Cain's Segments: July 2013 – Small Trucks Versus The Ford F-Series

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
cain s segments july 2013 small trucks versus the ford f series

Big trucks are really quite good at being many things to many people. Consequently, many people buy big trucks. Sales of full-size trucks in the United States are up 23% this year as the overall industry has grown at an 8% clip. Big trucks are relatively affordable, more fuel efficient than they were in the recent past, and much more liveable than they were even a decade ago.

Small trucks – by which we don’t necessarily mean “small” – are sadly not much more efficient, nor are they significantly more affordable than big trucks. Neither are they as effective as big trucks at replacing the conventional family car.

Yet as you saw on TTAC, General Motors isn’t about to let North Americans go without a small truck from the homeland, by which we mean Thailand. Still named Colorado and Canyon, the Chevrolet and GMC competitors for the Toyota Tacoma should go on sale next year.

Toyota’s certainly not going to give up on the small truck market. It’s a small market, but they own it. Nissan achieves decent volume with the Frontier. Honda clearly feels they have a moral obligation to provide truck buyers with a trunk.

Suzuki is dead in North America, and dying with it is the Equator, a Nissan Frontier copy. The Ranger is gone. So is the Dakota. So there are five left, and the five account for 11.6% of the overall truck market, down from 16.2% in the first seven months of 2012.

Those two numbers are, in one sense, are hardly comparable. The Canyon, Colorado, Dakota, Equator, and Ranger contributed 30% of small truck buyers in the early part of last year, a figure which fell to 3% this year. On the other hand, there were potentially 29,000 truck buyers this year who either fled to the full-size market, bought a car or crossover, didn’t buy anything at all because they’re dissatisfied with the current offerings, or are patiently waiting for the new Colorado.

A strict look at the numbers quickly reveals the Tacoma’s current domination. From 45.1% in the first 58% of last year, the Tacoma’s market share in the category has risen to 65.5%. (The Tacoma’s market share in the overall pickup truck market grew from 7.3% to 7.6%.)

It’s a sad commentary on the Nissan that, without a Ranger and any real competition from GM dealers, sales of the Frontier haven’t improved at all.

Last year, Ridgeline volume rose 44% from its lowest historic level to its second-lowest historic level, and sales are up enough to figure that Ridgeline sales in 2013 will be better than they’ve been since 2008. Perhaps 18,000, maybe 19,000 will be sold this year. Honda sold 50,193 in 2006.


AutoJuly2013July2012July % Change7 mos. 20137 mos. 2012YTD % ChangeChevrolet Colorado2074096– 94.9%324125,553– 87.3%Dodge Dakota—19– 100%—478– 100%Ford Ranger—413– 100%—18,855– 100%GMC Canyon22720– 96.9%8986361– 85.9%Honda Ridgeline1645981+ 67.7%10,6658250+ 29.3%Nissan Frontier56155611+ 0.1%34,93134,996– 0.2%Suzuki Equator—167– 100%4481115– 59.8%Toyota Tacoma13,88211,350+ 22.3%95,07078,503+ 21.1%—— —————Total21,371 23,357 – 8.5% 145,253174,111 – 16.6%
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6 of 229 comments
  • GoFaster58 GoFaster58 on Aug 12, 2013

    I like my 2000 Ranger. It's the perfect size. I wish Chevrolet well although the bed is too high for my use. The Toyota is too ugly. The Nissan is the better looking of all of the smaller trucks available. Sorry Ford but when it comes time for me to trade I'm afraid it's gonna be the Nissan. The F150 is just too damn big.

    • Art  Vandelay Art Vandelay on Aug 12, 2013

      It is a solid truck in all f the 800 miles I have put on mine and the 4.0 pulls well. The F150 was bigger than I like and in a usable for me 4 door form, considerably more costly.

  • DenverMike DenverMike on Aug 13, 2013

    I guess we're no longer talking market trends and things that shape the US small truck market. It started out as a friendly conversation about the changes in the last decade. But once again, our Aussie friends managed to drag yet another truck tread down to a mud slinging event. Now we're having to defend our character and whether we're collecting a paycheck from the UAW to blog the truth (I guess), because they're not arguing or disputing the facts put in front of them, but instead, they've turned the thread into an debate no one can win because it's no longer about facts, stats, trends and reality. G'day.

    • See 2 previous
    • Lie2me Lie2me on Aug 14, 2013

      @Hummer Well, there is another way, but that brings up that whole metric vs imperial argument