January 2019 Pickup Truck Sales: Hits and Misses


Although typically one of the slowest automotive sales months of the year, January numbers still tell us a few things. To start, some pickup trucks continued their momentum from 2018, while others showed they are in desperate need of revitalization.


In April 2018, GM stopped reporting vehicle sales monthly in favor of quarterly reports, providing numbers just four times a year. Ford has decided to do the same in 2019, so in January we had no numbers for either of those truckmakers. That means we have to wait for April Fool's Day to find out how well the new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2019 Ford Ranger are doing on dealer lots. The other manufacturers continue to report on a monthly basis, and as pessimistic as analysts are about 2019 vehicle sales overall, pickup truck sales continue to support the auto industry.

Ram's January numbers were quite good, up 19 percent over January 2018. We've been told by Ram insiders that the new 2019 Ram 1500, in particular, is up almost 30 percent over 2018. There's no question the half ton's new body and interior design is getting the attention of both first-time and trade-in buyers. Whether the not-new Ford F-150 or slow-selling Chevy Silverado 1500 can keep up without going too deep into incentive spending remains to be seen. Interestingly, both the aging Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan half tons struggled in January, so if those manufacturers fail to do something drastic to get attention, sales for these trucks for the full year do not look so good.

In the mid-size class, the Toyota Tacoma continues to be the top-selling pickup by a wide margin, averaging around 20,000 units per month for 2018. January slowed a bit for Tacoma, with just 16,852 trucks sold, essentially flat when compared the same time last year. Likewise, the Nissan Frontier was only up 2.7 percent compared to last year, selling just more than 6,000 units. Honda Ridgeline sales were down as well, selling just 1,962 units, a 6.8 percent decrease compared to last year.

Of course, many in the pickup market expect to see significant growth — and more aggressive competition — in the mid-size class as the 2019 Ford Ranger and 2020 Jeep Gladiator enter the market. However, we should note, that even if both of those new trucks sell 100,000 units by year end, the mid-size market will continue to be the smallest of the three pickup truck classes (half ton, heavy duty and mid-size).

We'll be watching February sales numbers closely.

More From photo by Christian Lantry; manufacturer images



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