Sales in the small pickup segment grew by 40% in the third quarter of 2016, as a sign the segment resurrecting from being considered dead just a few years ago when it was abandoned by the Detroit 3. With one of them (GM) having returned two years ago and one of the other two planning to return within the next few years (Ford), the segment is looking more than healthy again. Year-to-date, the segment is up 24%, which means more than half of the growth in the first nine months of the year can be attributed to the third quarter. Each of the segment’s five models improves on last year’s Q3 and year-to-date volume, and all but one do so with double digits or better. That compares to a loss of 2% for the full-sized pickup truck segment in Q3.
Highlights for January – September 2016:
Sales of the segment leading Toyota Tacoma have been constrained by capacity, and therefore it’s the slowest growing model of the segment, both in the third quarter and all three quarters so far this year. But that may change soon as Toyota has increased capacity in its second Tacoma plant, in Mexico. That should help the brand satisfy demand and defend the model’s top spot of the segment as competition will only intensify.
The General Motors twins Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon both improve by a third in Q3, but even combined sales figures of the two models can’t touch the Tacoma’s numbers.
Amazingly, the Nissan Frontier almost doubles its Q3 sales, pulling up its YTD growth to 47%, the fastest growth of all of the four existing models. Remember, this is the oldest model of the segment by a country mile, as it’s been on the market largely unchanged since 2004, and the latest generation Tacoma just celebrated its first anniversary in September, the Colorado and Canyon duo were launched in 2014 and the second generation Honda Ridgeline is just a few months old. Although the new generation Frontier is already sold in South America, Europe and Asia (as the NP300 Navara), but Nissan hasn’t even put a timeline on the US launch of the new model. That might not seem very urgent considering the current sales volume, but one could also argue that Nissan is missing some opportunities for even better growth. I think the brand first want to focus on a successful launch of the 2nd generation Titan full-sized pickup.
The Honda Ridgeline is up to an average of 3.300 sales a month in the first full quarter of its second generation, which means it outsold the Canyon in the third quarter. Obviously, it’s too late for the model to ditch last place by the end of the year, but for 2017 it should be able to kick the GMC down to fifth place.
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