Sales of Large Pickups in the US rose by 6% in Q2 2016 to 561,915 vehicles, after showing a 5% increase in Q1. This is one of the most important segments for the Detroit-3, with these kinds of volumes and the huge profit margins they earn on this type of vehicle. It’s a cut-throat market and the vehicles are marketed with their toughness, towing and hauling capacities and masculinity. However, with fuel economy becoming ever more important in this segment as well, Ford switched to an all-aluminum body for its thirteenth generation F-150, launched last year. And in Q2, its main rival Chevrolet first took a stab at Ford, showing TV ads where a load of concrete blocks and the corner of a toolbox are dumped into the F-150’s bed, gashing it, while the same actions in the Silverado’s steel bed result in nothing more but dings and scratches. Unfortunately for GM, the ads didn’t work as desired, with the Ford gaining 16% and the Silverado losing 3% of its volume.
Sales of Large Pickups in the US rose by 5% in Q1 2016 to 508,392 vehicles, which seems like a lot but is in fact 18% lower then the quarterly sales record for the segment over the past ten years (622,244, in Q3 2006). With all models in the segment being relatively fresh, with the exception of the aging Toyota Tundra, one can reasonably expect growth to continue in the coming quarters, at least until gas prices rise and customers start switching to smaller pickups.
Sales of Large Pick-up trucks in the US were up 5.2% in 2015 to 2,187,703 units, and 35.6% of those sales were the best selling vehicle in the US for 35 years running: the Ford F-series. However, as the F-series suffered from slow summer sales due to the change-over to the new, aluminum-bodied generation, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra duo combined outsell their main rival for the first time since 2009. The two GM trucks are the only ones to gain share in the segment. Still, a 4% increase to over 780,000 Ford pick-up trucks is the highest volume for the nameplate since 2006, but a long way from the almost 940,000 sales in 2004.
The Large Pick-up segment grew by 8% in the third quarter of the year, and 5% in the first three quarters of 2015.
Sales of cars in September 2015 were up by a whopping 16% compared to September 2014, an incredible rise given that they only grew by 4% between the first half of 2014 and 2015. Since sales in the US are cyclical by calendar year it’s hard to imagine this growth is driven by any particular effort on behalf of the manufacturers to move more metal off the forecourts. Rather, it’s probably a result of continually improving economic conditions, low gas price and, possibly more than most, people wanting to take advantage of low lease rates before the Federal Reserve Board raises interest rates later this year.
The question on everyone’s mind must be “how much was VW hurt by Dieselgate”? The answer is that it does not seem to have been hurt badly at all, with sales actually growing by 1%. Sure, that’s much worse than the market on average, but it’s not like VW was gaining sales before the scandal hit anyway. The fact is it may take time for the sales figures to fully reflect the extent of the damage – October will give us a better look.