U.S. Midsize Truck Sales Jumped 48% In April 2015 – Colorado/Canyon At 30% Market Share

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Midsize pickup truck sales jumped 48% to just under 31,000 units in April 2015, a gain of 10,000 units.

In April, the overall U.S. auto industry grew by approximately 64,000 sales. Overall pickup truck sales increased by 15,000 units. In other words, much of the growth in the pickup truck market last month was generated by the smaller quintet.

Year-to-date, the Toyota Tacoma-led small/midsize category has grown by more than 38,000 sales, slightly more than the 36,000 sales added by full-size pickup trucks.

While their bigger brethren are growing faster than the rate of the overall industry, it’s the arrival of new GM midsize twins and continued growth from the two key established midsize players causing the overall pickup truck market to appear so especially healthy.

Yes, even as Chevrolet and GMC added 35,696 sales to the midsize category through the first four months of 2015 – equal to 31% market share – the Toyota Tacoma hasn’t suffered, nor has the Nissan Frontier.

Year-to-date, the Tacoma’s market share has plummeted from 63% to 48%. But if there was ever a situation in which market share tallies matter not, surely this is it. Toyota Tacoma sales jumped 13% through the first one-third of 2015 and in April more specifically. The Tacoma is on track for its best year since 2007, perhaps even 2006.

AutoApril2015April2014%Change2015 YTD2014 YTD%ChangeToyota Tacoma15,65613,87112.9%55,32249,10012.7%Chevrolet Colorado7,0105140,100%26,13622118,700%Nissan Frontier5,8275,6972.3%24,92923,5595.8%GMC Canyon2,432——9,5842479,100%Honda Ridgeline431,328-96.8%4705,172-90.9%—— —————Total30,96820,90148.2% 116,44177,85549.6%

Nissan Frontier sales are also rising. In fact, the Frontier’s rate of growth matches the rate of expansion in the full-size truck category. April sales of the Frontier increased only marginally, however, and the 5,827-unit total was the lowest for the Frontier since July of last year. Nevertheless, the pace of improvement through the first one-third of 2015 suggests Nissan will easily exceed last year’s U.S. sales total, which was the best since 2006.

As for the GM twins, April was the best month yet for the new Chevrolet Colorado. At 7,010 units, April was about 10% better than the first-quarter average for the Colorado. GMC Canyon sales have hovered between 2,400-2,500 per month over the last three months. Combined, the twins continue to trail the Toyota Tacoma by a wide margin and will continue to do so until one of two factors takes effect: either Tacoma sales will drop as the automaker prepares to launch a significantly revised 2016 model or GM will decide there’s enough demand to support increased production.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on May 13, 2015

    @Denver Mike--Again Toyota is not taking a loss. Toyota does not discount like GM, Ford, and Chrysler. If anything Toyota is more profitable than GM, Ford, and Chrysler. Larger volume does not always equal profit. Toyota has a lot less invested in the development and manufacturer of their trucks than Ford and for the most part both Tacoma and Tundra are at best refreshed. It takes a lot more capital to design a new truck and to completely retool and reconfigure plants as Ford has done with the F-150. Ford has much more risk than Toyota, Nissan, GM, and Chrysler and it will take a longer period of time and a lot more units to recover their costs which I believe they will but there are no guarantees. Ford has bet everything on the new F-150 and is for the most part dependent on it but Toyota and Nissan are not as heavily invested in their trucks and are not dependent on their very existence on trucks. GM, Ford, and Chrysler would all probably be receiving government bailouts if it were not for the sales of large trucks. Toyota will still be around after all the Detroit based vehicle manufacturers have either been acquired by the Chinese or India or they have gone out of business I am not saying this because I am a Toyota fan (I am not) but Toyota has a more sustainable business model than Detroit.

    • DenverMike DenverMike on May 14, 2015

      Actually large volume usually means large profits. For GM, Ford and Chrysler, FS pickups, without a doubt. They're only the top 3 most profitable cars in the world. This we do know. NO we don't know that the Tundra and Tacoma are anywhere near profitable just because you think so. Toyota doesn't discount their trucks much at all, but that would indicate they really can't afford to, as profits are too thin if at all. An OEM can limit incentives simply by limiting (already limited) production. Technically an OEM has to buy back overstock that doesn't sell. It's cheaper to stack enough money on the hood, than ship it back. Yes Toyota is more successful an OEM than any of the Detroit Big 3 will ever be, but at the same time, Toyota can certainly afford to sell pickups at a huge loss if they choose to.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on May 14, 2015

    Light truck sales are effected by the total overall fleet average of mpgs. Why do you think Fiat Chrysler made an electric Fiat 500 which they are not that anxious to sell at a loss.

    • Vulpine Vulpine on May 15, 2015

      "Why do you think Fiat Chrysler made an electric Fiat 500 which they are not that anxious to sell at a loss." They make them because they have to, not because of "fleet averages". One US state specifically requires any brand who wants to sell in that state MUST sell at least 10% Zero Emissions Vehicles or buy'ZEV Credits' to remain in the state; this is why nearly every manufacturer now offers at least one battery electric car which is only available in that state and one other. However, that ZEV policy has been adopted by nine other states, meaning those OEMs need to figure out very quickly how to make those BEVs profitable, and their current minimalist attempts simply cannot scale as Fiat specifically claims they lose $10K per vehicle despite selling them for $10K above their ICE sisters. Right now the only brand that is making an individual profit on a per-vehicle basis is Tesla (though there's a whole 'nother argument about Tesla's profits or lack thereof). No, light truck SALES or not affected by the fleet MPG average. Light truck SALES are affected by necessity for the hauling capacity and desire for something big and comfortable. This also means that as the truck fleet grows, the "fleet wide" economy falls. In fact, as I remember in the latest CAFE rulings, trucks have now been singled out as having a separate fleet requirement due to all the real economy work having been put into the cars where aerodynamics especially is far easier to implement. To be quite blunt, I expect to see those huge grills and flat faces on pickups morph into somewhat softer, more rounded shapes with some very exotic-looking bubbles and blisters where wind-grabbing slabs and planks currently exist. I do expect certain policies will be forced to change to permit cameras in place of mirrors on the exterior of the truck--with fighter-jet style interior mirrors as non-electric backups; those big truck mirrors generate a surprising amount of drag compared to their automotive cousins.

  • Slavuta Mazda3 is a great car @$20K inflation money
  • Tassos Maybe Fisker and his buddy Bob Lutz will buy a couple and use them to be BURIED IN THEM.
  • Peter CHAdeMo charging ports. In 2024? I thought everyone quit using those a decade ago. Its almost like Nissan is intentionally trying to go broke.
  • Ron Hartikka the total time for someone charging in this manner would be 11.5 hours from empty to full….wrong, I think, by just being about a factor of 10. At 110V outlet I charge my SV at 2 mph. The range is 212 miles. 212/2=106 hours. Yes it takes 4 days. but it works for me and I love the car which is a 2019
  • Kosmo Anybody else remember that in the very early years of the Leaf that you could lease one for $99 a month?