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Is the Ford F-150 the Best Selling Vehicle in U.S.?


For years, auto enthusiasts have argued over whether or not the Ford F-150 is the best selling vehicle in the U.S. thanks to unclear sales reports from Ford. Now, using competitive data, we have a much clearer view of the top selling vehicle and the results are pretty surprising.

Ford has claimed dominance in the truck market for quite some time declaring this year as “43 straight years as America’s Best-Selling Pickup.” However, this has always come with an asterisk – F-Series. The F-Series really is the best selling pickup lineup and not the best selling pickup. This little nugget of clarification has caused a lot of heated discussions on social media and throughout the automotive press. While Ford could end this argument once and for all by releasing more detailed sales reports, they haven’t and have instead chosen to toe the line on the best selling pickup statement.

However, it seems Ford isn’t wrong in declaring they have the best selling pickup since we finally have the data to prove it.

Stay with us for a minute while we explain.

In 2019, we saw a few changes in how automakers shared their sales data with Ford, Ram and GM all deciding that monthly sales reports didn’t really reflect their business accurately. This is mostly true since holidays, disruptive weather and other factors can really make the sales numbers inflated or deflated artificially. Instead, they decided to report quarterly sales since this would be a better picture of their overall health as a company.

Fair enough. Then, something curious happened. GM decided it wasn’t just going to report their Silverado and Sierra numbers. No, they were going to break them down between LD (light duty) and HD (heavy duty) as well as MD (medium duty). This was quite a surprise and helps us not only see their truck business better, but also make assumptions about competitors.

Why? Well, Ford and GM both sell LD, HD and MD trucks and both boast a strong commercial business as well. In fact, talking with GM leadership, they feel they are equal to or better than Ford when it comes to the truck business. This is helpful for again making our estimates on the F-150.

Still with us? Good. Let’s first toss out MD sales from Chevy since Ford also classifies them as separate. Let’s also understand Chevy lists HD numbers as 2500 and 3500. Ford does about the same with F-Series including F-250, F-350 and F-450. Yes, sure Ford has one more truck listed than Chevy with the F-450, however, people who know trucks know it isn’t a big seller outright and we aren’t going to suggest it is going to tip the numbers that dramatically.

So, if you consider Chevy and Ford’s HD truck business about the same, we can draw some conclusions based on the percentage of HD truck sells GM has combined with Chevy and Sierra over the course of 2019 and looking back at 2018. Yes, GM broke them down for the prior year as well!

Doing the math, we can see HD trucks account for roughly 25 percent of the total volume of truck sales on a quaterly and yearly basis. If we apply that 25 percent to Ford F-Series sales as well as Ram sales, we get this handy chart (see below) and we come to the conclusion that yes, the Ford F-150 IS THE BEST SELLING VEHICLE in the U.S. Now, go ahead and use that as ammo with your buddies.

Ford F-150 Sales
2019 Q32018 Q32019 Q42018 Q42019 Year Total2018 Year Total
GM LD167,384135,941175,113177,712611,138602,112
GM HD52,66748,75654,93250,772191,824203,021
HD Percentage24%26.4%23.9%22.2%23.9%25.2%
HD Percentage25%25%25%25%25%25%
Estimated HD53,54456,97058,48857,578224,131227,332
Estimated LD160,632170,910175,464172,734671,395681,998
HD Percentage25%25%25%25%25%25%
Estimated HD40,40935,51143,14540,349165,924134,245
Estimated LD121,226106,533129,434121,048497,770402,735
Best Selling Vehicle in U.S.
Ford F-150671,396
GM Trucks 1500611,138
Ram 1500497,770
Toyota Rav4448,071
Honda CR-V384,168
Tim Esterdahl

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.

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1 Comment

  1. Ric January 7, 2020

    Ford will never post numbers that doesn’t place them in the No.1 spot. Since we are on the subject of assumptions, I don’t think Ford sells 75/25, I think it’s more like 60/40.


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