Full-size Truck War Update: Ram Fills Ford's Rear-view in 2019
With full-year sales stats now available from each of the Detroit Three, we can see how the leaders in the critically important full-size pickup segment faired in the eventful year of 2019.
And it was an eventful year, what with new full-sizers on offer from Ram, Chevrolet, and GMC, and revamped Heavy Dutys from both Ram and GM entering the fray. (GM’s big guys landed for the 2020 model year, with Ford’s redesigned 2020 Super Duty series arriving shortly after the launch of its Detroit rival.)
It’s no secret that Ram did well last year, but how did it stack up next to the perennial front-runner?
Is the Aluminum F-Series Still 'Built Ford Tough?'
Listen, we’re not going to pretend that Ford’s F-Series is bulletproof. There have been enough recalls of the twelfth-generation’s transmission for us to immediately be accused of being the biggest and fattest of lairs were we to make that claim. However, as America’s best-selling model and an exceptionally popular fleet vehicle, it’s in the company’s best interest to make sure the F-150 is not a turd.
Ford took a risk when it went with an aluminum body for the current-gen model, inviting claims from rival manufacturers that it was no longer a serious contender in the pickup market, as real trucks have steel beds. While Chevrolet’s advertorial “ testing procedures” often fell outside the boundaries of what a rational truck owner would do, Ford’s rival was attempting to creating a narrative where saying something was “built Ford tough” could be a considered an insult.
Ford Raptor Rumored to Receive Supercharged V8
With the current Ford F-150 having been with us since 2015, the manufacturer has to start getting serious about its replacement. However, before the fourteenth generation of the F-Series arrives, Ford needs to make sure the public hasn’t tuned out on the current model. Automakers frequently release special edition models late in a product’s lifespan to do just that. While the F-150 doesn’t need much help, what with being America’s best-selling automobile for decades, it will get the same treatment.
However, unlike the bevy of appearance packages that are currently clogging up the industry, Ford is rumored to have something more meaningful planned for the full-sized pickup. Rather than simply updating the graphics or incorporating a new suspension setup, Ford apparently wants to wedge the 5.2-liter supercharged V8 from the Shelby GT500 into the Raptor — thereby giving it a proper sendoff.
Ford's F-Series - A Cross-border Comparo
In a market that shrunk 3.7 percent in July, Ford managed to escape the steep volume loss seen by some of its rivals. Still, the Ford brand saw a year-over-year U.S. sales drop of 2.7 percent last month, with its Lincoln division falling 11 percent. Over the first seven months of 2018, both brands posted a loss — 1.6 percent for Ford, 10.8 percent for Lincoln.
For the Blue Oval, at least, that’s in line with forecasters’ estimates of a slow industry decline in 2018. Lincoln’s another matter.
A peek at Ford’s sales figures shows why Dearborn hasn’t much love for cars. Minus the Fiesta, which you won’t have to worry about much longer, every other Ford passenger car model declined in both July and 2018 (with the niche exception of the GT). Try as they might, Ford’s truck sales couldn’t replace the lost passenger car volume, but they certainly dumped more cash in Ford coffers — on average — for each model sold.
It’s become a safe bet that no matter how Ford Motor Company fares at sales time, the F-Series will do just fine.
Shocked? Ford's F-Series on Track for a Record Year
Future archeologists will recognize this period in man’s history by the thick layer of Ford F-150s covering the entire planet, pointing to an era where one vehicle could seemingly do no wrong.
As the world’s best-selling vehicle line for what seems like forever, the F-Series’ sales performance over the first half of 2018 points to an impending record for the hard-working and increasingly plush lineup. Ford can be expected to push for it.
Ford Raptor Upgrades Hardware for 2019 Model Year
Ford’s F-150 Raptor is one of the meanest off-roaders you can purchase from the factory and, for the 2019 model year, the automaker’s doing its part to further improve its trail worthiness. Instead of going for visual upgrades that might tempt impulsive shoppers, Ford is sticking with hardware and technology.
The 2019 Raptor will receive upgraded shocks, Recaro sport seats, and a new Trail Control system that allows the pickup to cruise through seriously rugged terrain at low speeds — allowing the driver to focus on steering, instead of maintaining momentum and traction. According to the manufacturer, the system automatically adjusts power and braking to each individual wheel and is functional up to speeds of 20 mph. It also works for hill ascent and descent, even on craggy landscapes.
February 2018 Truck Sales: Healthy Volume Doesn't Always Make for a Happy Automaker
As we told you earlier this afternoon, two of the Detroit Three automakers posted significant year-over-year U.S. sales decreases last month. Ford Motor Company and General Motors both saw American sales volume sink by 6.9 percent. While passenger cars both low-end and premium can usually take the blame for any sales decrease, general wisdom says buyers will gravitate in equal numbers towards SUVs, crossovers, and trucks, cancelling out most, if not all, of the sales exodus.
This isn’t always true. In February’s case, Ford can lay some of the blame at the foot of its best-selling crossover, while GM can finger its full-size truck lineup. Ford Escape sales sank 23.9 percent in February, year over year — a loss making up roughly three-quarters of Ford’s missing vehicles. As customers await new versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, the aged models brought in fewer buyers than the same month in 2017 — 16.3 and 25.3 percent less, respectively. Like Ford, that’s roughly three-quarters of GM’s missing February volume.
A 15 percent year-over-year decline at the Ram brand — itself awaiting a new half-ton — brings home the importance of pickups in 2018.
Lawsuit Claims Ford 'Rigged' Its Diesel Truck Engines
Are you an automaker that’s currently producing, or has ever produced, a diesel engine? If so, the odds are pretty good you’ll eventually be sued over its existence. A new lawsuit by truck owners, filed on Wednesday, alleges Ford Motor Company installed emissions-cheating software in F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks — built between 2011 and 2017 — to ensure they passed federal testing.
At this point, all of the Detroit Three manufacturers have been accused of some form of diesel deceit. Which makes us wonder how warranted these lawsuits are. Volkswagen’s scandal started when an independent source tipped off U.S. regulatory agencies, but these truck cases frequently begin as class-action suits on somewhat specious grounds.
Blatant Truism: Americans and Automakers Still Love the Pickup Truck
In case you’ve just exited a 60-year coma or immigrated to this country without any prior knowledge of it, Americans have a fondness for pickup trucks. So do automotive manufacturers. Last month, the average selling price for full-size pickups was $47,393. For General Motors, that translates to about $11,000 in profit for each truck sold — but the ceiling is even higher. Two years ago, Ford was rumored to be making $13,000 on each F-Series sold and its domestic competitors weren’t far behind.
Meanwhile, the average haul for an SUV or crossover isn’t likely to surpass $2,000 on its very best days and car profitability is typically even lower ( unless you’re Porsche). That’s why “Truck Month” seems to take place five times a year. It’s also why domestic manufactures are going to ensure pickups “dominate” the 2018 North American International Auto Show. Of course, was there ever a year when Detroit’s automotive trade show wasn’t at least partially overrun with trucks?
Truck Buyers Made a Choice in October (and Chose the Bigger One)
So diverse are the trim levels available in a modern pickup truck, it wouldn’t be shocking to see automakers begin offering a “Scotsman” edition, complete with three-on-the-tree shifter, for buyers accustomed to eating beans out of a can. On the other end of the ladder, surely “Limited,” “Platinum,” and “Tungsten” fall short in the luxury trappings offered within their leather-trimmed cabins. Buyers clearly need a wood-panelled humidor for their stogies.
Suffice it to say that automakers are making the purchase of a pickup truck more appealing than ever, and in October, buyers did their duty. October 2017 was a boffo month for light truck sales, with every full-size truck line recording rising year-over-year sales in the United States. Unfortunately, but not all that unfortunately (according to accountants, anyway), buyers offered a raised middle finger to mid-size pickups sold by those same automakers.
September 2017 Was a Terrific Month For Pickup Truck Sales in America
September 2017 sales of pickup trucks rose to the highest level so far this year in the United States, jumping 12 percent to 257,864 units.
Prior to this point, truck sales had grown by less than 4 percent, year-over-year, averaging slightly more than 225,000 monthly units.
September’s big gain was fuelled almost entirely by improvements among the full-size pickup trucks that own 84 percent of America’s pickup truck market. And America’s full-size pickup truck gains were powered in large part by America’s best-selling line of vehicles: the Ford F-Series.
Seemingly Every Automotive Headline Includes Electric This or That, but What's the State of Electric Vehicle Market Share in America?
You can forget the GM EV1 and the Toyota RAV4 EV. The car that truly attempted to bring electric cars into the mainstream was the 2011 Nissan Leaf.
It didn’t. U.S. Leaf sales, never reaching any great heights, plunged after its fourth full model year, falling by more than half between 2014 and 2016.
There’s a thoroughly updated second-gen Nissan Leaf on its way, destined to hit U.S. dealers early in 2018. But during the first-gen Leaf’s tenure, the Nissan was joined by a broad array of electric cars, from a handful of Teslas to the Chevrolet Bolt, Volkswagen e-Golf, Kia Soul EV, BMW i3, and Hyundai Ioniq, and all of these cars together have combined to quintuple U.S. electric vehicle market share over the last half-decade.
Only 0.1 percent of the new vehicles sold in America in 2012 were pure EVs. That figure has risen, very slowly, to 0.5 percent through the first eight months of 2017 while the number of available nameplates has more than doubled.
Perspective? Ford grew its F-Series’ share of the overall U.S. new vehicle market from 4.5 percent to 5.1 percent during the same period.
Despite Sharp Midsize Truck Decline, U.S. Pickup Truck Sales Rose 4 Percent in August 2017
Noteworthy 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 World's 20 Best-Selling Vehicles in 2017's First Half
The Ford F-Series was the planet’s best-selling line of new vehicles in the first half of 2017. Boosted by a 9-percent year-over-year global sales increase, the broad F-Series range produced 519,000 total sales in 2017’s first six months, according to JATO Dynamics, about 47,000 more sales than the second-ranked Toyota Corolla.
The F-Series wasn’t the only pickup truck on the list of Earth’s 20 most popular vehicles in 2017, to date. FCA’s Ram P/U lineup ranked 11th and the Chevrolet Silverado grabbed the 15th position. The United States market, on its own, accounts for the overwhelming majority of global sales generated by these full-size pickup families: more than 80 percent for the F-Series, just under 80 percent for the Ram, and nearly 90 percent for the Silverado.
Utility vehicles, meanwhile, earned seven of the top 20 positions. And while seven of the nine cars sold less often in the first half of 2017 than in the equivalent period in 2016, six of the seven crossovers reported year-over-year improvements.
Ford Announces Improved Hauling and Long Haul Economy for the 2018 F-150
As promised, Ford is updating the engine lineup in the company’s best-selling F-150 for the 2018 model year, providing improved fuel economy and maximum towing capacity across the board.
While it’s always a good idea to hold out a bit of skepticism until review time, Ford previously low-balled its economy estimates for the F-Series — as such, we’re working with some previously existing good faith.
News has been trickling out regarding Ford’s upcoming styling tweaks, advanced safety tech, and a powerful new diesel engine for the 2018 model. We also knew the F-150’s gas engines would be getting upgraded specs and, while some alterations are minor, there are a few big numbers worth disclosing.
And they have little to do with the 5.0-liter V8.