Chevrolet is saying the steel bed in its Silverado pick-up truck is a lot tougher than the aluminium one in Ford’s new F-150 – and it’s running a print and TV ad campaign in the US to prove it.
The ads have created a war of words, further intensifying the often testy battle between Ford, General Motors, and the Ram truck division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) over who makes the best, biggest or toughest truck.
The F-series, Silverado, and Ram are consistently the three best-selling vehicles in the US. In April, Ford sold twice as many F-series trucks as the best-selling car, the Honda Civic.
Chevrolet posted a video showing two front-end loaders simultaneously dropping around 400kg of concrete blocks on to the bed of each truck.
The impact punctures the Ford’s stamped aluminium bed, but only dents the steel one in the Chevrolet. Ford launched the aluminium-bodied F-150 last year.
Chevrolet truck marketing director Sandor Piszar told news outlets in the US that the focus of the ads was on showing that Chevrolet puts the customer first.
“Our engineering team found that we had a competitive advantage in the strength of our bed,” he said. “Really, we are compelled to get the word. It’s not an attack on Ford and it’s not an attack on aluminium.”
Ford was quick to respond. “When you’re the market leader for 39 years, competitors sometimes try to take shots at you with marketing stunts,” said Ford spokesman Mike Levine.
“The fact remains that F-150’s high-strength, military grade, aluminium alloy cargo box offers the best combination of strength, durability, corrosion resistance, safety and fuel efficiency ever offered in a pick-up.”
The latest Chevrolet ads follow one it launched last year. Called ‘Cages’, it gave customers a choice between taking refuge in a steel cage or an aluminium cage when a grizzly bear entered the room.
“The Cages execution actually showed what consumer perceptions were for steel versus aluminium,” Piszar said. “The vast majority of people instantly ran into the steel cage, rather than the aluminium cage.”
The third best-selling truck in the US, the Ram range, also comes with a steel bed, something visitors to Fieldays this week will pick up on when FCA launches two Ram models in New Zealand for the first time.
The Ram 2500 and 3500 (pictured at top) are shipped as left-hookers to Australia where they are converted to right-hand drive by American Special Vehicles (ASV), a joint venture between expat Kiwi Neville Crichton’s company Ateco Automotive and the Walkinshaw Automotive Group.
Both come with a three-year, 100,00km warranty from ASV and both are powered by a 6.7-litre Cummins turbo-diesel engine delivering 267kW and a whopping 1084Nm of torque.
A six-speed automatic gearbox sends drive through a BorgWarner transfer case to either two or four wheels with the use of electronic shift-on-the-fly. The 2500 has coil suspension front and rear; the 3500 has coils up front and a leaf spring set-up at the rear.
The highlight of the Ram offerings, says FCA, is their braked towing capacity, upwards of six tonnes for the 3500 and almost seven tonnes for the 2500.
The 2500 has a payload of 913kg (similar to Kiwi utes) but the 3500 can carry 1713kg. Four 100kg blokes in the 3500 means there’s still 1313kg available. Prices for both are expected to be revealed at Fieldays.