2020 U.S. truck sales results are in! Ford wins, GM surprises, others falter?
While the media criticized its look, consumers bought the heck out of the Chevy HD trucks. (Photo courtesy Chevrolet)
After a virus-plagued year sent every automaker scrambling to supply dealers, the final tally is in on the 2020 U.S. truck sales year. Ford takes home the top spot once again, while GM surprises, and the other brands lose ground.
Full-size 2020 U.S. truck sales
If there was one bright spot from the virus, it was how it has changed many lifestyles and their vehicle needs. Fore example, many people switched from long commutes to spending more time in nature, and that’s a big win in our book. However, this also meant their compact cars needed to be swapped out for something larger and the truck market has never been hotter — especially for full-size and heavy-duty trucks.
Heck, I get it. I bought a 2021 Ford F-150 Powerboost before the year ended to do more camping this next year and comparison tests for the channel!
Overall, the truck market was up almost 2% with 2.9 million trucks sold against 2.85 million sold last year. This is quite an accomplishment — even with dealers having a lack of inventory.
|2020 Q3 Pickup Sales|
|Full-Size Truck Sales||Q4 Sales||Last Year Q4 Sales||Quarterly Change||Year to Date||Last Year to Date||Year Over Year Change|
|Chevy Silverado |
|GMC Sierra |
|Midsize Truck Sales||Q4 Sales||Last Year Q4 Sales||Quarterly Change||Year to Date||Last Year to Date||Year Over Year Change|
Ford again leads the way with their F-series lineup (F-150, 250, 350 and 450) selling a combined total of 787,422 trucks. In other terms, that’s nearly 90 trucks an hour being driven off Ford lots!
Second place is the Chevy Silverado, which saw an increase year over year. Yes, an increase! GM breaks down the Silverado into light-duty aka 1500 models and heavy-duty trucks 2500 and 3500 models. If GM combined their GMC numbers they would be in first and until they do so, we keep them separate.
Ram comes in third with a pretty down year overall. However, the 4th quarter saw a big jump in sales volume year over year. And with plant capacity hopefully getting back to 100% next year, don’t count them out making another run at the number 2 spot.
GMC comes in next and the number of heavy-duty trucks is quite impressive. This reinforces the idea GMC has turned into a premium brand and people go to them for the Denali especially in the heavy-duty truck variety.
Coming in 4th is the Toyota Tundra. With a new model on the way and their plant in Texas being hit hard by COVID-19, it is no surprise to see they were down year over year. Like Ram, though, they had a good 4th quarter, and all eyes are on them next year for their new truck unveiling.
Wrapping up the list is the Nissan Titan, which simply struggled. The automaker is going through a lot of change and transition, causing all sorts of issues, and the Titan is likely getting caught up in the change. The 2020 model year change has been received as a lukewarm upgrade by the press, and the sales are way down year over year. Maybe, like Ram and Toyota, their 4th quarter showing will be a precursor to a bigger 2021.
U.S. midsize truck sales
The Toyota Tacoma once again dominates the U.S. mid-size truck market. (Photo courtesy Toyota)
On the midsize truck side of things, the Toyota Tacoma still dominates, and it had a massive 4th quarter. With production shifted to Mexico, instead of being constrained in San Antonio, Texas, we are witnessing a big change in the overall volume of Tacoma trucks Toyota can produce. It is going to be interesting to watch next year to see how the numbers play out with more capacity.
The Tacoma is followed closely by the Ford Ranger and Chevy Colorado. These two trucks are in a dogfight for the second spot. A newly refreshed Chevy Colorado is out for 2021, and we are hearing a refreshed Ford Ranger might in the future as well as a new Ford Maverick compact truck. It looks like Ford is seeing a lot of growth potential in the midsize truck market and we will have to see what Chevy does to respond to this competition.
Coming in third is the Jeep Gladiator with a pretty big boost year over year. Like we said above, more people are getting out, exploring nature, and the Jeep Gladiator is reaping the rewards. This is the first full year of Jeep Gladiator sales, so its a little hard to see them duplicating their 94% increase result after the lower sales from 2019, but hey, we wouldn’t put it past them.
The Nissan Frontier comes in 4th and, like the Titan, had a disastrous year sales-wise. A new Frontier is supposedly coming out in the first-half of 2021, and it can’t come soon enough.
Rounding out the list is the Honda Ridgeline. It continues to plug away at growing sales and with a refresh for 2021, we could see it continue to grow. However, it might never be a big player in the segment, and that’s by design.
The bottom line
While the virus-plagued year is thankfully finally over, the 2021 sales year is just getting going. I expect to see some big year-over-year growth with plants getting back to capacity, another round of stimulus checks coming out and new models from a few of the automakers.
This could be a big bounce-back year for everyone.
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Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.
Update: Added Ford F-Series sales figures to the article.
It's safe to say that 2020 wasn't a prosperous year, especially within the automotive industry where vehicle sales weren't as good as they used to be. Then again, the whole economy still soldiered on and delivered. We've already received the sales numbers for America's favorite body style: trucks.
Note that the numbers here include all forms of full-size trucks, half-ton and heavy-duty. We have the 2020 numbers for all major players, and there are no surprises when it comes to first and last place. The Ford F-Series continues to rule the American roads while the Nissan Titan's death watch continues. There are some interesting trends when you look at the stats a bit deeper, so let's jump in with both feet.
The runner-up spot in the truck war is by far the closest and most interesting challenge. While things aren't going well for Chevrolet in terms of pony car sales numbers, it's a different case in the truck segment. The Chevy Silverado upends Ram by the end of the year, selling 594,094 units versus Ram's 562,676 units delivered, giving the second-place truck sales crown to the Golden Bow Tie brand.
Another GM brand is in fourth place with GMC moving 253,016 Sierras before entering 2021. Japanese full-size trucks conclude the list at fifth and sixth spots, with the Tundra selling 109,203 units and the Titan moving a measly 26,439 units. Meanwhile, Ford kicked everyone's tail by selling 787,422 F-Series trucks, a gap of just under 200,000 trucks to second-place Chevy.
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Here's where the interesting deep dive comes in. Among the trucks mentioned here, those from GM were the only ones posting a sales increase when compared to numbers from 2019. The Silverado registered a 3.2 percent year-over-year gain, while the Sierra recorded an impressive 8.9 percent sales hike. Both Ram and Ford saw declines, with Ford seeing the biggest drop from Detroit automakers at 12.2 percent despite launching a new F-150 later in the year. Ram sales dropped 11 percent, so the Blue Oval's decline is comparable at least.
As for Japanese brands, Toyota only suffered a two-percent drop with the Tundra, though its market share in the full-size pickup realm is still exceptionally small. It's not as small as Nissan's slice, which grew even smaller with a 16.1 percent year-over-year decline on the Titan.
Chevrolet and Ram have battled closely for second place ever since the current-generation Ram 1500 debuted a couple of years ago, though both brands have closed the gap to Ford. With the Blue Oval reporting high demand for the new F-150, it will be interesting to see how 2021 sales play out.
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GM takes 2020 full-size pickup sales crown
It's no secret that 2020 was an unconventional year for auto sales. Extenuating circumstances or not, it was a year of upheaval even for ever-resilient (and ever-profitable) pickups, with General Motors taking the crown from Ford in the full-size segment.
The Ford F-Series still outsold every other full-size pickup nameplate in the country by a significant margin. It's only when you combine GM's Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra variants that you get a number that exceeds Ford's. This isn't really a new phenomenon, either. In fact, it was only somewhat recently that Ford took the overall full-size crown away from GM, and not only did Ford widen the gap in recent years, but Ram has once again become a legitimate challenger, even managing to outsell the Silverado by a healthy margin in 2019, but never coming close to the F-Series in terms of total volume.
But, 2020 being 2020, things got weird yet again. Ram remains relevant, of course, but Ford got caught with its pants down thanks to the one-two punch of COVID and the generational changeover of the core F-150 model, which resulted in a production interruption as the company's assembly facilities transitioned from building the old 2020 model to the new-for-2021. This perfect storm, as it turns out, was sufficient for GM to walk away with the full-size crown. See for yourself:
Full-size 2020 pickup sales:
- GM total: 847,110
- F-Series: 787,422
- Silverado: 594,094
- Ram: 563,676
- Sierra: 253,016
- Tundra: 109,203
- Titan: 26,439
As you can see, Ram slipped back behind Silverado, slotting comfortably into third place. The Silverado 1500 had a flat year, but the heavy- and medium-duty variants bucked the trend and contributed to a slight uptick in sales for the nameplate, while F-Series tumbled more than 12% (nearly 110,000 units), opening the door for GM to steam ahead.
There were similarly significant shakeups in the midsize truck segment. First, 2020 was the first full year of retail sales for the Gladiator pickup, which surged to fourth place behind the stalwart Tacoma, Ranger and Colorado. GM's combined sales of the Colorado and Canyon are good enough for second place by manufacturer, but nowhere close to what it would take to dethrone Toyota. Jeep's immediate impact on this segment is clear, and even if its volumes don't end up matching those of the Colorado or Ranger, it's obviously going to be a relevant player going forward.
- Tacoma: 238,806
- GM total: 121,248
- Ranger: 101,486
- Colorado: 96,238
- Gladiator: 77,542
- Frontier: 36,845
- Ridgeline: 32,168
- Canyon: 25,190
With production of the 2021 F-150 in full swing, we expect Ford to make a play for the No. 1 spot again this year, and the Blue Oval has more tricks up its sleeve for its bread-and-butter half-ton, with a new Tremor model arriving and the Raptor on the horizon.
GMC Sierra 1500 Information
As Autos Sales Fall, Shoppers Snap Up Pickup Trucks
Even as auto sales plunged by double digits because of the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, U.S. car buyers continued to show their allegiance to pickup trucks.
Shoppers snapped up nearly 3 million full- and midsize pickup trucks in 2020. Although that’s a 5.8% drop compared with 2019, it’s smaller than the 17% plunge in new car sales last year.
Pickup trucks now account for 20.1% of the new car market, up from 18.3% in 2019, according to sales data from Motor Intelligence.
New Trucks are Nicer, More Livable
A combination of style and technical improvements are pushing consumers into trucks. “The interior space and amenities are highly attractive to consumers,” said Tyson Jominy, vice president, data and analytics at J.D. Power. “Moving over from an SUV or down from a luxury car, consumers give up nothing in terms of creature comforts.”
Buyers are looking at trucks as comfortable transport, not just work vehicles.
Once consumers expected their trucks to present a work-ready image, said Stephanie Brinley, an analyst for research firm IHS Markit. “That time is long past; today’s truck buyers are comfortable with vehicle technology and demand that it be in their trucks as well. Automakers have responded, and everyone is happy,” Brinley said.
Advanced driver assistance systems such a blind-spot alerts and rear cross-traffic warnings combined with myriad camera views make big trucks easier to drive and park. That has grown the pool of potential buyers.
And many of the new truck offerings don’t carry as significant a fuel penalty as their prior generations or even family sedans. The 2021 F-150 Powerboost Hybrid, for example, has an EPA fuel-efficiency rating of 24 mpg. That’s better than the six-cylinder 2020 Toyota Camry.
Upcoming electric trucks, including the GMC Hummer EV, Rivian R1T and Tesla Cybertruck, are likely to increase interest, although they could also cannibalize sales of gasoline pickups, the analysts said.
IHS Markit forecasts U.S. pickup truck sales will continue at about 20% of the market for the next several years.
Jominy said he thinks there is still room for growth.
“On top of significant inventory challenges in 2020 driven by coronavirus plant shutdowns and a slow manufacturing rebound, the top-selling vehicle in the industry, F-150, is still ramping up to the new generation. Combined with lower gasoline prices and optimism from vaccine rollout, consumers should continue gravitating toward pickups,” he said.
General Motors also is looking for improvement in the economy, which is typically good for truck sales.
“Widening vaccination rates and warmer weather should enable consumers and businesses to return to a more normal range of activities, lifting the job market, consumer sentiment and auto demand,” said Elaine Buckberg, GM’s chief economist.
Still, there is an upper end to truck sales, Jominy said. “They are not practical for all consumers, especially in crowded areas of the country.”
The most populous states, New York, California and Florida, are all in the top 5 worst markets for pickup mix. Pickups account for about 10% of sales in New York, half the national average, according to J.D. Power. California and Florida are only slightly higher, with trucks making up a 14% share of sales.
And the places that love pickups the most, the prairie and great plains states, are the least populous and most likely tapped out.
“The industry would be hard-pressed to get more than 39% of North Dakotans to get into trucks, the No. 1 state in the nation for pickup mix,” Jominy said.
Full-size Truck Sales
In 2020, GMs showed its muscle in the full-size truck market, owning the only brands that experienced sales increases. Sales of the Detroit automaker’s flagship Chevrolet Silverado rose 2.8% to 586,675 trucks compared with the prior year, according to Motor Intelligence. GMC Sierra sales jumped 8.9% to 253,016, helped by its Denali and AT4 sub-brands.
Those gains aided GM to sell 839,691 full-size pickups last year for a 36.1% share of the market.
Ford came in second as sales slowed for the outgoing model of its F-150 pickup truck. The Dearborn, Mich., automaker sold 787,422 F-Series pickups last year, a 12.2% decline from the prior year. Its share of the market dipped below GM to 33.8%. Ford just launched a complete redesign of its F-150 and will likely see sales pick up this year.
The Ram division of FiatChrysler Automobiles also experienced a large decline. Sales fell 11% to 563,676. After beating out the Chevrolet Silverado to rank second in pickup sales last year, Ram is back in its traditional third-place position.
Sales of Toyota’s Tundra slid 2.2% to 109,203 in 2020. But Toyota is expected to launch a redesign of what is by far the oldest truck in the market later this year, Brinley said. Although it has received some upgrades, the current version of the Tundra debuted in 2007.
Nissan has failed to get much traction with its Titan despite recent mid-cycle improvements to the vehicle. It sold just 26,439 Titans last year, down 16.1% from the prior year.
Overall the full-size pickup truck segment slid 6.1%, about a third of the overall auto market.
Midsize Truck Sales
Sales positions in the midsize pickup market were almost the opposite of what occurred with bigger trucks.
Although sales dipped 4% to 238,806, Toyota dominated the midsize market with its perennially popular Tacoma, outselling its closest competitor by more than two to one. The Tacoma captured 39.3% of the market.
While it was second with sales of 101,486, Ford moved 13.3% more Rangers than in 2019. It also beat out the Chevrolet Colorado for the first time since the Ranger’s relaunch in the 2019 model year.
The Colorado’s sales dipped 21.3% to 96,238. Sales of its GMC Canyon sibling fell by 23.3% to 25,190.
Jeep, also owned by FCA, had a great year selling pickups. It sold 77,542 Gladiators, a 93.7% gain from its debut year in 2019.
Nissan’s Frontier continues to slide, with sales falling 49.1% to 36,845. Nissan plans to replace the current model that first hit the market in 2005, later this year.
Honda continues to rack up steady, if not stellar, sales with its Ridgeline, selling 32,168 last year, a 3.5% decline from the prior year.
A nationally known editor and writer with long tenure at some of the nation’s largest news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times. He is a noted expert in the car-buying process and has covered many facets of the automotive industry, including autonomous technology, alternative fuel vehicles and safety issues. He is the former editor of Trucks.com. Jerry currently writes for Forbes, Transport Topics and other publications.
Published: Jan 6, 2021Sours: https://www.forbes.com/wheels/news/shoppers-snap-up-pickup-trucks/
Truck 2020 sales size full
Pickup trucks dominate America's 10 best-selling vehicles of 2020
Look no further than the automotive industry's best-selling vehicles of last year as proof of America's love for pickup trucks.
Led by trucks from the Detroit automakers, pickups accounted for five of the industry's 10 best-selling vehicles in 2020 despite their increasingly higher prices and the coronavirus pandemic.
Ford Motor's F-Series truck retained its decades-long sales dominance, followed by pickups from General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. The three top-selling pickups accounted for about 13% of the 14.5 million vehicles estimated to have been sold last year in the U.S.
"Pickup trucks have been very successful. They have marched through this pandemic so well," Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights for auto research firm Edmunds, told CNBC. "They have boosted up all of their respective companies. Particularly the Detroit companies, they have kept business afloat fairly well."
As sales to commercial and other fleet customers came to a grinding halt during the coronavirus pandemic, automakers touted retail consumers purchasing pickups as quickly as they could produce them in 2020. The companies are still attempting to resupply inventories following a roughly two-month shutdown of their North American plants last spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"It was astonishing. It was like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. I think the automakers were magicians basically in selling trucks this year," said Jeff Schuster, LMC Automotive president of the Americas. "It was a remarkable year for trucks."
Ford's F-Series, which includes the F-150 and its larger siblings, remained America's best-selling vehicle for the 39thstraight year and the industry's top-selling truck for the 44th consecutive year. GM's Chevrolet Silverado regained its silver medal position after dropping to third in 2019 behind Fiat Chrysler's Ram pickup.
Newcomers to the 10 best-selling vehicles last year included GM's GMC Sierra as well as the Toyota Tacoma, which outsold the Toyota Corolla compact car. Falling off the sales leaderboard compared to 2019 were the Corolla and Nissan Rogue, which ranked sixth in 2019.
Here's the full list of America's 10 best-selling vehicles in 2020:
1. Ford F-Series (Sales of 787,422 units, down 12.2% compared to 2019)
2. Chevrolet Silverado (594,094, up 3.2%)
3. Ram pickup (563,676, down 11%)
4. Toyota RAV4 (430,387, down 3.9%)
5. Honda CR-V (333,502, down 13.2%)
6. Toyota Camry (294,348, down 12.7%)
7. Chevrolet Equinox (270,994, down 21.7%)
8. Honda Civic (261,225, down 19.8%)
9. GMC Sierra (253,016, up 8.9%)
10. Toyota Tacoma (238,806, down 4%)
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2020 was a tough year, but truck makers fared better than most.
As the 2020 sales report figures roll in, we get a much clearer picture how this year truly shook out for truck manufacturers. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, sales obviously slowed compared to 2019. That said, as they picked up again through the summer and into the fall, trucks helped bring most automakers back from an abysmal start to the year.
That headline more or less mirrors what we saw in earlier quarters. With a couple notable exceptions, truck sales held steady or actually increased from the pervious year. The Jeep Gladiator, for example, performed substantially better than you might expect. As of January 5, we’re still waiting for results from Ford. . Update 1/6/21: Actually, that didn’t happen. Combined, GM trucks actually outsold the Ford F-Series, though Ford’s trucks (if you look at it as a single model) outsold the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra’s individual sales figures. It will be an interesting fight, though, to see how the Ranger fared against the all-conquering Tacoma and the rising Gladiator.
Midsize truck sales: Full-year 2020
|Model||2020 sales||2019 sales||Change (%)|
Full-size truck sales: Full-year 2020
|Model||2020 sales||2019 sales||Change (%)|
|GM Trucks (COMBINED)||847,010||817,923||+3.6%|
|-> Silverado 1500||436,281||438,686||-0.5%|
|-> Silverado HD||150,394||131,953||+14.0%|
|-> Silverado MD (4500-6500)||7,419||4,961||+49.5%|
|-> Sierra 1500||179,139||172,452||+3.9%|
|-> Sierra HD||73,777||59,871||+23.2%|
Update: An earlier version of the full-size truck charts included the Ram brand numbers (including vans), rather than just pick-ups. That was a clerical error going over the charts. We apologize for the confusion.
Full-size SUV sales: Full-year 2020
|Model||2020 sales||2019 sales||Change (%)|
|Toyota Land Cruisers||3,147||3,536||-11.0%|
Update: An earlier version of this chart left off the GMC Yukon. Again, that was a clerical error. We apologize for any further confusion.
Zach Butler is the Managing Editor for TFLcar.