By on January 8, 2014


The 234,066 extra new truck registrations in 2013 came about despite the loss of 70,077 sales from trucks that had either died off, been discontinued, or were on hiatus in 2013.

Excluding the Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Suzuki Equator, Ford Ranger, and Dodge Dakota from the equation results in a 16.4% year-over-year increase in truck sales.

America’s top-selling vehicle line, the Ford F-Series, owned 35% of the truck market in 2013, up from 33% in 2012. F-Series volume was higher than it’s been since 2006, when nearly 800,000 were sold. (Ford sold more than 900,000 F-Series pickups in 2004 and again in 2005.) In each of the last eight months, Ford sold more than 60,000 copies of the F-Series, a feat Ford had accomplished only three times in the previous 40 months. In fact, Ford sold more than 70,000 F-Series’ at three different junctures in 2013: May, August, and December, the highest-volume month of all.

GM truck sales tanked in December, as the Silverado and Sierra combined for a 13% decline. But the transition period from GMT900 to GMTK2XX didn’t harm GM’s volume in 2013. Joint Silverado/Sierra market share in the whole truck category increased by one percentage point to 31%. 2013 marked a six-year high for the Silverado, although sales haven’t returned to the 2005 glory days when 706,000 were sold. Meanwhile, GMC’s Sierra last topped 2013’s 184,389-unit achievement in 2007, when 204,243 were sold. GMC sold more than 200,000 Sierras annually from 2004 to 2007.

Chrysler’s Ram truck lineup accounted for 20%, or one in five, Chrysler Group sales in 2013, up from 18% in 2012. December’s 11% increase marked the 44th consecutive month in which Ram sales have improved, year-over-year. This many Rams haven’t been sold since 2007. In 2003, 2004, and 2005, Chrysler sold more than 400,000 Ram trucks annually.

America’s leading non-full-size truck, sales of the “midsize” Toyota Tacoma shot up to a six-year high in 2013. (The Tacoma was America’s 14th-best-selling vehicle in 2006; 24th in 2013.) Not often was a small truck sold in 2013 that wasn’t a Tacoma – it owned 65% of the small/midsize truck market, the part that didn’t already belong to the F-Series, Silverado, Ram, Sierra, Tundra, Avalanche, Titan, and Escalade EXT. That’s up from 51% in 2012, when the Colorado and Ranger put up small but meaningful numbers.

Sales of the Nissan Frontier and Honda Ridgeline increased in 2013, at 13% and 26%, respectively. Yet two Tacomas were sold for every one Frontier or Ridgeline. In 2006, the year that the Tacoma became America’s 14th-best-selling vehicle, the Chevrolet Colorado ranked 51st, ahead of the Ford Ranger but 81,475 sales back of the Toyota.

The Frontier-based Suzuki Equator died in 2013. Sales of the dying Chevrolet Avalanche – 15,618 through the first three quarters; just 908 in the fourth quarter – were an afterthought. The Avalanche and its Cadillac sibling, along with the Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra and the four big “domestics”, controlled 89% of America’s truck market in 2013, up from 86% in 2012, up from 84% in 2011.

Naturally, this leads to questions regarding the chance for Colorado success in 2014 and 2015. Basing expectations on what we’ve witnessed over the last twelve months, while not pointless, may prove to be lacking a solid foundation.

The truck market, strong as it is, with 14% of the auto industry’s sales, has been in a perpetual state of upheaval. Nameplates are being killed off left, right, and center. The dominant midsize truck isn’t exactly fresh as a daisy. The best-selling truck, Ford’s F-Series, will feature an awful lot of aluminum later this year. There’s now a light-duty diesel option.

There appears to be more than enough evidence to point to a continuation of this trend, the trend that shows potential truck market growth fuelled by full-size trucks. But there are chips up in the air, and with countless variables, we don’t really know where they’ll fall.

Ford F-Series 763,402 645,316 + 18.3%
Chevrolet Silverado 480,414 418,312 + 14.8%
Ram Pickup 355,673 293,363 + 21.2%
GMC Sierra 184,389 157,185 + 17.3%
Toyota Tacoma 159,485 141,365 + 12.8%
Toyota Tundra 112,732 101,621 + 10.9%
Nissan Frontier 62,837 55,435 + 13.4%
Honda Ridgeline 17,723 14,068 + 26.0%
Chevrolet Avalanche 16,526 23,995 – 31.1%
Nissan Titan 15,691 21,576 – 27.3%
Chevrolet Colorado 3412 36,840 – 90.7%
Cadillac Escalade EXT 1972 1934 + 2.0%
GMC Canyon 929 8735 -89.4%
Suzuki Equator 448 1966 – 77.2%
Ford Ranger 19,366 – 100%
Dodge Dakota 490 – 100%
2,175,633 1,941,567 + 12.1%
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27 Comments on “Cain’s Segments: Trucks In 2013...”

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    I’ll give Nissan some credit to sticking with the Titan. <16K sales per year!

    On the flipside, it ticks me off they're willing to stick with the Titan while refusing to offer a manual transmission in the Altima or Maxima. Make it a special order! [I understand the Titan is fully paid for at this point so their break-even on making these has got to be a low #, but still]

    • 0 avatar

      I’m sure stubbornness and wanting to be ‘full-line’ may play into it, but the Titan shares a chassis with the Frontier. Armada and the Infiniti Q-something.

    • 0 avatar

      Titan sells for a lot higher price than a manual Maxima would.

    • 0 avatar

      Dude, give it up on the manual. Not gonna happen. Only 6% of total vehicle sales are manual transmissions. It cost the manufactures a bundle to certify every trans/engine combo. Plus dealers want to stock the most popular trim/color/equipment combos on their lots. You will see fewer and fewer due to manufacturer costs and dealer turn desires.

  • avatar

    I’d never heard of the Suzuki Equator (rebadged Frontier, it turns out) until seeing one in the wild yesterday. Looks like it didn’t do much to save the brand here in the US.

  • avatar

    Would it be possible to break the fullsize trucks into medium vs. heavy duty, i.e. F150/1500 vs. F250/2500 on up? Just curious.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I could never understand why Ford dropped the Ranger and Dodge dropped the Dakota. They were kinda like basic mens underwear; holes developed in weird places, significant other said it was time to get new, you just went out and got new. Tooling had been paid off forever so that probably ran about a dime per truck. Some whiz kid at Ford really messed up when he thought I’d want a Transit.

    • 0 avatar

      Tooling may be free and development costs are sunk, but plants are not free, they were retooled to make something else. Ford is not like Mitsu who do not know what to do with the Normal, IL plant. A plant making Rangers is a plant that can’t make something that sells better. And that something is not Transit which is made in Turkey anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      The compact truck market is shrinking.

      The price points are too low in comparison to the volume in order to justify keeping them.

      Toyota dominates the segment, and can’t be beat.

      With the move toward crossovers, platform sharing opportunities for compact/midsize pickups are limited.

      Resources are scarce, and there are better places to put them.

      Overall, there is no reason to commit heavily to a dying space that is totally owned by a competitor and that doesn’t produce good margins.

      If compact truck buyers were willing to pay average prices of $35-40k or more, then it might be a different story. But they aren’t.

      • 0 avatar

        Platform sharing is limited unless you build a crossover-based ute. Which is probably a dumb idea, but just pointing it out.

        • 0 avatar

          The Honda Ridgeline is the byproduct of platform sharing. It makes no sense for Honda to have a dedicated truck platform; the Ridgeline is just amortizing development costs of the Acura MDX and (unsuccessful) RLX. The Ridgeline may not sell well, but it’s better for Honda to offer it than to develop a genuine full-size competitor.

          This problem must have contributed to the death of the Ranger. Since American compact truck buyers have demands that can’t be met by an international model, it’s more cost effective for Ford to skip the segment altogether. Presumably, some of those buyers are being steered toward Escapes, and a few of them into F-150s; the customers who are lost aren’t worth the effort.

          • 0 avatar

            Near the end of its run a lot the Ranger sales were to commercial fleets, many of which put a canopy on it before putting it to work. So for many of those commercial customers the Transit Connect is a suitable alternative and in a number of ways is more practical. No tailgate to reach over to pull things out and the sliding doors make it easier to access things near the front of the cargo area easier than opening side windows on a canopy.

          • 0 avatar

            The thing with Honda is that all their lines are flex. It doesn’t really matter what they sell of the Ridgeline, they’ll just make Oddessys or Pilots instead if it slows. Practically free cars instead of something like Ford which had a dedicated plant for the Ranger.

  • avatar

    Congrats to Ram – really impressive sales gains and I read a lot of great things about their new 1/2 tons.

  • avatar

    I am surprised that GMC hasn’t had a bigger increase in sales with the 2014 Sierra/Silverado. They don’t look or sound “all new” and that may be part of the problem. Keeping the 4.3, 5.3, and 6.2 names may be effective in reasuring “old” buyers that things are the same but it may hurt attracting new buyers.
    The looks have been an issue for many. The Silverado is being labled as a retro 80’s truck. The Sierra looks like an evolution of its replacement. Chevy guys said that sales were dropping due to the GMT900 platform but what is the excuse now?
    Ford has an old platform and is stting recorrds and IIRC, GMC has had higher rebates in the USA.

    • 0 avatar

      At introduction the choices of configurations were limited and that could account for a slow take off of the new model. Not saying that is the only or even the main reason but it certainly could have contributed.

    • 0 avatar

      Why are you surprised? They are considerably more expensive that the old models and it is hard to differentiate the “all-new” models from the old. No brainer that one. Ford is offering huge incentives to move the F-150 until the new lightweight aluminum intensive model comes out and RAM is offering technological innovations like the ZF 8-speed transmission and the upcoming Eco-Diesel in the 1500. Still surprised?

      • 0 avatar

        It looks to me that GM went too conservative when they went to redesign. Yes, upgraded interior which is nice but not too far. Sure, it’s got the “best in class” specs of whatever locked up but that’s beating a dead horse. Nobody cares any more.

        Ford leads with innovation and sits on the throne for first mover. RAM plays Cinderella and does interesting things with the parts bins and puts their best face forward and gets kudos for it. It it’s not a winner on the floor it at least gets a “nice try” and good press. GM is the wallflower. Nothing outstanding. Nothing bad, mind you, but not a preference changer either. That said, moving 650,000 units of anything is nothing to sneeze at. Toyota would kill to get that close and anyone else would just fall over and faint because they wouldn’t have any capability to produce anything like those numbers.

        It always kills me about the truck guys… ask them and they’re all going on how Chevy is for show, Ford is for go, but then they get a Tundra from work and “it’s the best truck they’ve ever driven!” As long as they don’t have to pay to fill it up.

        • 0 avatar

          “…then they get a Tundra from work and “it’s the best truck they’ve ever driven! As long as they don’t have to pay to fill it up.”

          It’s a thirsty beast for sure, but it truly IS the best truck I have ever driven or ever owned. And I’ve owned all of Detroit’s best over the years.

          But if I ever have to step up to a 3/4-ton pickup truck, and Tundra doesn’t make one at that time, I’d go with an F250 gasser.

          The Fords may be rude, crude and obnoxious compared to the finesse of a Tundra, but Ford makes better trucks than GM and RAM, hands down. No two ways about it!

          • 0 avatar

            @highdesertcat – 4Wheeler magazine just picked the Silverado as their truck of the year. The other contenders were the new Ram 2500 and the new Tundra. I would of picked the Ram based on specs alone – 6.4 V8 and coil spring suspension all around. 4Wheeler said the 6.4 power was “underwhelming”. Ouch that has gotta hurt since the Rambo crowd was expecting the 6.4 to kick ass.
            4Wheeler found that they didn’t think there was a huge difference between a coil spring truck and one with leafs. That is another let down. I expected more out of coils.

          • 0 avatar

            Lou_BC, Yes, I caught that.

            My preference IS leaf-springs in a truck because I routinely max out the downward load either by loading the bed or hitching a trailer with 1000 pounds of downward force on the ball.

            For empty ride over the unpaved roads where I live, the coil springs have it over the leafs IMO. Better ride, better handling, less skittishness, less washboarding.

            As far as the awards go, they rotate them from brand to brand each year. Last year it was RAM. This year it was GM’s turn. For 2015 it will be the all-new 2015 F150. Foregone conclusion.

            The only thing that really got my attention in 2007 was the way that the Detroit automakers compared themselves to the Tundra in ads and commercials.

            For that to happen, it has to be significantly better than the rest. And it was.

            For 2015 the new F150 is rumored to have a 10.5-inch differential ring gear, huge Brembo 4-piston fixed-caliper brakes, huge axle bearings like the Tundra, a two stage frame similar to that of the Tundra to resist bending the frame, and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

            Honestly, I don’t see how Ford can make all those upgrades and still remain competitive for Joe Sixpack to be able to afford one.

            But I trust the people who told me this because they haven’t been wrong yet so far. Besides, we really won’t know for sure until the actual production starts in August.

  • avatar

    @Scoutdude – they led off with what is usually the most popular configuration – 5.3 crewcab 4×4.
    I doubt that sales dropped because everyone was waiting for a reg cab long box 4×2 V6.
    Maybe the fleets were waiting and that tends to account for 15 – 20% of full sized truck sales.

  • avatar

    Truck makers may think they can sell de-contented or smaller engined full size trucks instead of the compacts, but the size of full size trucks, especially the height, makes them impractical for those who had a Ranger. It may be time to fashion a new El Camino out of a midsize or even compact sedan. For what the Ranger was used, even a FWD Focus-based Ranchero would work.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    For whatever reason, the manufacturers work hard on year over year improvement in their trucks instead of striving to cut every single corner. It accounts for their huge brand loyalty and Its the secret to their long-term success.

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