By on April 9, 2020

Rarely are week-to-week sales a useful yardstick of industry (or brand) performance, but the past month’s upheaval has changed that view just a bit.

We told you last week how, despite the U.S. car buyers staying away from dealerships in droves, pickups fared significantly better in late March than any other segment. The drop in sales for these must-have machines, while still steep, paled in comparison to other types of vehicles.

Not surprisingly, that decline continued in the past week. Still, with loyalty among domestic buyers sitting at a two-decade high, Detroit’s grip on what’s left of the market remains secure for now.

According to data compiled by J.D. Power, Sunday, April 5th saw retail sales fall 84 percent compared to a year earlier. Last week, the industry contracted 59 percent compared to pre-virus forecasts, and light-duty pickups followed the downward trend. While the segment ended March on something of an upswing, volume loss last week was considerable — despite it being  half that of the industry as a whole.

With buyers visiting remaining dealerships choosing trucks at a much greater rate than anything else, the Detroit Three closed the week with 50.8 percent of the country’s retail volume. That’s down slightly from last week’s 51.1 percent. A surge in zero-percent financing offers and 84-month loan terms have helped Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and GM retain as much of a dwindling market as possible; customer loyalty hasn’t been this high since the Bush administration.

How loyal are Detroit Three owners? Last week, 83 percent of Detroit Three owners or lessees who swapped into a new vehicle drove off in another Detroit Three product. That’s down 1 percent from a week prior, but it shows the power of pickup brand loyalty, and what can happen to stats when one group of car buyers stays home while the other continues shopping. Loyalty among the non-Detroit Three crowd was 74 percent, down nearly 10 percent from a month earlier.

“Strong messaging is attracting current Detroit 3 vehicle owners and helping them to remain loyal and is also enabling conquest of major competitors,” J.D. Power stated.

The message FCA, GM, and Ford want to get across? If no-interest, long-term loans can’t get you through the door, there’s even more cash waiting on the hood.

Surpassing the previous week’s record incentives and average transaction price, the industry spiffed its way to a new high water mark last week. Average incentive spend per vehicle, industry-wide, was $5,100 (up $300 from the week ending March 29th). Last week’s record ATP rose $800 to $36,300. For light duty pickups, average incentives amounted to $7,300 per vehicle — up $100 from last week’s record.

How high can they go? With stay-at-home orders expected to last through the month, if not longer, we won’t have to wait long to find out.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler]

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31 Comments on “Pickups Can’t Do the Impossible, but They’re Keeping the ‘Buy American’ Crowd in the Majority...”


  • avatar
    cprescott

    Unless you are in the market for a mid-sized pickup, there is nothing with a Toyoduh, Honduh, or Nissan nameplate that is worth spit. I am not sure why Toyoduh is incapable of building a competent full-sized truck and Nissan simply thinks coping an F-150 will work. These clowns are not committed to a full on level of competition and simply pander to the low rents of their buying regime while not taking the market seriously. And Honduh builds a covered catbox carrier, not a real pickup anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “And Honduh builds a covered catbox carrier, not a real pickup anyway.”

      Even though I don’t agree with your sentiments, I’ll award you with Comment of the Day. :)

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I do find the Ridgeline to be a wretched looking device.

    • 0 avatar
      teddyc73

      I hear ya, I sure do hate when they “pander to the low rents of their buying regime”. Damn them low rents.
      By the way, they are spelled “Toyota” and “Honda”. Duh!

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      Now, now! Our colorful wheeled cat carrier (for taking the cats to the vet) looks much better than a Ridgeline!

    • 0 avatar
      bkojote

      I’d wager just about any Tundra could hit half a million miles without major issues. I don’t think a Chevy or Ram could hit 1/10th of that.

      There’s a reason why GM mechanics drive Toyotas.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @bkojote – I know 2 guys with Tundra’s. I gave one a ride to the dealership to get his after a water pump failed. The other Tundra died due to an electrical gremlin. I had to come and pick up all the scouts he was packing. Purely anecdotal but they aren’t as great as you say. My 2010 F150 has similar durability ratings as the same year Tundra and it cost me considerably less for the same features.
        Hitting a half million miles depends on where you live and what you do with it. I bet there aren’t ANY 1/2 million mile trucks of ANY brand in my part of the world that haven’t had a fortune spent on them.

        • 0 avatar
          bkojote

          Not saying every Tundra is flawless but looking at the numbers such problems are anomalies whereas the overwhelming majority of every RAM and GM pickup is going to have major major issues.

          Ford’s hit or miss. You’ve got some that can run forever but the EcoBoost engines are time bombs, as are the 3-Valve V8’s. Personally I wouldn’t have much faith in the company that thought the cyclone v6 and powershift transmission were suitable to sell.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “I gave one a ride to the dealership to get his after a water pump failed.”

          My thought to this man is, yes, water pumps are a wearable item which needs replaced around 100K (or whenever Toyota recommends). Did his go out early on?

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @28-Cars-Later – water pumps seem to be a common issue on Toyota’s. The fellow leased all his vehicles. His truck was very low mileage. The Sienna I had needed one replaced.

            In my lifetime the only other vehicles in my circle that needed a new water pump was my dad’s R600 Mack truck with 1/2 million miles on it and our 1968 Galaxie 500.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I had a Saturn factory water pump seize on me at precisely 155444, but otherwise always changed them around 100 as recommended and never had another issue. When the Saturn seized, I was quite poor and that’s why I skirted the recommended maintenance.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    If you wait too long, you’ll miss out on the truck that’s just right. Selection will have to suffer.

    They’re built with almost endless variation. And god forbid only Toyotas and Nissans are left. Ouch. Like toilet paper vs sand paper.

  • avatar
    Zipster

    I also like the “covered cat box carrier” description not only is it picturesque it is almost poetic. However, I have found that all the trucks I have rented have had adequate carrying capacity for infinitesimally less cost than owning one. However, we all know that the vast majority of pickups are not purchased for their carrying capacity or utility

  • avatar
    deanst

    How is an FCA pickup any more American than a Camry or accord? For that matter, are accord, Camry and Altima buyers keeping things in the buy American crowd?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Good point FCA is not an American Company, it is incorporated in Amsterdam, Netherlands and its financial headquarters are in London, United Kingdom. The old Chrysler does not exist anymore. Toyota and Honda not only make their vehicles in the USA most of their content is USA. Only GM and Ford are based in the USA and the way both are going GM will eventually become Chinese and Ford if it survives will likely be bought out. Better to buy what you like and forget about whether a corporation is USA based.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    Why wouldn’t Ford survive? I guess all those F series truck sales will sink them.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    No the F series is about the only thing that might save Ford. Ford has been losing money rapidly.

    https://www.ccn.com/heres-why-ford-motor-company-still-cant-avoid-bankruptcy/

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I’d like to hear it from someone on a site whose name doesn’t stand for “CryptoCoinsNews,” thank you very much.

      especially when that guy contradicts himself in his own article. First he says:

      “Yet Ford Credit Company, the company’s financial arm, posted its best results in nine years. Profits jumped to $3 billion before taxes, meaning it’s responsible for 50% of Ford’s profits – up from 15 to 20% in the past.”

      then says:

      “The damning data released by the New York Fed showed that the volume of 90+ days delinquent loans had risen sharply.”

      then says:

      “Ford Motor Credit Company doesn’t lend to high-risk subprime borrowers. So, it doesn’t have a high delinquency rate.”

      Then says:

      “But Ford Motor’s increasing dependence on its financial arm is a cause for concern.”

      So, “cause for concern” == “bankruptcy is inevitable?”

      This guy is a one trick pony. he started from a conclusion and wedges a handful of loosely connected (or unconnected) things together to try to prove his “pre-conclusion” is correct.

      edit: more about this guy:

      “Ayush is a financial blogger and a swing trader. He has roughly four years of experience covering the U.S. stock market and has consistently featured on Tip Ranks’ list of top performing bloggers. He is based out of Indore, India and is also managing the portfolios of several local retail clients. You can follow him on Twitter @TraderBased or email him on [email protected]

      so a blogger who makes short term trades is now an “analyst.”
      wow.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Maybe so but he is not the only one concerned with Ford’s financial stability. I don’t want to see Ford fail but I am concerned about their long term viability and Hackett doesn’t seem to know or even care that much about the auto industry. Automobiles are not the same as office furniture.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Ford is essentially a “one product company” And those who think that the long term prospects for them are good as a stand-alone-company is kidding themselves.

    They are/will be ripe for a merger/acquisition.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Except what “little” Ford does, not many can do. Think about it. Regular cars/sedan/compacts, anyone can do.

      Ford can subcontract what they don’t do and aren’t any good at. What’s the big deal?

      In any other industry, that’s normally how it’s done. The guy that built your pool probably hires another company to do the electrical.

      He could be the world’s best pool guy and still sucks at electrical. The electrical guy could be the best in his field/area, but subs-out the underground, rough-ins and clean up.

      Now a VW or Nissan small/mid sedan with Ford badges? It would sell as fast as they could build them (in Mexico), but they’re not getting the Mustang or F-series in exchange. Or bronco. The Ranger? Maybe.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        By the way, if you have a few extra dollars lying around, now is a fantastic time to buy stock in Ford. It pays a nice dividend, and will appreciate very nicely when the current situation is over.
        And yes, I have put my money where my mouth is.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    True Ford could subcontract their cars out but the question is would they? Ford’s problems go much deeper than products their main problem is incompetent management starting with Hackett. Poor management can bring a company down quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Ford’s screw up have been blatant and should be obvious to fix, happening on the assembly line, development and production largely.

      Ford’s made by Nissan and Mazda have worked in the past and were better than the actual Fords they replaced, with The Probe a new product.

      One of the great things is Ford can shift liability to the cars maker, including buy-backs, recalls and warranty. Those have cost Ford billions of dollars in the last few years.

      Nissan and Mazda’s problems, for example, are much are harder to pinpoint. But building Ford’s smaller and compact cars/sedans could be a win/win.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Mazda and Ford did not end their venture on good terms so I would count Mazda out of any more ventures with Ford and besides that Mazda and Toyota are joint venture on a new plant and Mazda is making Yaris for Toyota (rebadged Mazda 3). As for Nissan I doubt Renault would let them do a venture with Ford. VW and Ford have established a venture so Ford could provide VW with a Ranger and VW could provide Ford with cars. I don’t see Ford reentering the subcompact and compact market anytime soon even with someone else making their cars.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      We’re going to see some strange collaborations and who would’ve imagined Toyota and BMW? VW is a given, but it could also be Ford partnering with a non US seller like Mahindra.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I bought my first pickup last fall (a Tacoma built in Texas). Recently, I brought home 15 bags of mulch, 10 bags of dirt, and several bags of fertilizer on the same trip. I use to use the trunk of a Civic for that stuff… I can’t believe it took me so long to buy one?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Next time find a materials year near you and buy in bulk. It will be a fraction of the cost of bagged product.

      Since I’m guessing you’ll use the mulch second have that loaded in the bed first. Then take your first tarp and place it over the mulch and over the sides of the bed. Now have them drop in the dirt, fold the tarp over and you are good to go. When you get home take your second tarp and spread it out under/in back of the truck.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Actually Ford partnering with Mahindra is not a bad idea. Mahindra could provide a version of their Jeep like vehicle to Ford that could be made compliant with US Regulations and would give Ford better access to the market in India. Mahindra could benefit with access to products like the Ranger and some of Ford’s vans.

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