Truck Wars: Is Ford Motor Company Truly Crushing General Motors?

Ford's 2015 F-150 could be a game-changer in the full-size pickup segment. Source: Ford Motor Company

It's no secret that Ford's (NYSE: F  ) F-Series has been America's best-selling pickup truck for 37 consecutive years, and the best-selling overall vehicle for 32 straight years -- complete dominance. However, as some are quick to point out, that doesn't tell the whole story. When combining sales from General Motors' (NYSE: GM  ) two separate brands of trucks, Chevrolet's Silverado and GMC's Sierra, the race becomes much closer between America's two largest automakers. So is Ford really on top of GM when it comes to truck sales? Maybe more important, which will be king of the hill going forward?

By the numbers
The sales figures over the last 16 years are incredibly close when comparing Ford's F-Series versus General Motors' Silverado and Sierra combined. Consider that Ford has averaged 745,747 F-Series sales annually since 1998, which slightly edges out GM's Silverado and Sierra combined average of 744,150. Doing the math, that brings Ford and GM's respective totals to 11,931,954 and 11,906,396, with Ford narrowly topping its cross-town rival. While the results from the last 16 years are ridiculously close, Ford has definitely built a large advantage since the recession.

Graph by author. Source: Ford and GM's sales reports.

It's clear that two factors have given Ford more of a lead than usual, over the last few years. First, the fact that General Motors filed for bankruptcy and received unusual treatment during the process has definitely hurt its image. The nickname "Government Motors" will certainly outlive the government's ownership of the company, which has already come to an end. Second, GM's two trucks were long overdue for a makeover and were getting beat in sales due to the late refresh. The bad news for GM fans is that the all-new designs that hit the showroom in mid-2013 aren't taking advantage of the small window of opportunity before Ford's next-generation F-150 goes on sale later this year.

Consider recent sales, where the Silverado and Sierra should be gaining market share on the older F-150. Instead, sales of the Silverado and Sierra declined 16% and 4.6% in December, compared with an 8.4% rise for Ford's F-Series. The trend continued in January when sales of GM's two trucks declined 18.4% and 13.5%, compared to a better looking decline of 0.7% for the F-Series.

More to the story
Now, we also have to consider some factors beyond sales. Because GM's trucks are newly redesigned, the company was initially reluctant to offer larger incentives on its trucks, which lower profits, as Ford must do to keep a higher pace of sales with its older pickup offering. Looking at the average transaction price can give us more insight to how well GM's trucks are doing.

According to Kelly Blue Book, the Silverado's ATP increased 12% to $40,575 -- meaning that even as sales slow, each one is more valuable. The bad news is that even with the Silverado's 12% increase, because of having a newly designed model, it still trailed Ford's older F-150 which averages $40,672. That's very bad news for Silverado fans, as Ford's next-generation truck will likely significantly boost its ATP.

If you don't believe those numbers have the folks at GM worried, wait until you hear what's next. Those results likely played a factor in the company's decision to increase its incentives to try and drive sales of the Silverado higher.

GM is offering some of its biggest incentives in months during February's month-long Presidents Day promotion. The deal runs through Feb. 28 and offers the deepest discounts on its trucks so far, and both the Silverado and Sierra will be offered at discounted prices that the company offers to employees of its suppliers, or the dealer invoice price. GM is also advertising more than $7,000 off of its double-cab V-6 All Star model.

Bottom line
It's clear that while the race has been close in the long run, Ford has the decisive advantage over GM's combined truck sales lately. When you consider ATP, growing market share, and the potential shakeup from Ford's next-generation F-150 which could take a leap in fuel economy -- it appears Ford will only be adding to its lead in the most profitable vehicle segment in America. 

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Read/Post Comments (34) | Recommend This Article (23)

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 February 15, 2014, at 10:53 AM, Trucknut14 wrote:

    Buy a Dodge RAM. Then you won't have to compete with this nonsense and you will own a better vehicle. Dodge builds the best truck in America.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 11:03 AM, imDanielle2 wrote:

    Stay away from those "Power-Chokes" ... Get a Duramax or Cummins only... You will be much happier!

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 11:23 AM, sptster1200 wrote:

    Got to agree with Trucknut14. Get a RAM! Best pickups going and the best looking truck on the road. Ford looks like something a two year old would create with his Lego blocks and GM has no styling at all.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 11:23 AM, bossbill wrote:

    Despite claims from the naysayers, Fords truck market dominance will continue with the introduction of the aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150.

    Simply put, when you're number one in anything you always have a target on your back.

    Ford is number one in this segment and number one in customer loyalty among automobile manufacturers.

    These factors rule. Ford needs not to aspire to other car companies.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 11:32 AM, sabebrush6 wrote:

    I have had a lot of Ford trucks over the years and they were for the most part, really good trucks. When I bought my last new truck, I switched to Chevy because of the difference in gas mileage. I couldn't afford to drive my Ford to my beach property 240 miles r/t at 8-9 mpg. The Chevy's were getting 17-18 so I switched. I put 218K on my silverado and had no problems with it either.

    Personally, I would not hesitate to buy either.

    I wouldn't however buy a Dodge for any amount of money. I do have my pride.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 11:40 AM, JDerek40 wrote:

    They're all over priced. Ford especially for the way I want them configured.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 12:00 PM, bpainter wrote:

    Ford needs to pay the money it borrowed back to the feds. They still owe 5.9 billion dollars. Ford got this loan right after bailout for Chrysler and GM. Look it up go to Forbes on Ford 5.9 billion loan.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 12:29 PM, spawn44 wrote:

    Wrong take on the loan bpainter. This was not a bailout and Ford is paying it back right on schedule.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 1:20 PM, kca124cain wrote:

    I'd take either a Ford or a Chevy. Both are great trucks.

    Drove a Ram 1/2 ton Hemi for a week over Christmas. Got 23 MPG on the highway, 19 city, and 16 pulling a trailer. Not bad, but I could not get used to the transmission "dial" instead of a real shifter.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 2:02 PM, guysisson wrote:

    I own a 2012 f-150, which is perhaps the nicest vehicle I have ever driven. I recently drove my friends 2014 Silverado, it was a real disappointment. The Silverado is simply an inferior truck. The sales numbers prove this.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 2:08 PM, bpainter wrote:

    spawn I can't help you with your reading skills. I thank the feds for helping Ford , Chrysler, GM out. Oh by the way I said it was a loan to Ford.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 3:58 PM, Dodgeowner wrote:

    I think its funny how loyalty plays the biggest part of staying with a certain brand and not the facts of the trucks themselves.

    I was a chevy man for a long while, and then in our family steel business we purchased chevys, dodges and fords. Over the years we quickly started to realize chevy just didn't have it and was the first to go to the scrap yard. The fords were okay and had more pulling power back in the day, but the dodges seamed to just out last them both. Our 1979 which was one of our first trucks took a good construction beating and is still running to this day. I never liked ford, but today, I would buy a dodge or a ford anytime. Chevy has been following dodge and ford with new ideas and its all about the money and not the quality of the truck anymore. I had a project in Vegas and rented a 2013 Chevy Silverado just to go back and forth to the site. It had 17 miles on it and I was the first to drive it from the rental place. The truck was good on fuel, but completely gutless. The back passenger door opened and closed like it was jamming or being slammed. I put my fingers on the hinge bolts and to my surprise, I took them out by hand. Now that's what I call a quality truck. The interior looked the same as our 1979 chevy. They need to wake up and stop copying everyone elses ideas. Dodge is constantly coming out every year with new updates and or accessories. Ford is also doing the same. Sorry chevy, your not even in the race anymore and are just a popular name that's been handed down for generations. on the last note, I have never had a chevy take me in a 4x4 tug a war. my 94, 99, 2004 and my 2008 have taken them all. not to mention pulling them out of snow as there electric over vacuum 4x4 seams to fail at the wrong times.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 4:55 PM, joeriggs2173 wrote:

    Ford is crushing Chevy. That's why they are lowering the price of the new Silverado. Ford truck were always better then Chevy. I pull a travel trailer. and was told by people pulling them with Chevy's how did I make it up a off road very step hill. The Chevy drivers took the long way around. I put my Ford in 4 x 4 and off we went. My truck plus 9500 LBs trailer we made the step off road hill. All construction company's use Ford trucks not Chevy's. Ford didn't take bail out money. and now they pay Mary Barra 14.4 million dollars. With tax payers money. Down with General Motors.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 4:58 PM, riccosutton wrote:

    I've owned them all. Have a totally mint 2001 Silverado Z71 short bed standard cab in my collection. Right now I drive a 2012 Ram and finding out it's a great truck. Styling is better than Ford and GM and the bastard is faster than f _ _k. The ZF front and rear axles are flawless as well.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 5:05 PM, Onesawb wrote:

    I've been a Ford Truck owner for more than 50 years. When I was a kid back on the farm I learned to drive in a 1948 Ford F1 PU I've never owned anything but Ford trucks, I've looked at Dodge and Chevy but never actually bought one I don't think I ever will.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 5:14 PM, rocsoe wrote:

    ANOTHER promotional piece about "deep discounts" in pickups that are STILL priced twice as high as they are worth.

    The half-tons may have some customer loyalty because they are not work trucks. The heavier pickups do not. The buyer gets what's out there at the time.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 6:17 PM, aktundra wrote:

    My trucks since 1996....1997 Ford F150, 1996 Dodge Ram 5.9L 4x4, 2004 Toyota Tundra double cab 4.7L V8 4x4, 2010 Toyota Tacoma doublecab SR5 V6 4x4 and now 2014 Ram 1500 Quad cab 3.6L V6 4x4. If you shop the brands you will find that the new Tundra while smooth and refined gets atrocious gas mileage, in the comical range of low teens combined, its terrible. The F150 while having the option of the very strong twin turbo V6, the Ram 3.6L V6 is a no-cost option, has MORE horsepower, comparable torque and isnt an option that costs thousands.....oh, it also gets the same mileage. Add to this the flexible RAMbox cargo system, the 4-dr quad cab and the amazing refinement and smoothness of the RAM 1500 and the winner is clear. The RAM continues to win comparisons tests against the F150 and GM twins, that says something too. I am a generally unbiased buyer of trucks, I buy what fits my needs and what is top rated and this time around after 2 Toyotas, the RAM won, hands down.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 6:24 PM, SGTrs wrote:

    I have always been a GM fanboy because my dad has worked for them for almost 40 yrs so to be clear i am biased BUT fair with facts and for your italian RAM truck fanboys according to jdpower dodge/ram had the most reported problems, 181 problems for every 100 vehicles, 2nd worse only to Mini. Chevy and Ford are right in the middle of the statistic with Chevy being slightly higher than Ford. I enjoy the rivalry's but you love what you love and ram still sucks...

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 6:43 PM, pred560 wrote:

    Not to sound like an ass, but Dodge hasn't made trucks since 2010. So, for someone to act like they know about trucks and to tell you to buy a Dodge truck(Trucknut14), doesn't sound like someone I would take advice from!!!

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 7:17 PM, frellmedead wrote:

    I've always been a GM guy, but they have become stagnant and boring both in design and technological advances. The new Fords are impressive in looks, features, and technology.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 8:11 PM, babyjoe67 wrote:

    lets be real ford didnt take loan from government because ford boss refuse to take a pay cut , he said he would resign first , once they did some out sourcing and buyouts and kick backs from union workers their making money hand over foot now , and lets see how much the union gets back at contract time their going to say sales are down and we cant give back any concessons we havent had a raise in 9 years,ford boss got $300million so stay tooned folks

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 8:42 PM, vuvancouver wrote:

    Nothing can beat my tough, reliable Tundra. With less trips to the mechanic compare to these.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 9:22 PM, McSniperliger wrote:

    People criticize the new F150 for the aluminum body. Put this in perspective, they are using 5000 and 6000 series Aluminum. Both series are alloyed with Magnesium. They are boasting a 700lbs weight loss on top of a gain in overall payload, which is true. Aluminum has been used in UPS and FedEx trucks for many many years. The frame is high strength steel.

    A few magazines have confirmed a 3.0L turbo diesel in the F150 within the next couple years. These have been used in Ranger Rover, Land Rover and Jaguars in Europe and other parts in the world. They have a great record. 440ft/lbs of torque.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 11:53 PM, chronarch wrote:

    GM blew the 2014 redesign. Boring styling that looks very dated and no rear AC vents in the crew cab trucks. Too dang hot in the back seat with no rear AC. Sorry GM, nice engines but no real changes in the so called updates worth trading for.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 3:03 AM, sutarts wrote:

    If you take out all the fleet vehicle sales for both ford and gm and put up the regular consumer sales then Dodge has them both beat, but they don't want to tell you that because ford and gm know it to be true.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 3:51 AM, roadhouse wrote:

    Ram is the best Truck on the market today. However, Ford is starting to produce a better looking truck.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 9:13 AM, lem2004 wrote:

    The big reason that GM is behind is the fact that they ran out of money and couldn't afford to refresh their trucks like Ford did.I think it has been 8 years sense their last design.I would bet that you will see new designs every few years now that they can afford it.They will come back.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 2:53 PM, AmericanFirst wrote:


    Please be reminded the $5.9B DOE "Loan" was for 'green technology" development and was from the same pool of funds that Tesla, Nissan, Fisker and others also received from the Department Of Energy. The gov has not lost "dime" on Ford's DOE Loan, which F will pay back as the terms of the " loan."

    On the other hand, what we do know the taxpayers have lost $10.5B on their investment in GM, we do know that GM fleeced their bondholders for $30B, and we do know that GM also received $45B in corp. income tax benefits per the GM Bailout. Prove me wrong!

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 3:45 PM, dchurch wrote:

    I have owned 5 ford trucks,and 1 Chev truck.

    Presently I own a 2013 Fi50.

    A group of us go from eastern Wis. to the Black Hills every year for ATV riding.

    I usually pull a trailer with 4 ATVs ,a friend who owns a Chev 1500 also pulls the same amount. The Chev truck can not be run with cruise control on as the truck will shift at every hill on interstate I 90.

    We both run in trailer haul mode. my ford will maintain 70 M.P.H. with out shifting, After an hour run I am almost 5 miles ahead of him and he is saying I speed up and slow down. I set my cruise, set back, cross my feet and relax.

    Don,t know what happened to Chev, they use to out pull fords, but not anymore.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 8:25 PM, Quido wrote:

    The RAM is King of all Trucks. The Chevy Silverado is for Senior Citizens, the Ford is for Hard Workers and the RAM is the Muscle of all Trucks! You know your getting old when you purchase a Chevy Silverado! I can pull 2 trucks out of the ditch with my RAM at the same time! Real men drive RAMS, so the story goes. Everybody is entitled do speak there own views on any vehicle. So take this with a grain of salt!

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 9:47 PM, jimatmad wrote:

    1. Motley has the worst auto articles ever written. Not one of their writers has a clue.

    2. Their stories are always pushing some agenda other than writing about cars and trucks.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 8:05 AM, prez8292007 wrote:

    Ford is garbage. They're not crushing anything, and I'm sick of all these ford commercials clogging the airwaves.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 6:59 PM, joeg9100 wrote:

    I agree the bailout really hurt GM. Nowhere is it more apparent that how far behind they are in Truck technology. These trucks are mainly just catch up. They are not enough better than current Ford if at all. No one knows the future but all things said, if Aluminum is successful and it has to be, GM is 3 years behind. They are further behind in their engine technology. GM engines are just same old designs with higher compression and direct injection. Their engineers did a great job, but going forward they have no future because of the fuel economy requirements.

    Government fuel mandates will require lighter vehicles (aluminum and plastics) And smaller more powerful engines (V6 Turbos). This engine technology as Ford has found out will require a learning curve to make things work reliably.

    It looks like if GM can't pull a rabbit out of their hat Ford has a 5 year lead on them.

    BTW All of the Trucks out their are really good compared to a few years ago.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2015, at 1:27 AM, mymartind35 wrote:

    These guys bragging about the Cummins in the Dodge truck fail to mention that Ford owns Cummins. Ford F-150 is the best selling pickup of all time. Only led by Toyota Corolla. There are two kinds of vehicles Fords and can't affords,

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Daniel Miller

As a Motley Fool Industrial Specialist, I use my marketing and business background in the automotive industry to evaluate major automakers and other large industrial corporations. Follow me on twitter for tweets about stocks, cars, sports, and anything I find amusing.

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