Most truck enthusiasts knew Ram’s new EcoDiesel was a big deal. However, who knew Ram would sell their ENTIRE initial allocation in just THREE days! The full-size truck, with a class-leading 28 MPG, is red hot and it is anybody’s guess if it will maintain this initial surge.Pre-orders for the Ram EcoDiesel have sold out. Is this a precursor to the future or just pent-up demand?
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 is being associated with its best-in-class 28 MPG, 9,200 lbs of towing capacity and an impressive low-end torque – thanks to partly the way diesel fuel burns. It is being billed 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. 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 hammered truck makers to offer a diesel in a half-ton. They see diesels as the answer to better fuel economy, better towing and a more reliable engine.
Critics have argued that the automakers are right. The new Ram EcoDiesel seems to have a steep price tag compared with base trucks. In fact, Car and Driver drove a “well-equipped (estimated price: $39,940) Ram 1500 rear-wheel-drive crew cab with mid-level Lone Star trim.” Why so much? The base upcharge of the new EcoDiesel is $4k over the base V-6. Doing the math, many calculations put the break even timeframe at 3-4 years with base 12,000 miles of driving, higher maintenance costs and the additional charges to change out the DEF fluid. It is worth noting, though, that diesels do have a better resale value for now (more supply could decrease demand).
However, truck owners are different buyers. They often put on 2-3k miles a month (especially in Texas – the largest full-size truck market in the World). Many don’t care about the upcharge and they simply want the diesel engine. Others simply want to prove the automakers wrong (seriously, they do!).
Now the game of who’s right seems to be on with consumer interest skyrocketing and production running at full blast. 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.
The question remains, though, is this just an initial surge by dealers who are guessing about the appeal or is this really a sign of things to come?