FCA, Ford and General Motors combined the rest of the U.S. car industry in carrying heavy volume hits as a result of coronavirus-related shortages of both cars and customers. The saying goes that a rising tide lifts all boats; it stands to reason, then, a falling one would have the contrary impact.
However, as we heard Thursday, the automotive marketplace can act in unpredictable ways. GM's full-size trucks are now outselling Ford's again for the first time in years while the F-Series remained the nameplate in Q1 and using this upward thrust against the General, the Ram of FCA was booted out of a hard-earned second location.
While late-March sales declines hit pretty much every significant automaker in one way or another, the model-by-model results weren't nearly so uniform. And because the market tends to be a zero-sum match, for every winner, there normally needs to be a failure.
In this scenario, that winner has been GM, and its increase had to come at the expense of another automaker, in this case, Ford. The Ram lineup of FCA operated a 7 percent growth that was steady-as-she-goes.
All-in, GM completed the quarter with 197,743 full-size trucks offered to Ford's 186,562. Here's the complete breakdown:
- Ford F-Series: 186,562
- Chevrolet Silverado*: 144,734
- Ram P/U: 128,805
- GMC Sierra: 53,009
*comprises 1,036 Moderate Duty earnings
Matters really are a but murkier from the midsize segment, where the Chevy Colorado slipped 36 percent to just 21,430 units sold -- only a couple hundred better than the slow-selling Ford Ranger's Q1 figures. The GMC Canyon experienced a slide, finishing the quarter with units.
For perspective, Jeep sold more than 15,000 Gladiators and Toyota's midsize Tacoma decreased less than 8%, finishing the quarter with almost 54,000 sales.
We guess that this discrepancy in full- and - mid-size truck sales come from shifting incentives. Ford, GM, and FCA might like to maintain selling bigger trucks because there's far more profit margin. Even with tens of thousands of dollars in maker money on the hood, big trucks still earn money.
Considering these automakers report quarterly, we will not get another good look at those amounts until July, however, if you thought that 2019 represented the new standard for U.S. automobile sales, well, think again. 2020 is currently shaping up for a strange, dynamic, and potentially frightening year for America's auto industry.