Bee Numbers Game?
Early buyers of the “limited edition” Dodge Ram Rumble Bee are upset that production numbers seem to have exceeded 3700 units, a number they believed would be the limit when they purchased their trucks.
The Rumble Bee is a $2600 option on top of a Hemi-powered Ram SLT that includes graphics emulating the Super Bee muscle car from the ‘60s, a hood scoop and a sequentially numbered dash plaque. Owners following the controversy say they have seen 2004 models with dash plaques sporting numbers over 4800. Dodge then started numbering the 2005 dash plaques with “Second Swam.” Again, owners say they have seen these plaques with numbers over 5000. A quick Internet check of Dodge dealers across the country shows numerous Rumble Bees were still available for sale in mid-February 2005 (when this story was written), a full year after they went into production. The Rumble Bee promotion was still running on the official Dodge Web site at that time, as well.
Dodge won’t comment on the matter, except to say that the automaker doesn’t discuss production volumes. But references to the limited edition 3700 limit have been traced directly to the Dodge offices. At least one dealer used the 3700 limit in a newspaper advertisement. Some Rumble Bee owners say they saw the 3700 limit on the official Dodge Web site when they were shopping for their truck, but none so far have made a printout or record of the sighting available to PickupTruck.com (PUTC).
Rumble Bee owners also say they queried Dodge customer service representatives, and it appears conflicting answers were returned. One reply said that just over 3700 vehicles were made for 2004 model year while another admitted an initial plan of 3700 but that the company “reserves the right to produce additional vehicles as related to market demand.”
Adding even more confusion to the matter, a top Dodge executive said, “We didn’t,” when asked by a PUTC editor about running production over 3700. That executive also said Dodge “built exactly what we said we were going to build.” But when Dodge officials are asked now what that number is and when it was disclosed, the answer is that the company doesn’t comment on production volume. In fact, a Dodge wouldn’t even offer the company’s definition of “limited edition” vehicle when asked by PUTC.
Many Rumble Bee owners, especially those with 2004 models numbered under 3700, have voiced their opinions on RumbleBee.org, (www.rumblebee.org) a Web forum open to Rumble Bee owners and fans to show off their trucks and discuss issues. Most of the forum topics are dedicated to modifications, upkeep, classifieds, shows and other general subject matter. But there have been angry threads over the production number issue and even a call to involve lawyers, consumer protection groups and states’ attorneys general.
Robin Lancaster—a 31-year-old from North Carolina who has owned numerous high-profile Dodge products—was one of the first buyers of a Rumble Bee. He scored #163 and is so loyal to his new truck that he became a moderator on RumbleBee.org. He says he first became aware of the 3700 limit through dealer ads, the Internet and correspondence with DaimlerChrysler customer service. Lancaster says he already had a 2003 Quad Cab but was attracted to the Rumble Bee’s color, body styling and sporty attitude. He says the 3700 limit came up during dealer negotiations and that the dealer was “not eager to work on the price because it was such a limited edition.” Lancaster paid near sticker but did receive a Dodge cash rebate.