The Ford F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle in the US for several decades now, and GM's Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra model lines aren't too far behind. Even still, we'd wager that few would ever have foreseen a day in which pickup trucks outsold sedans in the country's new vehicle market.
Yet just such a thing has happened, The Detroit News reports, citing data from Autodata Corp. that suggests pickups beat sedans by some 17,000 units for the month of April - a first in the US auto industry, although one that was by some extent precipitated by the Detroit Big Three's decision to all but abandon the sedan segment as utility vehicles surge in popularity.
Granted, it would be foolish not to acknowledge the role that the current global pandemic played in allowing truck sales to surge past sedan sales. For one thing, as The Detroit News notes, pickup truck ownership tends to be more prevalent in middle America, where the novel coronavirus outbreak didn't land as hard, than in the more sedan-friendly coastal states. It's likely a combination of stricter stay-at-home orders and more widespread furloughs and layoffs affected new vehicle sales more in coastal states.
But in many cases, high-margin pickups were also given a boost by special zero-percent financing offers rolled out to help bolster sales during the pandemic, and where car rental services often contribute significantly to new sedan sales, a dramatic decline in travel has hurt demand.
Even still, it's a remarkable shift from just five years ago, The Detroit News notes, when sedans outsold trucks by half-a-million units in a single month.
Several years ago now, Fiat Chrysler axed its slow-selling Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans before Ford announced its plan to completely exit the "traditional sedan" segment in North America. General Motors responded in kind by canceling numerous sedan models across several different brands, including the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, and Cadillac CT6.