February 2008 Truck Sales Aren't Pretty
By: Mike Levine Posted: 03-03-08 15:19 PT
© 2008 PickupTruck.com

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Update #1: 03-10-08 11:49 PT

Ford truck communications spokesperson Becky Sanch tells PickupTruck.com that the company attributes the Ranger's sales spike to targeted regional incentives in markets where the Ranger has been popular.

In a related press release from Ford, Brian Rathsburg, the F-Series marketing manager, said adding an extra $1,000 incentive on Ranger in selected markets for the last three weeks in January produced the double-digit jump in sales.

"Had we not spent that, we might not have gotten those sales. That made those trucks more attractive," he said.

A slowing economy continues to take its toll on US truck sales. Total year-to-date sales volume fell 9.2% from the same period last year for the nation's Top 10 Selling Pickups, from 371,466 units to 337,205 units. The Toyota Tundra and Ford Ranger were the only strong sellers in the group.

Ford Motor Company came out in better shape that expected. The number one selling Ford F-Series (F-150 and Super Duty) pickups dropped 6.5% year-to-date, compared to last year's 13.2% contraction, while Ford Ranger sales shot up 23.6%. The Ranger's increase could be due to buyers looking for fuel efficient small trucks or possibly a large fleet sale to a commercial buyer. The jump enabled the Ranger to leapfrog the Chevrolet Colorado into the number two position in small truck sales, behind the Toyota Tacoma mid-size pickup.

General Motors suffered more than expected. GM's all new Silverado and Sierra light and heavy duty full-size pickups saw sales sizably contract. Silverado is off 17.4% and Sierra fell 9.6%. We're predicting higher incentives soon for both of GM's big trucks. Sales of the Chevy Colorado also lost ground, down 12.1% year-to-date.

Chrysler took big hits. Dodge Ram light and heavy-duty truck sales shrunk 20% year-to-date, compared to a -2% pace all of last year. And Dodge Dakota (not in the Top 10) sales have fallen off a cliff - down 49% year-to-date compared to 2007. This poor performance comes after last fall's introduction of the freshened 2008 Dodge Dakota, which included an updated 4.7-liter V8. And to make matters even worse for Dakota, it's now being outsold by the much maligned Honda Ridgeline unibody pickup (not in Top 10) 5,779 units to 4,693 units year-to-date. Last year the Dodge Dakota outsold the Honda Ridgeline 50,702 units to 42,795 units.

Toyota's truck sales remain strong. Tundra half-ton is up 62.2% year-to-date and came within 688 units of the GMC Sierra's combined half-ton and heavy-duty pickups. But Tundra sales appear weaker in 2008 than the pace they held in 2007. At current sales levels, we're forecasting the Tundra will sell approximately 164,000 units in 2008 - well below Toyota's stated business goal of 200,000 units and last year's year-end 196,555 number. Look for extra incentives to help spiff Tundra sales, especially if March is a poor sales month. Tacoma mid-size sales are off 3.2% but the Taco remains the best selling small truck in the country.

The Toyota Tundra appears to be having a large impact on Nissan. Titan half-ton sales are down 35%. The Nissan Frontier mid-size is doing a bit better. Frontier sales are down 14.1%.

With oil hitting new highs and gasoline prices up sharply to an average of $3.13/gallon in the week ended February 25, up 40% from $2.24/ gallon in January 2007, we're not expecting March to be any better than February.

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