Domestic Truck Wars: No One Wants to Finish Last in Detroit

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
domestic truck wars no one wants to finish last in detroit

There’s a chill in the auto industry that wasn’t present a year ago. Sales are down compared to this time last year, with only a select few automakers posting year-to-date gains. Among members of the Detroit Three, volume loss is the order of the day.

Over the first three months of 2019, Ford sales sank 1.6 percent, General Motors sales declined 7 percent, and Fiat Chrysler volume dropped 3 percent. While the long-predicted slowdown is upon us, rivalry in the lucrative full-size pickup segment has never been hotter — and the battle for second place among the top three truck nameplates shows no signs of ending.

Naturally, Ford’s F-Series line took the volume crown, just as it has for decades, with sales up 0.2 percent through the end of March. Ford boasts that F-Series incentive spending was the lowest in the segment.

Chevrolet claims it’s standing firm on its spending, avoiding the urge to boost sales with a hood-denting cash dump. Unfortunately for Chevy, sales of the Silverado line are down 15.7 percent, year to date, despite the automaker keeping the old Silverado 1500 (now with an “LD” suffix) on the market to bolster volume and offer buyers a lower entry price. The next-generation 1500 dropped late last year, with the controversially designed 2020 Heavy Duty launching this summer.

As for Ram, the continued production of the old 1500 (“Classic”) and new-for-2019 model worked wonders for volume, with the brand up 15 percent, year to date. March sales rose 9 percent.

Ram now has a growing lead over Chevrolet in the full-size truck race, recording 120,026 sales in the first quarter of 2019 to Chevy’s 114,313. In the last quarter of 2018, Silverado edged out Ram by just 226 units.

While a botched launch of the 2019 Ram 1500 proved beneficial to Chevy, which finished 2018 ahead of Ram, leads don’t always last. Compare Q1 2019’s results to the same quarter a year ago, when the Silverado nameplate garnered 135,545 buyers to the Ram line’s 103,964.

GM points to FCA’s generous sales incentives as the reason for its rival’s second-place position, though some question whether the General will have to follow suit. Even if it’s willing to let Ram take the silver sales medal, falling sales are cause for concern.

“Chevrolet has been disciplined. But how long can they maintain discipline as they’re losing market share? They’ll have to respond in some way,” Autoline host John McElroy told the Detroit Free Press.

For Ford, safe in its first-place perch (it sold 214,611 F-Series trucks last quarter), the battle between GM and FCA is an amusing distraction. The Q1 volume bump, small though it may be, is no doubt music to Jim Hackett’s ears.

A next-generation F-150 will make an appearance later this year before going on sale as a 2020 model.

[Image: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC, Ford, General Motors]

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12 of 45 comments
  • Well once again Ford walks all over the competition, despite having the oldest offering in the group. Great job Ford!

    • See 8 previous
    • DenverMike DenverMike on Apr 05, 2019

      @DenverMike Frames don't define a "platform", same as fenders, headlights, etc. First learn what a platform consist of. Tahoe/Escalades for example share the Silverado/Sierra platform, depending on the generation changeover, and this while their frames are far from interchangeable.

  • Kushman1 Kushman1 on Apr 05, 2019

    So let's be honest all if not most full size pickups are all collectively ugly and overpriced as of late but when it comes down to it, it's: Ford's #1 vs Ram's interior vs chevy /GMC , than toyota, nissan When FCA made Ram into it's own entity with marketing etc to match it was a great idea because in both "america segments" of pickups and muscle coupes ram/dodge challenger is killing Chevy. If FCA woke up and realized now the time to build out both brands to take on etc now is the time built around those 2nd place successes. All FCA needs to do is keep marketing money going and they got it. It was never Chevy putting out a better product it was just an untapped Ram Brand.

    • WhatsMyNextCar WhatsMyNextCar on Apr 07, 2019

      I read through this comment 3 times, and I still don't follow. What are we all being honest about? And how is that related to the rest of your comment? What's the garbage about "america segments" [sic]? Is your point that FCA just needs to keep advertising? Is the whole comment just a rant about FCA? My goodness... This was a waste of time.

  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.
  • Inside Looking Out Scandinavian design costs only $600? I mean the furniture.