By on April 7, 2011

Having inadvertently caused confusion over GM and Ford’s full-sized pickup rivalry, and in the spirit of the reinvigorated cross-town battles between Ford and GM, I thought I’d share the longer view on the full-size pickup wars since 1995. Now, this graph is far from perfect, as GM’s Chevy Avalanche, Escalade EXT and HUMMER trucks (not to mention the Japanese also-rans) were a bridge too far for our underpowered graphing software (although, with Avalanche added, the GM total came within about 8k units of F-Series last year). Meanwhile, a real drilldown of full-sized truck data would include SUV derivatives as well as either historical data for GM’s “medium duty” trucks or a breakdown of F-Series by size. We could make excuses for why those factors weren’t included on this chart, but the omission will inevitably be blamed on bias, so why bother?

Either way, it’s easy to see why tensions are high between Ford and GM truck fans… having traded places several times over the last 15 years, the pickup wars are as tight as they could be.

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48 Comments on “Chart Of The Day: Full-Size Truck Wars, 1995-2010...”


  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    It’s nice to see a graph with combined Sierra and Silverado sales for a change.
     
    It does look like sales for the segment has downsizes by about 50% from 2005.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    I’ll never understand the need to market GM trucks as both Chevrolets and GMCs.  Sure, it doesn’t cost a whole lot to offer an alternate front end and market as a different brand.  But still, it costs more, and the separate marketing costs aren’t exactly a drop in the bucket.  And does anybody actually believe GMC is more “premium?”  GMC exists to placate dealers; I honestly don’t think customers are that stupid.
     
    if you called all the fullsize trucks “Chevrolet,” you’d sell just as many, and you’d beat out Ford in sales on a semi-regular basis.  And “Bestselling Truck in America” would probably help you rack up a few thousand more units a year, too.

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      The good thing about still having GMC is it gives the Buick/(formerly Pontiac)/GMC dealers more of a full lineup, and delays GM needing to push its dealers to consolidate and pull all the brands under one roof like Chrysler did.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Building cars to placate dealers (or fleet buyers, etc) is what got GM in trouble in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      getacargetacheck

      “And “Bestselling Truck in America” would probably help you rack up a few thousand more units a year, too.”  +1

      tiredoldmechanic is also right.  GMC is a holdover from the Buick/Pontiac and Olds/Chevy days.  Time to ditch it.  Put Buick and Cadillac dealers together instead.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      I worked with a guy who insisted that GMC were built way tougher, and he would never settle for a mere Chevy.  He had a Yukon, as I recall.
       
      He wasnt the sharpest tool in the shed in matters of work either.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Chevy v GMC is the same as the Ford v Mercury, or now Ford v Lincoln.

      GMC is trimmed slightly higher with slightly different features & options to create some differences to the customer.

      Yes, it’s mostly style, but there are some differences.

      Hopefully, GM makes GMC more different going forward, like they did with Buick v Chevy.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @FromaBuick6- GM makes $2,000-$3,000 more on a GMC, making the Brand very profitable despite the incremental costs of creating and marketing the separate brand.

      This simple concept is behind Toyot/Lexus, Nissan/Infiniti, Honda/Acura etc.
      You may personally not want to spend a more for a GMC, but GMC Sierra still makes the top 10 best selling Trucks list as opposed to Toyota’s and Nissan’s full size trucks, despite their best efforts.

      If GMC were not very profitable, the Auto Task Force would have forced GM to dump the brand as they did with the 4 others.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Where is the Tundra?

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      The one that amazes me is the Nissan Titanic @ 2000/month.
      They must run that line in Miss about 4 days a month on one shift.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Actually the more I look at this chart I don’t get the response that the chart can’t handle the Japanese also rans. You included the Ram, which the Tundra outsold in 2008 and 2009 – but you can’t include it on the chart???
       
      Looks more like don’t want to include it on the chart to show how weak the sales really are.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      You included the Ram, which the Tundra outsold in 2008 and 2009 – but you can’t include it on the chart???

      I’m not sure where you are getting your figures from, but from checking manufacturer-released sales figure archives, the Ram outsold the Tundra in 2008 and 2009 by about 100k units. The Tundra didn’t even break 80K in 2009.

      Looking at Tundra’s historical sales figures (peaked at 196K in 2007), its line would be a bit below the GMC Sierra.

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        Well – you’re correct across the page – I need to sleep at a Holiday Inn Express.

        In 2007 Toyota launched the redesigned Tundra and yes, drove about 197K in sales. The Dodge Ram did about 350K looking at the TTAC chart above. I mixed up the 2008 “model” year with the 2008 “calendar” year in my brain – so I apologize.

        However, the sales volume of the Tundra in 2007 was close to GMC Sierra on the chart (-50Kish???) and was over 100K since the Tundra was birthed in 2004 (source Wikipedia). It wasn’t until after the first year of the redesign and the financial meltdown that the Tundra slumped.

        I still say the volume is adequate to be on their chart – but it doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

        I think the Tundra decline is not because of the product, or Toyota. What hurt the Tundra was their advertising; they rolled a campaign based on, “bigger is better,” during a period when people were cutting back – it was the wrong marketing message. It would have worked great in 1998, but was a marketing boondoggle in 2008.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @HoldenSSVSE- I would like to remind you that when Toyota pulled out all the stops to launch the best Tundra ever, GM decided it necessary to pull ahead the new Silverado/Sierra to the 2008 Model year. Still working for GM, I recall wondering if it was the right use of resources until the Siverado beat Tundra for Truck of the Year.

        It may just be that the Americans sell better because they are simply better trucks!

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        @doctor olds

        Well look at the events of 2008 before the banking meltdown. The price of gasoline spike to its highest per gallon rate in real dollars, and tickled beating in inflation adjusted dollars.

        I really believed when Toyota rolled out the new Tundra they would address the relatively weak HP and torque numbers on their 4.7L V8 while improving the fuel economy. When they didn’t move the needle significantly on power, and went to market with a 14/17, 14/18 MPG story (depending on tranny) with the base 4.7 I was shocked.

        GM rolled the GMT900 pickup trucks on the story of value and fuel economy (much as Ford is doing with the current F-150 launch). I remember the TV ads where GM was going right after Ford and Toyota (not Dodge) in the MPG arena, and touting up to 21 MPG (admittedly highway short cab lowest damn gears on the rear end possible 1/2 ton truck figures).

        Now a 3 to 4 MPG boost on paper isn’t a lot, but when the baseline is 17 MPG – that extra 4 MPG starts to add up at the pump fast.

        It’s all history now; Toyota has a long difficult road globally.

      • 0 avatar
        PJungnitsch

        On the truck of the year, Silverado was 2007 champion, Tundra was 2008 champion.
        In 2007 the Silverado competed against the Avalanche and the Sport Trac, in 2008 the Tundra competed against the Ford and GM heavy duties.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Too bad the Tundra is flopping. It is currently the ONLY full sized truck with high enough domestic content to count as an American made vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        That latest Tundra commercial shocked the daylights out of me, especially if it’s true. I must have rocks in my head, but I just can’t get what’s left of my brain around this. Gotta do some digging, unless TTAC is kind enough to supply this interesting tidbit. Ed? Bertel? Please? If true, where are the “domestics” built? Where are the parts coming from? Are Ford, GM and Dodge selling thinly-disguised Chinese trucks?

        I was planning on buying a domestic-made TV, too, but I’m late to the party on that one as well! Oh well – the U.S. still builds very good weapons…

      • 0 avatar
        PJungnitsch

        On the Tundra, the redesign did increase market share, but numbers are down because of the crashing market. The domestics did quite a bit worse, with Ford sales dropping by 500,000 units after the 2004 redesign and Chev sales dropping by 400,000 after their redesign of 2007.
        The other thing that skews the perception of Tundra sales is that there is no 3/4 ton or bigger versions. Superduties and larger make up almost half of ‘F-series’ numbers. Half ton to half ton, Tundras sold at around a third of Ford sales last year, pretty close to Ram 1500 levels.
         

      • 0 avatar

        Zackman,
        F-150s are built in Dearborn and one other US plant. Rams are built in Sterling Hts and St Louis. Silverados are built in Flint and Texas. While the Big 3 use some Mexican and Canadian factories, I’d be interested to see where CJinSD gets his figures.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @PJungnitsch- That is just not true! The vast majority of full size pickup sales are 1/2 tons.
        Toyota is a failure in this segment. They invested $1.3B in a Texas plant to build Tundras only to shutter it and eventually convert it to production of other vehicles.

        I don’t know Tundra’s total 2010 sales. I do know that they did not make the top 10 truck list and  #10 on that list, Chrysler’s Town & Country sold 112,000. Tundra had to be less. #1 Ford sold 528,000 F150s and GM moved 500,000 Silverados & Sierras. Silverado ranked #2 and Sierra #8. Toyota captured less than 1/4 the volume of either Ford or GM, and only managed to get one vehicle on the list, RAV4 #6 at 170,000 units. I’ll bet they were also less than 1/2 of Ram’s 200,000 units, #4 on the list.  

      • 0 avatar
        PJungnitsch

        @ doctor
        Mike at pickuptrucks.com laid the breakdown out here pretty good for 2010 halfton sales:
        F150: 313,393
        Silverado/Sierra: 397,347
        Ram 1500: 123,785
        Tundra: 93,309
        That’s apples to apples. One thing is that GM outsold Ford in halfton pickups by quite a bit, and yeah, Tundra was about a third of F150 sales last year and pretty close to Ram 1500 numbers.
        Superduty/F-450/F-550 numbers are 41% of ‘F-series’ sales.
        The Tundra plant in San Antonio, Texas is producing fine, what Toyota did do was move Tacoma production there also after NUMMI closed.
         
         

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @PJungnitsch- Thanks for straightening me out on the TOTY. I did not realize Toyota delayed the release until January of ’08. Comparing the Tundra to only the U.S. 1/2 tons is a bit artificial, though not unreasonable. I was wrong about the HD proportion at Ford, but I like your approach because it puts GM trucks in the lead! 

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        @ Ronnie Schreiber,

        Here you go:
        http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2010/06/detroits-pickups-flunk-toyota-soars-on-american-made-list/1
        “What’s interesting this year is the lack of a full-sized domestic pickup truck on the list(of vehicles with high enough domestic content to register as American made),” said Patrick Olsen, Cars.com editor in chief. “The Ford F-150 went from the top spot a couple of years ago to being totally left off the list. While the F-150 is still assembled in the U.S, its domestic parts content fell to 55 percent. In the past, it’s had a domestic parts content of around 80 percent.”
        Baseball, mom-and-apple pie Chevy Silverado didn’t fare any better:
        GM’s full-size pickups – the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra – were also once regulars on the American Made Index, but production of both trucks is split between the U.S. and Mexico, and today’s models only have 65 percent domestic parts content.

        In addition to grabbing the No. 1 rank(Camry is the car with the highest US content), Toyota also has the Tundra pickup and the Sienna minivan on the list, making the Japanese automaker the only manufacturer with three vehicles in the Top 10.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    The Avalanche (and Escalade EXT) shouldn’t be included on the graph as they are variants of the Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon/Escalade SUVs and not the Silverado/Sierra pickups.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Their combined numbers haven’t amounted to much since 2003-04 anyway. I know the Avalanche was a solid seller from 2001 to maybe 2004, when the first fuel spike hit in 2005 that was it.

  • avatar

    I dont understand why the Dodge Ram has not shot up further, when the new model is the best Ram they have ever released IMO?? Do that many buyers hate the notion of a truck with independent suspension in the rear?

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    The Ram half ton doesn’t have IRS, it’s got a live axle with coil springs instead of leafs.
    Honda is the one with IRS.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      The Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 also has an independent rear suspension, always has all the way back to 2001. I believe the 2002 to 2004 model year 2500 was live axle.

      Before anyone replies the Avalanche isn’t a “real” truck be careful – since the bar set was set that the Honda Ridgeline is.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        You’re confusing coil springs with independent.
        Yes the ‘Lanche has coil spring rear suspension, but it’s still a live (solid) axle just like the ‘Burb and Tahoe.

  • avatar
    tiredoldmechanic

    Edward,
              The comment that created the controversy was mine I believe. My bad. Thanks for going to the effort of digging up the data and making up the graph. I will admit to a bias towards the GM product when I am spending my own money, I just like the way they drive better than the Ford. When I am spending the company’s money I am am comfortable with either one as they are both excellent products. I didn’t mean to offend the Ford crew. To me a truck is a work tool, but some folks do get passionate about them.
     To answer Fromabuick6’s question, I think GMC is a holdover from the old Chev/Olds and Pontiac/Buick dealership marketing model. Here in Canada at least, Pontiac Buick dealers were just as common as Chev/Olds. a lot of one horse towns had one or the other but not both so the BP dealers needed a truck to sell. Also, once upon a time they shared bodies but not mechanicals. Engines and suspensions differed so they really were different trucks. The GMC claimed to have premuim components which made them a better work truck. Some folks still see it that way but you are correct. Except for sheetmetal they are identical and have been since at least the early 70’s. I have a 2010 Sierra but that’s just because the dealer had what I needed in a GMC that day. If they’d had a Chevy as well I would have flipped a coin and driven away.
     Noliebro, I think I know why Dodge has not shot up. You may not like this but the simple fact is that Dodge trucks are not as well built as the competition and do not stand up as well. A lot of people know this first hand or word of mouth. It’s really too bad because it is indeed a nice truck. The problems crop up after a few years of driving and normally very shortly after the warranty expires. These are well designed, well engineered trucks that have been “bean countered” almost to death. The mechanicals of these trucks are very much “low bid” and that really ruins what could be the best product in the segment. Chrysler’s apparent policy of 1 day or 1 foot over the warranty period and we don’t wanna hear about it doesn’t help either. A shame really.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Actually, I think it was me. I was pretty pointed in my comments.

      Interesting that GM’s basically out-sold Ford 8 years to 2 over the past decade, where Ford used to rule the segment in the late 1990s.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “Chrysler’s apparent policy of 1 day or 1 foot over the warranty period and we don’t wanna hear about it doesn’t help either. A shame really.”

      Not sure if it’s still true, but a friend who is a body man for a local Honda/Toyota dual-but-separate dealership once stated that the Asian OEM’s build cars for the second and even third owners! That pretty much explains the rise and takeover by the Asian OEM’s in so many segments. Not trucks – not yet.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    And does anybody actually believe GMC is more “premium?”
    I do.  Or at least better looking by far, and certainly less common.  I’d consider a GMC; never a Chevy.
    I honestly don’t think customers are that stupid.
    I’m not stupid…I can be ignorant at times.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    If my ’04 GMC 2500HD PU is any more “Premium” than a comparably equipped Chevy, I certainly can’t see it. I traded in a Chevy on the GMC and bought the GMC simply because I couldn’t stand the Avalanche front end tacked on to the Chevy like a giant afterthought.

    I agree that is doesn’t seem to make sense having both brands becasue they are soo similar  but maybe the people running GM know something we don’t. I’ve also ran into those than will own a Chevy and not a GMC and vice versa. Go figure?????

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @HoldenSSVSE- Ajla is right. What you wrote is factually inaccurate. Looking at Wards FREE data listing the top 10 selling trucks, these are the facts:

      2008 Sales: Ram=245,840; Tundra=137,249
      2009 Sales: Ram=177,248; Tundra <93,000(10th place truck) 

      Toyota and Nissan are not significant players in the full size truck segment, never making the top 10 lists and capturing only about 10% of the segment combined. I am too cheap to buy the data listing individual model sales below the top 10!

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @ Carlson Fan- You can rest assured the people running GM know far more about their business than any of us!

      It is amazing how many think they know the business with no real understanding of the cost drivers and reasons for decisions. 

      I chose a GMC Sierra because I like the dealer and like the styling better. Other than some different content and suspension tuning (according to my salesman?), there is not much difference. GMC offers more premium content in the Denali series, though. 

      Carlson Fan

       
      Carlson Fan

  • avatar
    Eric the Red

    Ford has done well recently and due to their hitting the “all new engines with better horsepower and BETTER GAS MILEAGE” target in the last year they should increase market share significantly.

    I work in Midwest farm country and Ford and Chevy/GMC are both considered good work trucks by farmers and laborers.  Dodge trucks are driven by camper owners that just don’t see the need to spend the extra money when a Dodge does the same thing (on paper) as the Fords and Chevys/GMCs.  Dodges are nice looking truck and drives well, but long term they just don’t hold up as good as the competition.  They continously say the transmission problems are behind us but this been a broken record for decades and meanwhile my neighbour’s Dakota’s transmission is howling every time he drives by.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      My Father’s 290k 1997 Ram 1500 might take offense to you lying about his family. It’s a fine vehicle, and without the scrappy-fabulous Ram– Ford and Chevrolet would have continued building white bread. Heck– Chevy still does.
       
      The new-generation Ram started the dang truck wars. It deserves more respect than this.
       
      Any truck will run as long it’s owner wants– so long as that owner stays on top of maintenance and repairs.

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      My used 110k ’97 Ram might take offense but it’s embarrassed because it just had it’s intake manifold gasket replaced and it’s clutch is getting noisy.
      Having said that let me add that the landscapers in my area use primarily Chevy pickups followed by F-250s then Rams then Tacomas then Frontiers. Oddly, no GMCs or F150s. Part of that is due to there being Chevy and Ford dealers close by. The nearest Dodge dealers are at least 35 miles away and they’re all slimy.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    Stepping aside from the Bowtie/Blue Oval holy wars, I see two two really interesting spots  on the graph. First is the opposing lines in 2001 where Ford & GM sales peaked while Dodge sales dropped to their lowest point prior to 2007. Did Dodge screw up badly that year or did they skip a model year? The other surprise is the precipitous drop form 2007 to 2009 that is probably a combination of credit collapse, recession and high gas prices.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      On your first point, the Ram was new for 2002 so it could’ve been the changeover.

      Plus, GM had that “Keep America Rolling” 0% program after 9/11, so you see a spike in Silverado sales around that time, while Dodge and Ford’s (older) offerings took a dive.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    The full size truck battle between GM and Ford is very close. Ford edged ahead of GM in the first quarter of ’11: Ford=126,627; GM=126,400.
    As GM backed off incentives in March and Ford increased them, F-150 sales surged from about 36,000 in Jan and 38,000 in Feb to 53,000 in March!

    Avalanche and Escalade EXT are considered SUV’s as opposed to pickups, though they sure look like 4 door trucks to me!

    An amazing fact that the data discloses is that trucks still outsold cars 52% to 48% for the first quarter in the U.S. despite gas prices approaching $4 again.

  • avatar
    msquare

    Sounds logical that GM would sell just as many Chevys as they do Chevys and GMC’s combined if they were to consolidate the brands, but the data says otherwise.

    They’re still trying to replace the sales they lost when they dropped Oldsmobile, and it’s probably the same with Pontiac. Sure, it costs more to market and differentiate two brands as opposed to one, but these have been established over several decades and still have loyal fan bases.

    As long as the sales stay ahead of the costs, there’s no reason to change. Dodger and Giant fans didn’t become Yankee fans when their teams left New York, and some didn’t even adopt the Mets.

    I will continue to argue that GM was at its most effective when its divisions acted like separate car companies rather than set their product line up as different trim levels of Chevy. Chrysler might be better off if it marketed Sebrings and PT Cruisers as Plymouths. And Ford may yet pay the price for axing Mercury.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Ford seems to have weathered the “loss” of Mercury just fine. Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Saturn’s product were much more differentiated from Chevrolets than the GMC trucks are. I think Chevy:GMC is more like Ford:Mercury than it is like Chevy:Pontiac.
     

  • avatar

    I wonder if $5+/gal gas will push the US toward the mix of trucks sold in the other 99% of the world?  These Tonka style trucks seem mainly about fashion, and in any other market a $40k truck with a puny 900 kg payload capacity would raise mostly laughter, that’s lower than the cute little Dyna.  Anyone looking to do real work and not make a Paris Hilton style fashion statement would buy a cab forward with 4-7k kg max payload… and let their children pretend to be Walker Texas Ranger.

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