It wasn’t a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination for the automotive industry in 2011. Fuel prices continued to climb ever higher while a natural disaster ravaged both Thailand and Japan causing parts shortages for many automakers. Hybrid vehicles weren’t safe from the aforementioned issues either, and as a result sales lagged early on in 2011. Concerns over unrelated battery fires in the Chevrolet Volt rounded out the year. We saw a few models disappear, some for the better and some for the worse but others quickly stepped in to take their place.
And then there was the truck segment. The year 2011 marked the end for stalwart trucks like the Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota in the U.S. But despite this, 2011 saw Detroit automakers Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors lead the way in sales figures for the truck segment. And like many other years before it, 2011 saw Honda and Toyota sitting in the background as they tried to sort out an array issues.
Models like the Ford F-Series—which stretched its streak to 35 years as the best selling truck and 30 years as the best-selling vehicle respectively—the Ram 1500, and the Chevrolet Silverado led the way in truck sales for 2011. Most automakers claim final sales numbers have been adjusted to ensure consistency for global sales reporting but whatever the reason was Honda and Toyota were unable to keep up with the Big Three. It should also be noted that Japanese auto maker Nissan only touched upon its compact truck, the Frontier, and its full-size sibling, the Titan wasn’t reported on. However the Frontier did have a solid December showing a 48.7 percent increase over last December; you can probably thank the recently departed Ranger for that. Here are the winners and losers in the truck segment for 2011.
- Ford: Ford led the truck segment selling 584,917 F-Series pickups in 2011 proving the need want for trucks are still alive and well. The new EcoBoost engine made its debut in the 2011 Ford F-150, and quickly paid dividends being named sister publication Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year. While no longer in production, the Ford Ranger sold 70,832 units in 2011, a 27.9 increase from the year before as customers snapped them up before they disappeared forever. In December Ford moved 68,278 trucks, a 24.4 percent increase year-over-year and closed out the year up 10.7 percent.
- Ram: The Ram brand broke off from Dodge and became its own brand back in 2009, but is only now being commonly recognized as its own entity. Posting a 10-percent sales increase in December over the same period last year and an unyielding 23 percent increase for the year the Ram brand made its presence known in 2011. Last month was the best for monthly sales since August 2008 for Ram as the truck brand was on its way to a 23 percent sales increase from the previous year. For the year the Ram brand moved 257,610 units.
- GM: General Motors was led by the Silverado pickup as per usual. Over the course of December GM’s popular pickups found 47,787 new driveways and garages to call home which translates to a 12.4 percent increase. For the year GM sold 415,130 units, 169,787 fewer than cross-town rival Ford but 157,520 more than Ram, which translates to a 12.2 percent increase for 2011.
- Honda: Honda’s awkward crossover-based Ridgeline pickup truck lumbered into 1468 new driveways in December, a decrease of 2.1 percent over the same period last year. This was indicative of the Ridgeline’s overall sales for 2011 as Honda’s truck department was down 8.6 percent compared to 2010.
- Toyota: Toyota’s truck division saw 69,354 units find new homes in December but that’s still a 2.2 percent decrease over the same month last year. Year-end sales were also down 5.5 percent when compared with 2010 as a whole.
Source: Ford, GM, Ram, Nissan, Honda, Toyota