Pickup Truck Sales Breakdown: Third Quarter 2018


As car sales continue to struggle, pickup truck sales (especially full-size pickups) . Although analysts continue to predict a sales declines, it's beginning to look possible for 2018 to meet or exceed 2017 totals, with much of the credit falling to pickups and SUVs. Of course, just in case you haven't noticed, fuel prices are climbing and the much of the auto industry is tense about the U.S. imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum from China. And don't get us started on the issues with Canadian automotive production plants.

In the mid-size pickup class, the Toyota Tacoma continues to flex its muscles as it had a strong three-month stretch averaging more than 20,000 units per month. When looking at third quarter results, Toyota sold as many small pickups as the rest of the mid-size class combined. Likewise, when comparing 2017 Q3 numbers with 2018 Q3 numbers, we see that the mid-size class is growing slowly, largely due to the Tacoma's increased production numbers. In 2017, the mid-size class accounted for roughly 16 percent of total Q3 pickup truck sales; for 2018 Q3, mid-sizers accounted for 18.5 percent. We're guessing the mid-size sales numbers will continue to grow in 2019 with the advent of a new 2019 Ford Ranger and in 2020, when we expect a new  and possibly Hyundai and pickups.

The Ford F-Series continues to dominate the full-size pickup class, leading in both the half-ton and heavy-duty categories. However, when looking at all pickup truck sales, GM's four-truck strategy — mid-size, half ton, three-quarter ton and one ton — across two brands — Chevrolet and GMC — seems to be making the difference. There's no question that Ford's returning Ranger will have an impact on sales, but by how much? It wouldn't surprise us to see something close to or just more than 100,000 units in its first full year, which would give Ford the undisputed lead in pickup sales. Even now, with just three trucks — the F-150, F-250 and F-350 — to GM's eight, Ford is trailing GM by less than 30,000 units. Surely Ford can sell that many Rangers in 2019, even without the possible arrival of the .

If the last quarter of 2018 is anything like the last quarter from the last five years, 2018 could be a big year for all the big truckmakers. As it stands through September, pickup sales numbers are up almost 2 percent compared to 2017, and with just a few well-placed incentives or year-end sales events to fan the spread of pickup truck fever, the numbers could go much higher. How long it will last is another question entirely.

Editor's Note: This story was updated Oct. 8, 2018, to correct the full-size pickup third quarter chart. photos by Evan Sears; Christian Lantry; Mark Williams






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