Ford Motor Co. is proving that late is better than never when it comes to pickup truck sales.
Ford chased General Motors back into the midsize pickup market by waiting until this year to start selling its new Ranger. That allowed its chief rival to pile up a big lead in the segment by introducing the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins back in 2014. But first-quarter sales for the 2019 Ford Ranger – the reintroduction of the truck after an eight-year absence – are looking good for the Dearborn, Mich., automaker.
Ford sold 9,421 Rangers during the first three months of this year, grabbing a 7 percent slice of the U.S. midsize pickup truck market. It has a long way to go to catch the segment-leading Toyota Tacoma – sales of 58,183 in the same period – and the Colorado, with sales of 33,394. But it has already passed both the Canyon and Honda Ridgeline.
Even better, Ford is getting top price for the Ranger.
“As we closed out the quarter, Ranger transacted at $37,882 for the month of March; this is $4,530 more than segment average,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “It’s a great sign and demonstrates the midsize truck customers, like full-size truck customers, are willing to invest in capable, well-equipped trucks.”
The Ranger also is adding to Ford’s overall truck sales. Ford sold a market-leading 214,611 F-Series full-size pickups in the first quarter, a slight gain from the same period a year earlier. That gave Ford combined pickup truck sales of 224,032 so far this year. Ford has 34 percent of the pickup truck market, up from 33 percent a year ago.
“Ford’s truck sales have soared to volumes they haven’t seen in 15 years with the Ranger in play. Initially at least, we expect most Ranger sales to be incremental for the brand and the segment at large,” said Paul Waatti, manager of product analysis for the AutoPacific consulting firm.
A series of favorable reviews have helped Ranger sales. It’s also joined one of the hottest segments of the auto market. Helped by the addition of the Ranger and healthy gains for the Colorado and Tacoma, sales of midsize pickup trucks rose 13 percent in the first quarter. The segment growth came during a period when overall U.S. auto sales fell 2.5 percent.
“The midsize truck market still has some room to grow before it hits its saturation point,” Waatti told Trucks.com.
General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Ram brand all abandoned the midsize pickup truck during the last recession to concentrate on higher-profit full-size trucks. Each has re-entered the market, although FCA’s entrant is the Jeep Gladiator rather than a Ram.
Ford should continue to do well, Waatti said. He expects Ranger sales and market share to grow during the quarter.
“Ranger might not be knocking the sales leaders from the podium, but Ford hopes the extra volumes bolster total truck sales enough to overtake GM as the best-selling pickup manufacturer in the industry,” Waatti said.