By on September 1, 2017

2017 Nissan Frontier King Cab - Image: NissanNoteworthy year-over-year sales declines were reported in August 2017 by the three lowest-volume members of America’s five-strong midsize pickup truck category. As a result, U.S. sales of midsize pickups tumbled 8 percent last month, driving their share of the overall pickup truck category down from 18 percent in August 2016 to 16 percent in August 2017.

The Honda Ridgeline, America’s lowest-volume pickup truck in each of the last two months, reported a 24-percent drop to 2,610 units. For the 2018 model year, Honda will make the all-wheel-drive Ridgeline distinctly less affordable. The GMC Canyon, which persistently and predictably generates far less showroom traffic than its Chevrolet Colorado twin, tumbled by a fifth to 2,698 sales. And the Nissan Frontier, which last year reported its best calendar year results in 15 years, continued its 2017 tumble with a 51-percent plunge to only 4,637 units, its lowest-volume month since January.

But those are low-volume midsize trucks, scarcely relevant in the overall pickup truck scheme. Total pickup truck volume rose 4 percent in August because full-size trucks jumped 6 percent, thanks mainly to the best-selling vehicle line in America: Ford’s F-Series.

The F-Series share of America’s full-size truck market, already climbing in the earlier part of 2017, soared to 38.5 percent in August 2017 — up from 35.6 percent a year ago and 38.1 percent during the first seven months of 2017.

Year-to-date, F-Series volume is up 9 percent. As much as Ford is pleased with the overall lineup’s volume improvement, the automaker is also touting the number of high-end variants consumers are selecting.USA pickup truck market share pie chart 2017 - Image: © The Truth About CarsIn August, the average transaction price for F-Series Super Duty trucks rose $5,500, year-over-year, to $55,000 as more than half of all Super Duty customers chose Lariat, King Ranch, or Platinum trims. Ford says that’s $7,000 higher than the average transaction price in America’s luxury vehicle category. Super Dutys typically account for around one-third of F-Series sales. Ford says the average transaction price across the F-Series lineup rose 8 percent to $45,600 last month.

In boosting total full-size truck sales, Ford finally received some help from the segment No.2, Chevrolet’s Silverado. Silverado sales were down 6 percent through 2017’s first seven months but rose 4 percent to nearly 55,000 units in August. That was the best month for the Silverado since December 2015.

A 5-percent Toyota Tundra improvement and a 182-percent Nissan Titan leap (equal to 2,273 additional sales) pushed the full-size truck category forward despite modest declines from the Ram P/U and GMC Sierra.

Rank Pickup Truck Aug. 2017 Aug. 2016 % Change 2017 YTD 2016 YTD % Change
#1 Ford F-Series 77,007 66,946 15.0% 576,334 527,847 9.2%
#2 Chevrolet Silverado 54,448 52,408 3.9% 363,354 380,176 -4.4%
#3 Ram P/U 37,608 40,265 -6.6% 327,759 313,294 4.6%
#4 Toyota Tacoma 17,394 15,373 13.1% 129,362 126,988 1.9%
#5 GMC Sierra 17,254 17,478 -1.3% 136,370 146,372 -6.8%
#6 Toyota Tundra 10,320 9,875 4.5% 74,518 75,315 -1.1%
#7 Chevrolet Colorado 10,256 9,242 11.0% 71,763 69,664 3.0%
#8 Nissan Frontier 4,637 9,537 -51.4% 50,097 61,792 -18.9%
#9 Nissan Titan 3,521 1,248 182% 31,776 8,490 274%
#10 GMC Canyon 2,698 3,363 -19.8% 20,347 24,257 -16.1%
#11 Honda Ridgeline 2,610 3,437 -24.1% 23,792 9,429 152%
Small/Midsize 37,595 40,952 -8.2% 295,361 292,130 1.1%
Full-Size 200,158 188,220 6.3% 1,510,111 1,451,494 4.0%
Total 237,753 229,172 3.7% 1,805,472 1,743,624 3.5%

Ford certainly welcomed the F-Series’ significant August uptick. Excluding pickup trucks, August 2017 sales at the Blue Oval slid 10 percent. F-Series included, Ford was down just 2 percent.

At General Motors, the Silverado/Colorado surge was part of an 11-percent improvement at Chevrolet. With booming Acadia and Terrain sales, GMC was up 12 percent despite the Sierra/Canyon letdown. Cadillac and Buick, the latter in particular, both reported harsh declines.

Ram’s 7-percent pickup slide was part of a general decline at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles where Jeep tumbled 15 percent, Chrysler was down by a third, Dodge slipped just 2 percent, and Fiat was down 23 percent. Total FCA sales, Alfa Romeo included, were down 11 percent.

[Images: Nissan, © The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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13 Comments on “Despite Sharp Midsize Truck Decline, U.S. Pickup Truck Sales Rose 4 Percent in August 2017...”

  • avatar

    34% of US FMC sales are the F-series and 34% of GM’s US deliveries are K2 based.

    In fact, total BOF offerings at Ford and GM outsell their CUVs.

    It seems that people are going from cars to CUVs in large numbers but they aren’t really going from trucks/SUVs to CUVs.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    We love our trucks. Big American-label trucks and a well-branded offroadable recreational midsizer. We’re not as hot on ancient Nissans, or American-built Japanese-label big trucks. And apparently Honda CUVs with a bed on the back can go take a flying leap at the moon in this market. For such a thorough media-ballyhooed redesign, that YOY August decline has to smart a bit for Honda.

    • 0 avatar

      What is with Honda and it’s pricing strategy? Unibody was hailed as a method to lower prices on vehicles. Yet suddenly a Fullsize V8 4 door BOF True 4×4 with low range truck can be bought for less than a unibody FWD based AWD system? Auto buyers were truly sold a line of words with that direction.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think Honda feels too bad about the Ridgeline drop. I can’t imagine they weren’t expecting it as the newness of it wore off and all those that had been waiting for the new one have got theirs and are good for awhile.

      I don’t think that Honda ever claimed their trucks would be less expensive because they are unibody. Fact is they come off of the same line as the hot selling Pilot, so they are pricing to keep demand in line with the number they can produce. The did drop the former base model because they were not having problems meeting demand with the higher trims they were shipping initially.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Truck sales will spike once the situation on houston stabilizes.

    Their will be a large number that need replaced.

  • avatar

    I’m sure that the sales drop of small trucks is because they aren’t small enough /sarc

    Aluminum bodies was such a huge mistake for Ford. Aren’t transaction prices an indicator of profit margins?

  • avatar

    The small truck drop is not surprising and everyone in the know should have been expecting it.

    When the Colorado and Ranger went away all those auto parts stores, pest control companies, landscapers and handymen still needed new trucks. Since their favorites were gone and they were down to two choices they overwhelmingly chose the lower priced Nissan.

    Then GM annouced the reintroduction of their Twins. So sales of the Frontier dropped as people figured they can make it a bit longer with their current truck(s). Then it came on the market and while some bought the Canyado others went with the Nissan. Now those people that had waited for the GM twins before their purchase were now in their new trucks.

    The announcement of the new Ranger will and in some cases is already having a similar effect. Sales of the Nissan and GM trucks will slow significantly as the Ranger’s launch date appears. Once the Ranger drops everyone but Toyota will see an uptick in sales as some people decide the Ranger is not for them. Then than year of pent up demand will work through the system and the sales will drop again across the rest of the board, though the Tacoma will far and away see the least impact.

    The Ridgeline represents a similar issue. They had a lot of customers that were happy with their current truck and were willing to wait for the new one. The new one has been around for a while now and that pent up demand is going away.

  • avatar
    SD 328I

    Considering Ford is outselling GM with just two lines of trucks vs GM six lines, I wonder if they really want to introduce the Ranger now?

    Ford has the highest average sales price and lowest incentives of all the full-size trucks at the moment, the Ranger is probably at a lower profit margin than the F-series, it could eat into that.

  • avatar

    Well, all that professional commentary about midsize trucks being superior to full-size, how once we got some fresh players that midsize trucks would start to dominate, and how *every* truck out there is better than F-Series, sure has panned out well.

    Proof is in the pudding. How do you say that in Australianese? Oh, I know, its Efff Won Fidy.

    Its a g’day to be a Ford man.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Crikey Mate! Don’t you know it’s all a vast UAW conspiracy, closed US markets, and the Yanks refusal to adopt European standards because they’re stubborn, ignorant Yanks that make the US truck market uniquely unfair!!! I’ll drive my lacquered tissue paper for body panels and have a diesel engine that can double as a mosquito fogger; that’ll show those jingoist buggers!!! Keep this up and there’ll be no roasted wombat with a Vegemite glaze for yer gob!

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    And the Aussies wept.

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