The sales results are in for the 2019 4th Quarter and we now know who kicked butt in 2019 and who didn’t. Also, the leaderboard had a major shake up.
For years, the Big 3 have dominated the full-size truck market with Ford, Chevy then Ram placing 1, 2, 3 respectively. Then, 2019 happened and Ram took the coveted 2nd place spot from Chevy. This is a big shock in a segment not known for many sales shake ups.
|2019 Q4 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|
|Chevrolet Silverado |
|GMC Sierra |
|Mid-Size Truck Sales||Q4 Sales||Last Year Q4 Sales||Quarterly Change||Year to Date||Last Year to Date||Year Over Year Change|
On the one hand, you have to give it to Ram who’s new styling, powertrain and rush to market caught everyone by surprise in 2019. Their trucks have won a bounty of awards and delivering new trucks just a few months after unveiling them was unheard of. Also, they are continuing to build classic Ram 1500 trucks aka prior-gen half-ton trucks. This is a strategy others like Chevy have done over the years, but never as long as Ram has been doing it.
From Chevy’s standpoint, they are going to point to combined sales with GMC numbers as well as a 40-day strike holding up production. And they are going to point to selling more crew cab and higher trim level trucks than in year’s past making their margin and bottom line much healthier in year’s past. While it is true, combined GM trucks sales still best Rams by some 100k trucks and having a healthier bottom line is better than chasing volume, it still is a shock to loyal Chevy fans and one those fans want to see rectified in 2020.
Without a strike free year ahead of them, Chevy looks to close the gap with Ram and maybe overcome it. Critics will seize on the Chevy trucks looks and dated interior as reasons why that gap won’t close, while others will point to function over form. Ultimately, it is going to be an interesting year to see how consumers respond to the new GM truck lineup. So far, the results speak for themselves and they aren’t good looking back at quarter 3 and now quarter 4.
The Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan wrap up the full-size truck segment with mediocre to awful sales results. For Toyota, the aging Tundra is seeing a market that is increasingly putting a slew of new technologies, fancy interiors and fuel efficient powertrains, all things the current gen Tundra struggles to match. With a new Tundra on the horizon, we’d expect better results in 2020.
These same things plague the Titan which saw the bottom fall out of their truck sales. While we report quarterly sales results, it is worth mentioning the Titan sold just over 1,000 units in December. How you keep a truck profitable at that volume is a big concern for Nissan. With a new Titan hitting dealer lots in Q1 of 2020, the pressure is on Nissan to turn things around on their truck side in order to justify keep building a full-size truck. Selling just a thousand units a month simply doesn’t make financial sense to devote resources to the truck.
For the mid-size market, there are a few surprises as well and a few not surprises. The Tacoma continues to lead the way putting up an unheard of sales volume basically doubling the total amount of its nearest competitor (the Chevy Colorado).
The Ford Ranger finally had a good quarter and trounced the aging Colorado and Canyon combined. This momentum should help get management’s attention and spur them on to get a rumored new Ford Ranger to market faster.
For the GM mid-size twins, we expect to see some updates for 2021 and a new model to follow. This should help stem the losses to Ranger for a while.
The big surprise continues to be the low volume of the Jeep Gladiator with a pretty poor overall sales number. While Jeep keeps pushing the narrative that the Gladiator is more than a niche lifestyle vehicle, it is a real truck, the high entry price, unique look and the lifestyle nature of the truck seem to be hampering sales. With all the hoopla over its launch and social media explosion over this truck, it is pretty surprising to see just so-so sales.
Rounding out the bunch is the Nissan Frontier and the Honda Ridgeline which both continue to put up solid numbers in the mid-size market. The Frontier is well past its expiration date, yet the smaller size and cheap price continue to drive sale volume. This uniqueness is similar to the Ridgeline who’s “a truck for not a traditional truck buyer” vision continues to grow. While non-traditional truck buyers may make fun of it, consumers bought more Ridgeline pickups than the GMC Canyon and, frankly, the Jeep Gladiator didn’t do that much better.
As we look forward to 2020, the race for #1 will likely go once again to Ford with their considerable lead on volume (+262,832 units over Ram). However, Ram closed the gap by 100k units this year and they are on a roll. Chevy and GMC could also have something to say, if you combine their numbers, being just 90k units off the lead. GM has been playing around with their sales reporting for some time and adding a “GM Trucks” line on their spreadsheet could be a game changer.
On the mid-size race, expect Tacoma to win again with a battle over second between Ford and Chevy. We will also be watching closely for a new Frontier in 2020 and seeing how the Jeep Gladiator does for overall sales.
Next year should be a lot of fun to watch sales play out!