Even if it’s not the Number 1 market worldwide anymore, the US remains this year a bright spot for automakers, as the auto industry is on track to have its best year since 2006, with car sales of about 16 million units this year, up from 14.5 million in 2012.
And, it looks like while fuel-efficient small cars were all the rage a few years ago, now it’s once again prime time for pickup trucks and utility vehicles. Sales of full-size pickups, buoyed by a steady housing market, the Midwest energy boom, and lower gasoline prices, are up about 20 % this year, with all three U.S. automakers racing to keep up with demand.
The trend has been especially good for Chrysler Group, where sales of its redesigned Ram pickup, up 22.5 %, have outpaced growth in the segment. Ram sales through October totaled 292,633 and its share of the full-size pickup truck market has grown from 14.5 % in 2010 to 16.3 % year to date.
GM and Ford have nothing to complain about, though. Both companies have seen 20 % sales growth in pickups this year. GM’s Chevrolet division began rolling out a redesigned version of its Silverado pickup in June, and has done a good job managing the transition from the outgoing model to the new one without resorting to heavy discounts. Silverado sales are up 19.7 % for the year, to 403,435.
Meanwhile, Ford, which will unveil a new F-series design in 2014, is successfully defending its hold on the title of best-selling nameplate in America by emphasizing a more fuel-efficient engine and added technology. Ford has sold 623,309 F-series pickups so far this year, up 19.8 % from a year ago.
It’s not just pickups that are selling well, though. Crossover utilities like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape are also hot, offering car buyers both flexibility and good fuel economy. CR-V has long been the best-seller in the segment, but the Escape, which was redesigned last year, is catching up fast. Through October, it trailed CR-V by only 1,100 units, with sales of 250,543.
Ford’s investment in product development over the past several years is reflected in the widespread success of its model line as now, besides the Escape and F-series, its Fusion is successfully challenging the traditional segment leaders Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. Still, the Camry looks like it will once again finish the year as the best-selling passenger car in America.
The first ten positions in US sales are as follow: 1. Ford F-150; 2. Chevrolet Silverado LTZ; 3. Toyota Camry; 4. Honda Accord; 5. Ram 1500; 6. Honda Civic; 7. Nissan Altima; 8. Toyota Corolla; 9. Honda CR-V; 10. Ford Escape