Chrysler's Ram 1500 pickup truck relying on fuel economy, price
By Bernie Woodall
(Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC is betting that better fuel economy and a moderate 1 percent increase in price from last year's models will help its line of 2013 Ram 1500 pickup trucks gain ground on industry leaders from Ford and Chevrolet.
The first redesign since 2009 for the biggest-selling vehicle in the Chrysler lineup has led to a pickup truck with more technology and less weight to go along with the usual pickup truck marketing features of power and towing ability, analysts who have driven the new Ram 1500 said.
The Ram 1500 goes on sale in the United States in October.
The starting price will be $23,585, including destination charges, Chrysler said on Friday. The highest-priced version in the Ram 1500 lineup will be a four-wheel-drive "Laramie Longhorn" crew cab at $48,415, including destination charges.
Chrysler, majority-owned by Italy's Fiat SpA FIA.MI, won't be able to topple the top-selling Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) F-150 or the No. 2 General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) Chevrolet Silverado in U.S. sales, but this improved Ram offering may narrow the gap, said analysts.
Edmunds.com director of vehicle testing, Dan Edmunds, said the Ram 1500, even an improved offering, faces an uphill battle against Ford and GM because pickup truck customers have fierce brand loyalty.
"There's definitely some technical benefits and there's some real benefits to the customer," Edmunds said. "They've got a good solid product here. The question is - does it overcome years of brand loyalty? That's hard to say."
Sales of the current 2012 versions of the Ram pickup trucks rose 23 percent this year through July in the United States, U.S. market, compared with a 12 percent rise for Ford F-Series pickup sales and a 3.5 percent gain for the Silverado pickups. Continued...