Pickup Sales Take the Top 3 Spots in US Car Sales

Chris Lange

Pickup trucks are the vehicle of choice for the blue-collar man, with their origins in humble beginnings, just used primarily as work vehicles. It didn’t happen until the 1950s that consumers started to buy pickups for lifestyle choices. But over half a century after that lowly beginning, the pickup truck is now the top-selling vehicle in the United States.

Domestically, the three top-selling vehicles for the month of January are all trucks. The Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) F-Series took the number one spot, with nearly 60,000 vehicles sold last month. Chevrolet Silverado from General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) sold 35,553 vehicles and the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) Dodge Ram sold 33,769 vehicles. The next highest selling vehicle only moved around 29,000 for the month.

Perhaps the pickup segment is one of the most profitable within the automotive industry. In particular this segment has given carmakers room to offer deals and motivation to make market share grabs.

At the same time, fierce brand loyalty among truck owners means that automakers have to offer bigger deals to entice them to switch models. The rise in incentive activity also reflects the U.S. auto market slowing down following a seven-year streak of expansion.

Although GM now has a top-selling vehicle, the company lost sales ground in 2016. Deliveries dropped 4.3% for the Silverado and 1.1% for the Sierra last year. The F-Series continued to prosper and gained 5.2% to seal a 35th straight year as the top-selling vehicle line in the United States, and Ram pickup sales rose 8.7%.

How is GM going to combat this pressure? The largest U.S. automaker is responding with its latest incentives, in particular deep discounting, according to Jim Cain, GM spokesman.

GM is spending 26% more in discounts on each Silverado truck than Fiat Chrysler does for its Ram and 85% more than Ford does on its F-Series, according to the Power Information Network data, which J.D. Power doesn’t release to the public.

Shares of Ford were trading up 1% at $12.59 on Monday. The stock has a 52-week trading range of $11.07 to $14.22.

Fiat Chrysler shares were last seen up 2.4% at $11.05, with a 52-week range of $5.45 to $11.63 and a consensus analyst price target of $15.21.

GM was up 1% at $37.26, with a consensus analyst target of $39.38 and a 52-week range of $27.34 to $38.38.