The Chevy Silverado Might Never Recover Enough To Beat Ram

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Truck YeahThe trucks are good!

Chevy had a good third-quarter for truck sales, with Silverado sales up 16 percent compared to the second quarter as 155,482 moved. But that wasn’t enough to get out of third-place in Detroit’s truck wars, as Ram bested them again, as they did in the second quarter. Chevy will have to get used to the view from third.

Ram sold 161,635 trucks in the third quarter to remain second, while the all-conquering Ford F-Series sold 214,176, a six-percent dip for them but more than enough to remain in first place, per the Detroit Free Press. GM as a company bested the Ford F-Series if you add in GMC Sierra sales (66,198), but let’s not kid ourselves.

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The Silverado was again an also-ran, and analysts expect that to continue. Via the Freep:

“Whatever the outcome in any one month or quarter, based on what incentives and promotions are offered, the long run trend is for Ram to permanently surpass Chevrolet into second place,” said Jon Gabrielsen, a market analyst and auto adviser.

GM, for its part, contends that they’re not concerned.

“Retail sales of the Chevrolet Silverado are exceptionally strong, and when combined with record third-quarter retail sales of the GMC Sierra, we have the industry’s leading truck franchise,” said spokesman Tom Henderson.

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But make no mistake about it: This hurts for Chevy. Don’t expect things to get any better in the fourth quarter either. Silverado sales could even be much worse, thanks in part to the ongoing strike, as unsold inventory starts to disappear.

“The real story for the auto industry will be told in the coming weeks as Chevy and GMC dealers (run) low on pickup trucks to sell, with the UAW strike against General Motors leading the company to idle the plant in Mexico that makes the Silverado and Sierra,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader. “Dwindling inventory comes at a time of year when pickup truck sales are strong, and at a time when GM is in launch mode with its full array of trucks. This will put the Chevrolet Silverado even further behind the popular Ram in sales.”

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The strike is costing GM hundreds of millions of dollars, but we won’t know the final tally until after its resolved, even if some of it will remain forever unknowable. It’s almost impossible, for example, to calculate how many Silverado sales were missed because someone walked into a Chevy dealership looking to buy a specific trim and options, but because of the work stoppage it wasn’t available, and so they turned around and bought a Ram or Ford instead.

GM is still hugely profitable and will remain so into the foreseeable future, so the fact that Chevy is third in The Truck Wars isn’t terribly meaningful in any big-picture sense. I’m sure there are have been many meetings about it at GM headquarters, though, some fists pounded on tables. Lots of upper-middle executive angst. Some poor child of one of them probably got yelled at for no discernible reason as a result. It wasn’t your fault, son, it was Silverado’s.

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Erik Shilling

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.