Look for the competition among truckmakers to become even more vicious as each fights to build its market share. According to Automotive News, full-size truck dealerships are getting aggressive with incentive money to make their trucks as attractive as possible to value shoppers. To the casual observer it can seem like the truckmaker that puts the most money on the hood wins, but strategy is very important here.
Ram, Ford and GM are trying not to fall into the same traps of the recent past when incentive wars cut deeply into corporate health and exposed two simple truths. First, propping up total sales numbers and strong market-share numbers with big incentives is not a sustainable model. Second, you need to have a well-stocked pipeline of various products to execute a healthy long-term plan. The new economic reality means the new truck buyer is more sensitive to the struggling economy and likely is more willing to trade off brand loyalty for a great deal on his or her next pickup purchase. And that means both truckmakers and truck dealerships may have to do things differently to win over a smarter, more savvy truck buyer.
All the truckmakers are positioning themselves to take advantage of the new reality, but some, like GM, may have to be more careful than others — especially with pricing. With big incentives on the hoods of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, and a pair of new, smaller trucks on the way, pricing issues will be even more complicated and important for GM's success than the others. We'll have to see what happens.