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Will Chevy's 2014 Silverado Top Ford's F-Series?

It would make sense that in the most profitable vehicle segment -- full-size pickups -- you would find the most heated rivalry. That certainly holds true between America's two largest automakers, Ford (NYSE: F  ) and General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) . In the world of trucks you're either a Ford or a Chevy guy, and that's that -- there's no switching sides or gray area. The rivalry is stuff of legends, and while Ford has been dominating truck sales since the recession, GM now has one thing it can tout over its crosstown rival, at least for now: its No. 1 safety rating. Will that help the Silverado in its push to finally top the F-Series for the best-selling truck?

I doubt it. Here's why.

King of the hill
If you've been keeping track, the F-Series has been America's best-selling truck for 31 years now. The Silverado has had second place locked down but can't gain any ground on the F-Series.

Graph by author; 0information from Automotive News Data Center. 2013 projected from sales through July.

Ford's F-Series has even widened the sales gap since the recession, because some consumers refuse to buy from GM after its taxpayer-fueled bailout. GM loyalists often point out that if you combine all of GM's full-size sales, between the Silverado and Sierra, they do outsell Ford -- but that hasn't been true recently.

Graph by author; information from Autmotive News DataCenter. 2013 projected from sales through July.

Once again, since the recession Ford has widened the sales gap even when you combine Silverado and Sierra sales. Right now GM is pushing back, with both of its trucks receiving complete redesigns for the 2014 model, while the next-generation F-150 is a year away. This may be GM's small window of opportunity to gain ground, and sales for the Silverado and Sierra have surged 45% and 49%, respectively, for July as the new designs hit showrooms across the nation.

To follow up a great sales performance in July, the 2014 Silverado and Sierra just received a five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those two are the first full-size pickups to get the highest safety rating possible since the tougher judging system was implemented three years ago.

"Silverado and Sierra set a benchmark for pickup truck safety by offering a full array of advanced features designed to protect occupants before, during, and after a collision," Gay Kent, GM general director of vehicle safety and crashworthiness, said in a statement, according to Automotive News

Why it doesn't matter
Even though Silverado and Sierra sales are surging, I don't believe its No. 1 safety rank will be enough to win back the sales crown this year -- in part because only 14% of consumers rank safety as their top priority when purchasing a vehicle.

Graph by authorl information from Consumer Reports.

Another reason I don't think the Silverado will top the F-Series is that the truck segment is insanely loyal. Moreover, Ford is No. 1 in brand loyalty, according to an R.L. Polk survey. Even the less loyal consumers that remain on the fence about making a purchase may opt to wait for the next-generation F-150 -- and if it looks anything like the Atlas concept, it's going to draw major attention.

Ford's F-150 Atlas concept. Photo: Ford Motor.

Investing takeaway
The development of truck sales may be the most important thing to Ford and GM investors, because it's estimated that each truck sale can bring as much as $10,000 in bottom-line profits. That's a large amount per vehicle, and full-size trucks are estimated to bring in the majority of profits for the two automakers. On top of profits, the F-Series and Silverado are the two best-selling vehicles in the U.S. by a landslide, which means they represent the fastest way to gain or lose market share -- a figure that investors eye very closely. Moreover, transaction prices of trucks continue to rise faster than the industry average, according to TrueCar -- meaning that every year, full-size truck sales become more and more important.

If Ford continues to widen its lead in full-size truck sales, its revenues, profits, and market share will continue to improve as we've seen over the past year, during which time Ford's stock price has responded with a 73% rise. If Ford's next generation F-150 is a hit and continues to dominate the full-size segment, it will be a huge win for investors over the next five years.

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Read/Post Comments (12) | Recommend This Article (9)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 01, 2013, at 10:29 AM, jman6366 wrote:

    Truck sales really depend on gas prices. No smart person in this country is going to willingly drive a 15 mile per gallon pick up if gas is at $5 a gallon. If gas stays at $3.50 a gallon truck sales should continue to climb!!!

  • Report this Comment On September 01, 2013, at 10:43 AM, JLB768 wrote:

    I hear Ford will be putting heated tailgates on the F150, that way your hands stay warm while pushing them in the winter.

  • Report this Comment On September 01, 2013, at 11:08 AM, hawkhell wrote:

    Gas prices make only a slight difference in pickup truck sales. One majority of pickup owners need a truck for work. Two most other pickup owners don't really case about gas prices and will put mud tires and a lift kit on them and cut the MPG in half so they can have fun off road.

    Ford has had better sales. Somewhere down the line people confused sales with quality. While I believe Fords quality was typically on par with GM til the 80s and again since 2012, people act like the 90s were good years for Ford. I mean they put out by far the biggest pieces of crap. When Chevy released the Vortec 350 for pickups they were hands down the best buy. I owned a 98 silverado and dogged it out for 270k miles and only had to replace a fuel pump and normal maintenance. RIP due to retarded cousin driving down a road when a tree jumped out in front of him.

  • Report this Comment On September 01, 2013, at 11:08 AM, hunter3203 wrote:

    The Silverado seems to be a nice truck but GM was very conservative in its redesign. Everything is a little better but no major improvements. Ford on the other hand is taking a big step with its redesigned 2015 F-150. It's adopting aluminum in a big way and it's rumored to be dropping 700 lbs from its weight. That's a big deal and it will simultaneously improve fuel economy, increase payload and towing and improve performance. Look for Ford to increase it's market share come 2015.

  • Report this Comment On September 01, 2013, at 11:19 AM, LungsOfSteel wrote:

    Hunter, you're all wet.

    The Chevy is the current leader on quality and performance - most buff book tests bear this out.

    Bringing up the 2015 Ford is moot because it isn't out yet, much less there's plenty that's merely conjecture. And when it comes out, will you be talking about the 2016 Ram?

    It's silly. Look at it from a car guy's perspective. Can you?

  • Report this Comment On September 01, 2013, at 11:31 AM, pow355 wrote:

    With the prices of new trucks and 7 year financing I don't see any new trucks in my future. My 04 sierra 2500hd diesel will be around till the wheels fall off. But the rest of you keep buying those fords my retirement could count on you, only wish I'd bought more when ford hit 1.75 a share.

  • Report this Comment On September 01, 2013, at 12:01 PM, TheyBothSuck wrote:

    I never understood why this brag by Ford was even considered accurate. "The F-Series trucks have been the best selling line of trucks since blah, blah, blah" That covers ALL full sized Ford pick-ups..The "Silverado" was merely a trim package for most of that time...Change the verbiage to 1/2 or 3/4 ton pick up, compare apples to apples.....the numbers will most likely be different.

  • Report this Comment On September 01, 2013, at 12:03 PM, alsorl wrote:

    No, the Chevy Silverado will never outsell the F-150. At least this new 2014 model. I went to a chevy dealer this past month thinking I was looking at the left over 2013 model. It was actually the 2014 model. After looking and having the sales rep give me a walk around. It seemed like a great truck. But, it also looked out of date right from the start, cheap looking cloth materials and plastic looking dash. This was very sad since this dealer and most dealers in Florida still have left over 2012 Silverado's on sale for 10 to 12 thousand off sticker.

  • Report this Comment On September 01, 2013, at 12:10 PM, hunter3203 wrote:


    You're wrong. The Ecoboost motor has been a HUGE hit for the F-150 and has significantly more torque(420 lb ft) than even the V-8 in the 2014 Siverado.

    In case you missed it, the Ram has already been redesigned and now the Silverado. They're both competing against an F-150 that was last redesigned in 2009. At yet the F-150 still holds a significant sales lead.

    I'm a car guy and I know the difference in a conservative approach(GM) and a manufacturer setting a new standard(Ford).

    Btw, I don't have anything against GM. I'd love to get my hands on the new 5th Gen small block. That's a great engine. But GM is soon going be 5 years behind the curve compared to the F-150. That's a big mistake for GM.

  • Report this Comment On September 01, 2013, at 12:57 PM, Bazerkly wrote:

    FORD Trucks always have been #1 and they always will be. FORD makes a quality truck that will last for many years. Chevy does not!

  • Report this Comment On September 02, 2013, at 12:28 AM, LungsOfSteel wrote:

    Ask Ford truck owners what they think of the EcoBust. Ask the editors of the buff books how it compares.

    It doesn't measure up.

    And the point (and sarcasm) of the Ram was missed by you.

    Go back to Start and try again. Poo-poohing GM for a new product based on your lack of knowledge of a future Ford product is laughable.

  • Report this Comment On September 02, 2013, at 1:57 PM, doncrs65 wrote:

    Iam sorry but i think The Ram 1500 is the best selling truck now, not Ford and not Chevy.

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