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Battle for Top Pickup: Chevy Silverado vs. Dodge Ram

Paul Ausick

U.S. automakers have a lot at stake in the battle for sales of full-size pickup trucks. Nearly 1.3 million pickups have been sold this year through the end of August, the fourth-largest segment in the U.S. new vehicle market. That is what makes the latest comparison between the Chevy Silverado 1500 from General Motors Co. (GM) and the Ram 1500 from Chrysler a big deal.

Consumer Reports has just completed such a comparison and declared that the two vehicles finished in a virtual dead-heat, separated by just three points. The Silverado had the top score and is the top-rated truck, followed by the Ram, with two pickups from Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) finishing third and fourth.

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In the sales race, though, Ford’s F-series remains nearly untouchable. At the end of August, according to Kelley Blue Book, the F-series had nabbed nearly 40% share of the full-size pickup market with sales of nearly 500,000 units. The Silverado had a 24.2% share and the Ram had 18.3% share. GM’s Sierra brand -- essentially identical with the Silverado -- claimed a 10% share, and the full-size Tundra from Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) claimed a 6.3% share.

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The GM combination of the Silverado and the Sierra have sold about 450,000 units so far in 2013, and more than 72% of those sales are chalked up to Silverado, the less-expensive of the two. If the Consumer Reports review results in a few more sales, the GM trucks could topple Ford’s long-standing leadership in the full-size pickup segment.

GM also is developing a poor-man’s electric car that will have a driving range of 200 miles and sell for around $30,000, putting up a challenge to high-flying Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) and its $70,000 Model S sedan. GM has to do better than the Chevy Volt, a major sales disappointment, to say the least.

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