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 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.In 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 Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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