What are America's top-selling trucks so far in 2017?
All five of the trucks on our list have something big in common: They're highly profitable for their makers. Not only do all of these trucks sell in huge numbers, but they're selling at higher prices than they did not long ago.
Automakers with popular truck models have realized that many buyers will pay extra for premium comfort and convenience features more traditionally associated with luxury cars. That has driven average transaction prices to all-time highs -- and for some of these automakers, boosted profit margins significantly.
That makes them important to investors as well as to car buyers. Here's a look at the five pickups that are bringing home extra bacon for their makers in 2017.
While the big-selling Detroit pickups are popular with commercial buyers, Toyota has carved out a profitable niche for the midsize Tacoma as a fun "lifestyle" truck. Image source: Toyota.
5th place: Toyota Tacoma
Across the industry, full-size pickups outsell midsize models, but Toyota (NYSE: TM) has always gone its own way. The latest Tacoma, introduced as a 2016 model, has been a big seller, with U.S. sales outpacing those of its larger Tundra sibling by about 1.7 to 1 this year. Through October, Toyota has sold 163,224 Tacomas in the U.S. in 2017, up 2.9% from a year ago.
The GMC Sierra starts at just over $28,000, but loaded heavy-duty versions like this 2500 Denali HD can hit $70,000. There's a lot of profit for GM in there. Image source: General Motors.
4th place: GMC Sierra
The Sierra is the upscale twin to General Motors' (NYSE: GM) larger-selling full-size pickup, the Chevrolet Silverado. The Silverado outsells the Sierra by about 2.7 to 1, but the Sierra sells at higher prices: While both the Silverado and Sierra start at just over $28,000, the Sierra can be optioned up much higher. That's especially true of the plush Denali versions, which start at nearly $53,000 -- and which account for over 35% of sales.
But despite the popularity of luxury trucks, the Sierra is getting a bit long in the tooth and sales are down in 2017. (An all-new Sierra is expected next year.) Through October, GM has sold 173,371 Sierras in the U.S. this year, down 3.4% from the same period in 2016.
Like the GM twins, FCA's Ram is still selling well, but it's nearly ready for an overhaul. A new version arrives next spring. Image source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
3rd place: Ram
Along with the super-profitable Jeep SUV brand, sales of the Ram pickup are a major driver of global profits for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE: FCAU). The current version of the truck formerly known as the Dodge Ram (FCA made Ram a stand-alone brand in 2011) gets good reviews for its on-road comfort without skimping on the brawny capabilities that full-size truck buyers expect.
FCA is expected to launch an all-new Ram next spring, but buyers are still turning out for the current model. Year to date through October, Ram sales have risen 3% from a year ago, to 419,102.
The current Chevy Silverado is still selling well, but GM has had to increase incentives this year. A new Silverado is expected next fall. Image source: General Motors.
2nd place: Chevrolet Silverado
The Chevy Silverado is GM's full-size stalwart, a big seller that generates a ton of profit for the General -- but it has been a little bit of a tough sell in 2017, and GM has had to boost its discounts to keep the trucks moving. That might seem like a surprise, as the Silverado isn't really that old -- it was introduced in 2013 as a 2014 model. But the truck market moves quickly, and despite a facelift for 2016, there's a perception that the big Chevy has fallen a step behind its bigger-selling archrival.
That may change soon, as GM is known to be putting the finishing touches on the next-generation Silverado, expected to show up at dealers next fall. Year to date through October, GM has sold 471,747 Silverados in the U.S., down 0.8% from a year ago.
Ford's F-150 was completely all-new for 2015, but Ford isn't standing still: 2018 models have revamped styling and a long list of updates. Image source: Ford Motor Company.
1st place: Ford F-Series
Winner and still champion: Ford Motor Company's (NYSE: F) line of full-size pickups, collectively known as the F-Series, have been America's best-selling vehicles for decades. They're also a massive generator of profits for Ford, and not surprisingly, the Blue Oval lavishes its "crown jewel" with plenty of attention, keeping it fresh and competitive year after year.
What's new now? The Super Duty variants (F-250 and up) were all-new and hugely improved for 2017, and sales -- and prices -- have been very, very strong. The big-selling F-150, which was new for 2015, got a major update for 2018 -- and Ford has added an ultra-plush Limited trim to both the F-150 and the Super Duty models.
The upshot? Through October, Ford has sold a hearty 734,610 F-Series pickups in the U.S., up 11.1% from the same period in 2016.
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