gave the impression it was going to be a big year. In fact, the quote from then Ram CEO Fred Diaz was:

“It feels like a three-point buzzer beater,” said Fred Diaz, Ram CEO according to USA Today. He said the Ram came out a winner because of (Chrysler and Fiat CEO) Sergio Marchionne “telling us ‘Boys, it’s time to go big or go home.’ “

The Ram truck has won several “media” awards for the past few years including:

  • 2013 North American Truck of the Year
  • 2013 Rocky Mountain Truck of the Year 
  • Motor Trend – 2013 TRUCK OF THE YEAR®
  • Truck of Texas™ 2013
  • Ruedas ESPN – Truck of the Year
  • 2012 MODEL YEAR Consumers Digest Best Buy
  • 2011 & 2012 Automobile Magazine All-Star
2013 RAM 1500 Most Awarded Pickup with Poor Sales Growth

This huge sign draped over Chrysler/Fiat's headquarters in Michigan shows how much these awards mean to manufactures. Customers? Not so much apparently.

When you look over that list you see the award for the entire country and Texas – the largest full-size truck market in the world. These awards and accolades leads one to believe then that the Ram truck is selling like hotcakes. Not so fast though. Since 2011, Ram trucks have increased in sales, but those increases have been largely matched by Ford and Chevy. The sales data doesn’t lie:

2013 RAM 1500 Most Awarded Pickup - Flat Sales

These numbers are bad for Ram and especially Chrysler/Fiat. Chrysler needs Ram to sell a lot of its profitable full-size pickups to offset the small profit margins in passenger cars. Keeping pace with its two competitors doesn’t help them at all. In fact, you could argue that until Ram really sells a lot of pickups, they are really just another recession away from another bankruptcy.

What Gives?

The truth is that Ram has really worked hard on this new 1500 pickup and has included many new fuel saving features and industry firsts. Yet, customers still remember the poor Ram/Dodge trucks from yesteryear. The reality for consumers is that once they associate a brand with poor quality, it is incredibly difficult for the brand to get beyond that perception. This difficulty has been voiced lately by Chrysler Quality Chief Doug Betts to Auto News.

“We still benchmark Toyota,” says Doug Betts, Chrysler’s senior vice president of quality. “Toyota’s very good at reliability. I believe that we have gotten close enough on reliability to Toyota that it shouldn’t be a reason for somebody not to buy our cars.”

Now that is a pretty big statement to say that a Chrysler product is comparable in quality to Toyota. Yet, in the end, will consumers take another gamble and try a new Ram pickup even though automotive journalists say it is a good buy? The answer so far has been no thanks.


About the author: Tim Esterdahl


Tim is a married father of three living in Western Nebraska. He is the editor and contributor to several automotive sites and is becoming an influential automotive journalist. He spends a lot of time reading, writing and talking cars/trucks with fans, insiders and manufacture reps. When he isn't talking about cars, he is usually out playing golf - a never ending obsession to see how far the little white ball will fly.


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