Ram runs tight diesel race

Industry

DETROIT — The 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel had a high bar to reach to contend with the fuel economy ratings of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500’s diesel model.

Ram’s pickup has nearly matched the Chevy, falling just short in some aspects, but the small gaps likely aren’t enough to swing the sales race in the diesel Silverado’s favor, an analyst said.

Ram said its 4×2 half-ton EcoDiesel will be rated at 32 mpg in highway driving, slightly behind the Silverado’s 33 mpg, and 22 mpg city, compared with 23 for the Silverado. The 4×4 Ram EcoDiesel will get 29 mpg highway — matching the Silverado for the segment lead — and 21 mpg city vs. 23 mpg for the Silverado.

Ram says the 29 mpg highway on its 4×4 layout is key because those models represent more than 80 percent of the U.S. full-size pickup mix. Ram’s light-duty diesel pickup is expected to arrive in the fourth quarter.

With the Ram EcoDiesel and Silverado diesel sitting so closely in fuel economy, consumers likely will use other attributes to make their final picks, IHS Markit principal auto analyst Stephanie Brinley said.”Do you like the style of one better? Does the interior feel better to you than the other? Is the price where you want it to be? They’re close enough to be really competitive with one another, and consumers will factor that into their process,” Brinley said. “But I don’t think [fuel efficiency will] be the final decision-maker.”

The Silverado, equipped with the Duramax 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine, has the horsepower edge on the 1500 EcoDiesel, 277 to 260. But Ram’s Italian-made 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel tops the diesel Ford F-150 and Silverado in torque and boasts segment-leading towing capacity of 12,560 pounds.

Ram is offering diesel as an option across all trim levels. The older EcoDiesel is still on the menu for the Ram 1500 Classic, the previous-generation truck that FCA US continues to push to value shoppers.

Ram has overtaken the Silverado to become the No. 2 seller in the large pickup segment. Ram pickup sales were at 461,115 through September, compared with 409,316 for the Silverado.

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