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Ram out-pickups Chevy, Challenger #1?, and other Q3 takeaways

by David Zatz on

Ram dealers reportedly can’t wait for a refurbished Warren Truck plant to come back on-line, because there’s a large pent-up demand for the Ram 1500 Classic. Allpar forum members agreed that the Classic still beats the similar-price competition at Chevy and Ford, while the new Ram 1500 “DT” made at Sterling Heights is ideal for those who are willing and able to spend a bit more.

GM had a good quarter, all things considered, with total vehicle sales falling by 10% from Q3 2019; but retail sales are getting better even if fleets are not, so chances are GM is selling fewer vehicles but with higher profits.  FCA also dropped by 10% in the quarter, and also claimed an increase in retail sales.

Ford had the best quarter of any domestic, with sales down by just 4.9% to 551,796 for the quarter and 17.5% for the year (FCA was down by 20% and GM by 17.4%).


In pickups, the Ram-Chevy rivalry, which would have been unthinkable in, say, 1993, continued. Ram sold 156,157 pickups in the quarter, 402,410 for the year to date; Chevy sold 147,484 in the quarter, 414,650 year to date. So Ram beat Chevy in the quarter, and is only around 12,200 trucks behind for the full year, operating with one plant tied behind its back.

Ah, you may say, but what about GMC Sierra, which is basically GM’s version of the Ram 1500 DT and higher-end 2500/3500? That’s a perfectly valid question, and it’s why GM is in no real danger of being out-pickupped by Ram this year. GMC sold 67,812 Sierras in the quarter, 176,645 for the year. Add that to the Chevys for a more accurate picture—the kind Allpar used to show when Honda or Toyota beat Dodge Caravan in sales!

Ford beat both GM and Ram by large margins, but the difference was smaller than in the past. The company sold 221,647 F-series pickups, a gain of 3.5% compared with GM and Ram losses. That was 6,000 more pickups than Chevy and GMC combined.

The Wagoneer faces minor headwinds if GM sales figures are any indication; the Suburban was down 39% for the quarter, the Tahoe was down 12%, the Yukon by 25%, and the Escalade by 56%. Some of that may be availability issues. At Ford, the huge Expedition managed a 4.4% sales gain, but they only sold 14,902 of the monstrous SUVs (along with 3,635 Navigators). The Wagoneer should have no problems tackling those figures; GM certainly doesn’t.

The muscle-car race, so to speak, continues but with speed limits; the Challenger was down just 9% at 16,332 for Q3, while the Camaro was down 32% to a stunningly low 8,366. Corvette sales may be to blame for some of this; they were up 33%, to 6,355. The Mustang fell by 18% to 13,851, winding up behind the Challenger but well ahead of the Camaro.

In the “small cars nobody wants” category, Fiat was down by 53% yet again, to just 1,102 sales over three months and the entire United Staets, while GM’s Sonic doubled in sales to 4,347 and the Spark gained 27% to 8,373.  Ford’s Fiesta doesn’t enter the contest since it was discontinued for quite some time.

In van-land, Amazon has clearly bet on the ProMaster, leading those sales to rise by 10% to 15,998; but the Transit remains the leader, with 38,890 sales in the quarter (down by 11%). Transit Connect fell by 5% to 10,916, which was three times more than ProMaster City, stable at 3,020.

Finally, we have the Grand-Cherokee-vs-Explorer contest, which was quite close; the Explorer, despite a 74% gain, only hit 59,060 sales, while the Grand Cherokee , down by 9%, fell to 56,447. The Explorer won this one, but a new Grand Cherokee is coming out soon, and that should change the equation. (The only Jeep to gain was the Gladiator, up by 37%. While its 22,163 sales are nothing against the Ranger and Colorado, the profit from each one is quite high.)

The Ram pickup was the second best seller in America for the third quarter (#3 for year-to-date), the only FCA product on the chart. The Dodge Charger did make #10 in “top selling cars,” though—with 23,547 sales, it came close to the Chevy Malibu (24,455) and Ford Fusion (#5, 29,243). The top selling car was the Toyota Camry, whose 79,046 sales made is #6 on the “both cars and trucks” list—which says a good deal about America sales tastes now.

Toyota sales dropped by 11% for the quarter; Honda dropped by 10%; Nissan/Mitsubishi by 30%; Subaru by 9%; VW Group by 10%; BMW by 16%. The only gainers were Hyundai-Kia (1%), Tesla, and Volvo.

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