The EPA has delayed approval for two new versions of the Ram 1500, and this could definitely put a wrinkle in the plans of the brand to attempt to boost sales and overtake Chevy’s Silverado.
Ram started the production of the 2019 version of the Ram 1500, which it calls the DT, but the EPA only certified two trims, not all trim. The approved models started appearing in dealerships earlier in the year, but the 3.6-litre V-6 and the 5.7-liter V-8 have not been approved. According to dealerships, customers are looking for these trucks, but the dealers don’t know when the approval might come.
Speaking of approval, it is still not clear why some 2019 Rams are not available to the public, specifically, those with a belt-start generators. The rumor mill is going strong, though, it is believed that Ram engineers are working to improve and fine-tune the way the belt-start generator operates.
Why is this happening? Well, one theory is that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Ram’s parent company, started selling the 2014 version of its Jeep Cherokee before it realized that the vehicle’s automatic transmission wasn’t working correctly. This gaff certainly didn’t help the reputation of the company.
Another possibility for the delay is that the EPA is being far more strict with automobile manufacturers after the emission scandal that occurred with Volkswagen in 2015. Both the EPA and FCA are stuck in litigation over a previous incident, where FCA used a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine in its Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500. This also resulted in a delay of the 2017 and 2018 versions of the EcoDiesel Ram 1500 truck.
Ram Falling Behind
It’s quite obvious that FCA wasn’t expecting this. After all, the company had a huge launch at the Detroit auto show earlier this year. Because of the slow rollout, it is also affecting the sales of Ram 1500s. Auto industry analysts are also weighing in, saying that this is a big problem for the automaker, since the V-6 version of the Ram 1500 is about 20 percent of the truck’s sales. It’s true that overall, Ram sales are up 4.3 percent when compared to 2017, however, there is a caveat, because YTD, sales are down a total of 8.4 percent. This isn’t great news for FCA.
The company isn’t giving up, though. Last year it announced a plan to knock the Chevy Silverado out of its 2nd best-selling full-size pickup slot in 2018. The automaker planned on doing this by offering a number of discounts and pushing production of the new Ram 1500. As you can see, however, this isn’t quite going as planned.
Ram 1500 sales aren’t great, but Ford and Chevy are doing well; Ford’s F series is up 5.7 percent this year, and Silverado is up to an 11 percent increase. Just a year ago, Chevy and Ram were neck and neck. It’s important to mention that all three automakers, Chevy, Ford, and FCA, don’t differentiate between their heavy duty and half-ton trucks, so it’s not possible to look at how many sales of the DS are counted in that number.
The one bright spot of this is that the Ram 1500 is still being produced, even if some trims are not on the market, and FCA is offering a number of incentives for buyers. For instance, in Texas, Ram if offering more than $17,000 in savings on some versions of the truck. As of the end of May, Ram buyers have saved an average of $6,578, which is 11 percent higher when compared to sales during the same time in 2017.
Can Ram overcome this mediocre news? It’s possible. Dealers across the country are still claiming that consumers are quite interested in the new Ram 1500, even though the fuel-efficient versions are not yet available on the market. This demand is getting so high that the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, which is where FCA is producing these trucks, is going into overtime through the beginning of September to make sure there is enough product to meet the needs of its consumers. Currently, Ford and Chevy are not having any sales issues, so it’s still unlikely that FCA can push into 2nd place.