Sales in the Large Pickup segment grew by 6% in the third quarter of 2017, slightly faster than in the second quarter and pretty much the same as in the first, giving this large segment impressive consistency. With the new RAM Pickup and Chevrolet Silverado on the horizon, things may kick up the gear for the segment in 2018, as it continues to claw back ground it lost in recent years to the Small PIckup and Commercial Vans segments.
Sales in the Large Pickup segment grew by 4.3% in the second quarter of 2017, a slight slowdown relative to the the first quarter, but still enough to register a YTD sales rate of 4.9% – much better than the falling market total. In fact, there is a trend emerging in 2017, wherein pickups seem to be regaining what little ground they lost to commercial vans in recent years (at least those pickups that are used for commercial purposes) – both pickup segments grew so far this year, while the commercial vans segment lost volume. This steady growth trend is likely to continue in 2017, but the arrival of the new RAM Pickup towards the end of the year may result in a quickening of the growth rate in 2018, given how popular the model has been in recent years.
Sales in the Large Pickup segment grew by 5.7% in the first quarter of 2017, which again beats the overall market, just like it did in all of 2016. And thanks to the crisis in the midsized sedan segment, US consumers (and businesses) bought more full-sized pickup trucks in Q1 2017 than they bought midsized sedans, until not long ago the bread-and-butter segment of the US car market. That means this segment, with only 6 players, it the second largest segment in the market. In fact, just the four top selling large pickups sold over half-a-million units in the first quarter, more than the entire 17-vehicle midsized car segment. Last year, the segment recovered to 2006 levels after gaining volume for 7 straight years and it look like low gas prices are going to give it an 8th year of growth, even though the only product news in the segment is the new-for-2016 Nissan Titan.
Sales in the Large Pickup segment grew by 2.5 percent in 2016, a slightly faster rate than the market overall, but considerably slower than the Small Pickup segment. That is to be expected – with total sales of 2,242,282 the segment is the third largest, following the Compact SUV and Mid-sized segments, and as such it would be unreasonable to expect double-digit rates of growth. Still, with slowly rising fuel prices pushing customers towards smaller pickups and nothing in the way of new metal arriving anytime soon (other than the continued rollout of new versions of the new-for-2016 Nissan Titan), it’s entirely possible the segment may not gain many sales at all in 2017, or even losing sales for the first time since 2010.
Sales of full-sized pickup trucks were down by 2% in Q3 of 2016, after an increase of 5% in the first half of the year. For the first nine months, the segment is up 3% to 1,640,674 sales. With relatively high brand loyalty in this segment, there are no big shifts in the performances of individual models, with only two out of the six models making double digit moves in Q3 and only one in the first three quarters of the year. With both the large SUV segment and the small pickup segment surging in Q3, the contrasting loss of the full-sized pickups may have another reason than gas prices. It could also indicate a lower confidence in the US economy and especially the housing market by construction companies, since sales of work trucks are historically linked to real estate prices in the United States.
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.
When Fiat Chrysler Automobiles revealed this week that they were contemplating building a full-sized SUV on the platform of the next RAM pickup truck to compete with the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and Ford Expedition, I noticed a lot of “finally, what took them so long?” reactions, but also online replies that went along the lines of “they keep promising new vehicles and then delaying them”. Those commenters are probably right on both counts, but that’s not what this article is about.
My opinion on this vehicle is two-sided: on one hand I believe it fills a huge (no pun intended) hole in FCA’s North American line-up, one that has high profit margins for a limited budget, but on the other hand I don’t think this is the way of the future and they might have better ways to spend their limited R&D resources. And thirdly I’m not sure launching it under the RAM truck brand would be the best option.
Let’s start with the pros
A full-sized SUV based on the body-on-frame platform of their full-sized pick-up truck is not that expensive to develop than an all-new model on an all-new platform and it would spread the development costs of the pick-up truck platform over a greater number of potential sales. Besides that, these kinds of SUV’s typically sell for more than $ 50,000 and have profit margins north of $ 10,000 per vehicle. [Read more…]