Interview: Brad Pinter, Dodge Ram Brand Manager
Keeping Dodge on the minds of pickup truck shoppers is the job of Brad Pinter. He’s the Dodge Ram brand manager and oversees the truck’s marketing efforts. PickupTruck.com editor Mike Magda sat down with Pinter at the Dodge Mega Cab introduction to talk trucks.
PickupTruck.com: The 1500 and 2500 Mega Cabs are on same chassis with minor differences in towing and other capacities. Can you explain that strategy?
Brad Pinter: The 1500 buyers expect a different ride and handling feel than the 2500. What we didn’t want to do was lose sight of the 1500. The 1500 buyer is totally different than the heavy-duty buyer. The light duty crew cab buyer represents 60 percent of all crew cab sales. The 1500 buyer is expecting maximum capability. So if give them the 2500 frame, allows them to tow and pull more than the competitors. They appreciate that.
PUTC: You mentioned 60 percent of crew cab buyers are 1500 customers; they’re still in the 6400, 6800 GVW range. You’re adding 2000 pounds to that rating. Aren’t these buyers a little more number conscious than just looking at the 1500 designation?
Pinter: You hit the nail on the head. What does 1500 really represent? It’s more of a classification in the customer’s mind that there’s a price point I can handle, but it’s also less towing and payload. That customer is looking for a little different ride and handling but in the crew cab sector they’re looking for more towing capability. So what we said was: If we go with 2500 frame we don’t want to forget the 1500 buyer because that’s a larger segment.
PUTC: You don’t offer a low-level trim on the Mega Cab, so are you not considering the fleet market yet. So what’s your strategy in not having a vinyl-seat, basic work truck edition?
Pinter: That’s true, we do not have that on the horizon right now. We’re investigating it and it’s something we’re always looking at. We’re trying to hit the heart of the market right now.
PUTC: You mentioned a 5-to-40 percent penetration growth in the crew cab market. Did you not include Quad Cab even though it has outside door handles and the doors open normally?
Pinter: We backed up the Quad Cab, actually. We looked at regular cab, extended cab, Quad Cab and crew cab. We backed up Quad Cab specifically to your point that we didn’t want it to interfere with crew cab sales analysis for extended cab analysis. So we looked at specific crew cab sales. They’ve grown from a 5 percent mix to 40 percent. It’s interesting at regular and extended markets. The regular has fallen by 5 percent. It’s leveled out and there will always be that market. What’s interesting is that the extended market has continued to nosedive: gone from 50 percent back in ’99 down to 27 percent.
PUTC: Can you give an idea of what split you expect from your three models?
Pinter: I can’t go into future sales forecast but I can tell you that since we now have a full lineup we expect to be able to go head-on with competition. Before we were always inbetween. We were an extended cab with best in class room and we were a low priced crew cab in a lot of peoples mind.
PUTC: Do you expect 40 percent Mega Cab sales?
Pinter: Aaah, that’s a good point. I expect strong sales. If it’s any indication, we opened up dealer orders a week ago and it’s been phenomenal.
PUTC: Another dodge truck official last night was lamenting that pickup owners want more SUV features and SUV owners want more car features. Is the traditional work truck owner getting lost in this movement.
Pinter: Not at all. He’ll always be there, that constant buyer, the guy who needs a pickup truck on a day-to-day, tow everything, haul everything attitude. What were finding out is that more and more families are coming in. As the pickup interiors evolve and become more comfortable, more families use them for day to day purposes.
PUTC: With respect, I think you’ve just made my point. You’ve said more families are coming when I was asking about work truck getting lost.
Pinter: He’s not getting lost, he’ll always be there. The work guy is still there with the ST package that he needs. There’ll always be a constant sales rate for that group. What’s increasing is the family side. So the work guys aren’t getting lost.
PUTC: Talk about the Contractor Special. At the LA auto show three years ago, Chrysler Group CEO Dieter Zetsche said “We will produce the Contractor’s Special hybrid and we will produce future products with hybrids beyond this Contractors Special.”
Pinter: That was a situation where you need to work with your suppliers to make sure you can afford the vehicle and price the vehicle at an affordable price. We did do a hybrid on the Ram up to 10 to 20 units. They were produced as a special allotment and given as a test market to special fleet accounts.
PUTC: But they never made into production.
Pinter: It never made it into retail production but we will monitor that market and if there is an opportunity then definitely we will go forward.