Ram’s introduction of a diesel half-ton, the first in decades, has been attracting a LOT of attention. How much? So much that they have exhausted their initial allocation in just THREE days. In short, it is the hottest pickup to hit the market in years.
Ram says that their initial allocation of 8,000 EcoDiesel trucks was filled between the afternoon of Feb. 7 and the morning of Feb. 10. This initial allocation of orders represents more than 50 percent of their product mix and the special order rate is twice the corporate average (an all-time high). Out of these 8,000 trucks, 400 have already been sold to customers.
The new truck’s early demand, according to Ram, is because of its best-in-class 28 MPG and 9,200 lbs of towing capacity. It also isn’t so bad that it has a diesel engine that could be seen as a “game changer” in the full-size truck market.
“The Ram 1500 is the only half-ton truck available with a diesel, so we see this as incremental business by having the only truck that can offer best-in-class fuel economy of 28 MPG combined with 9,200 lbs. of towing capacity,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO — Ram Truck Brand, Chrysler Group LLC, said in a press release. “It’s every truck manufacturer’s dream to have this kind of initial order demand for a product. Fuel economy is the No. 1 request of half-ton buyers and the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel delivers without compromising capability.”
For decades, truck makers have told consumers that they don’t really want a diesel. They have put off requests for diesels as not well thought out. Their reasoning:
- It is too expensive
- The return on investment is too long
- You won’t buy it if we offered it
And for decades, consumers have asked and asked again for truck makers to offer a diesel in a half-ton. Consumers see diesels as the answer to better fuel economy, better towing and a more reliable engine.
Critics have argued that the automakers are right. Rising diesel fuel prices and a $4k upcharge for the new EcoDiesel over the base model, point to a long return on investment. Many articles have been written as to how many miles/years it will take to break in. Most of the analysis points to 3-4 years at 12,000 miles a year. Yet, that isn’t exactly the whole picture.
Truck owners are different buyers than others. The fact is that any truck owners regularly put more than 12,000 miles/year on their trucks (especially in Texas – the largest full-size truck market in the World). Many don’t care about the upcharge; instead they want the better towing and are willing to pay for it. Also, many believe that diesel engines are simply more reliable (several recent studies dispute this). Lastly, they point to a higher resale value for diesel pickups over gasoline as a reason to buy one.
The excitement for this truck has certainly been building. Ram’s Nick Cappa recently told me in fact that the interest in the truck has been higher than any other product he has worked on. He also mentioned that Ram has increased their initial order for the diesel engine to meet the unprecedented demand.
The demand was so high that Ram pushed the production timeframe up and will be delivering the truck in March, 2014 (normally, new products arrive in the fall).
Ram says that while the initial allocation is filled, special orders from customers will take precedence. It expects another allocation round in early March.
While the excitement is surely fueling this initial allocation, it remains to be seen how long this truck keeps up the momentum. One thing is for sure, if the demand keeps up, it won’t be long until every truck maker offers a diesel, half-ton truck.
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