Wrapping up October month, the mid-size pickup truck segment has already delivered its best sales year in the history of the segment – 296,062 units, up 54.2 percent and exceeding 2014 sales for the same period by more than 104,000 units – and there are still two months to go.
Led by an all-new and more outdoor capable Toyota Tacoma and spurred on by the re-entry of GM to the segment with their new family-centric Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, the more than 296,000 mid-size trucks that rolled out of dealer showrooms in the first ten months of 2015 clobbered the previous best sales year (275,000 units in 2011) for the segment.
Looking out to the end of the year, we see that the availability of quantities of the new Tacoma along with the arrival of the segment-first diesel engine in the Colorado and Canyon – solidly positions the segment to deliver over 350,000 units for 2015.
BY THE NUMBERS
In October, Tacoma delivered 15,233 units for a 51.7 percent share of the segment’s sales and up 17% from the same month a year ago. Year to date, Tacoma has sold 148,905 units, an increase of 16.5 percent from 2014.
Toyota expects that, as the full range of new Tacoma trucks fills the inventory pipeline, the demand for the Tacoma will increase. We also hear ‘rumors’ of some special edition versions being considered, but the solid performance characteristics of the new TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road will likely not require any special edition versions to satisfy customers for some time.
The new Colorado is the sales leader for the GM duo with sales of 7,059 for the month and 70,291 year to date. For the month, Colorado sales were 24 percent of the segment and for the year at 23.7 percent.
Both Colorado and the GMC Canyon will gain more momentum as they roll out more special edition versions of the respective trucks like the Colorado Z71 Trail Boss and a Denali version of the Canyon in 2016. The addition of the new 2.8L Duramax Turbodiesel engine option for both late this year will also attract additional buyers to the GM vehicles in 2016.
The aged Nissan Frontier continues to have a strong following in spite of its age. Frontier sales of 4,764 for the month and 52,025 were down for the same periods in 2014, but still earned them a 16.2 percent segment share for the month and 17.6 percent for the year so far.
We think they have a solid following for their truck and sales will continue at a very moderate rate through 2016 which will lower their market share as the others continue to grow
The Canyon trails the segment with sales of just 2,415 (8.2 percent share) in October and 24,841 (8.4 percent share) year to date. The new DuraMax Turbodiesel coming now will give Canyon some bump. But the introduction of a Denali version of Canyon should give them a good bump. GM says Denali level trucks and SUV represent over 23 percent of their sales. Denali is the ultimate in a GMC with 23 percent of sales being a Denali. The availability of a Canyon in a Denali trim will attract additional buyers.
2016 LOOK AHEAD
The mid-size pickup segment should continue its growth in 2016, limited only by a possible general automotive sales slow-down and more probably, by availability of product. The sales growth will come from Tacoma, Colorado and Canyon with the Frontier continuing to just hold on until a new Frontier arrives which is unlikely until sometime in 2017.
Our crystal ball forecast is that the mid-size segment may easily sell upwards of 400,000 units in 2016 if the market continues solid and there are no production hiccups at any plants,
Toyota has a finite production capacity challenge in that they build Tacoma in just two plants and both are running at max capacity now. Toyota has some flexibility in that the San Antonio plant also builds the full-size Tundra and some capacity could be borrowed from Tundra to meet demand for the Tacoma. Toyota engineering has also been hard at work on various productivity projects to inch up production and has had some recent success at San Antonio.
GM tells us that they are selling every Colorado or Canyon that they can build. We do not have figures on production capacity for the respective plants, but believe they have plant production options that can be engaged to produce more trucks as needed. In addition, we think the sales rate currently reflects a pent up demand for their new trucks and as that initial demand is met and inventories built, they will be able run with the growth that will come from the special editions and diesel engine options.