Detroit Is Now Truly Taking Over The Very Pickup Truck Market It Has Always Owned

2016 Tacoma vs 2015 F-150
Only 14.7% of the new pickup trucks purchased or leased in the United States in 2015 were sold by import automakers. 

2015 marked the third consecutive year of declining market share for Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, members of a Japanese pickup truck trio which was once a full-fledged band. Isuzu, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Suzuki all sold pickup trucks in America less than a decade. Even Subaru got in on the action with the Outback-based Baja.


Complete 2015 U.S. Pickup Truck Sales By Model
Complete January 2016 U.S. Pickup Truck Sales By Model


But at 14.7%, Japanese automakers owned a smaller portion of the U.S. pickup truck market in 2015 than at any point in the previous ten years. Not since 2004, the year lowest figure since Ford's F-Series set a sales record with 939,511 sales, has the import section of the pickup truck market been so small.

Granted, the total volume achieved by the Toyota Tacoma, Toyota tundra, Nissan Frontier, Nissan Titan, and Honda Ridgeline increased in 2015, albeit by a modest 0.3% as sales of the Titan and Frontier decreased and the Ridgeline's hiatus produced an 12,869-unit decline. The Tacoma was the dominant small/midsize pickup truck in America in 2015. After averaging fewer than 45,000 annual sales between 2008 and 2012, Nissan produced its third consecutive 62K+ sales year. Tundra sales increased for a fourth consecutive year, climbing to a seven-year high.
Pickup truck Import market share vs Detroit 2004-2015
Click Chart To Expand
But on the strength of ever more popular full-size models and reborn midsize twins from General Motors, the traditional Detroit Three's share of the U.S. pickup truck market grew to 85.3% in 2015, a huge change compared with 2007, when Detroit earned slightly fewer than four out of every five pickup truck sales.

In 2007,  the Toyota Tundra was a newly designed truck. "Import" nameplates included the Honda Ridgeline, Isuzu i-Series, Mazda B-Series, Mitsubishi Raider, Nissan Frontier, Nissan Titan, Subaru Baja (1127 sales!), and the two Toyotas. Their 558,915 total sales included the Tundra's best ever total of 196,555 units – Tundra sales in 2015 were 40% off that pace – and 296,614 small/midsize truck sales. In 2015, these Japanese automakers sold 373,919 total trucks; 242,899 small/midsize pickups.


The truck market as a whole is not as large now as it was eight years ago. In 2007, sales decreased 6% to 2,726,459 units. Year-over-year, sales in 2015 increased 10% to 2,544,589 units, 7% lower than 2007's total.

Yet with half as any nameplates now as in 2007, Detroit's automakers sold 3126 more pickup trucks in 2015 than in 2007. How? Despite the loss of Cadillac Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet SS, Dodge Dakota, and Ford Ranger volume, the class-leading Ford F-Series sells more often now than in 2007, GM's full-size trucks are only slightly south of flat, Ram P/U sales are up 26%, and GM's midsize twins jumped 19%.

As for the definition of "import," remember the assembly location of all five continuing Japanese pickup trucks. The Toyota Tacoma is assembled in Tijuana, Mexico, and in San Antonio, Texas. The Toyota Tundra is built in the same San Antonio, Texas, facility. Nissan builds its Titans and Frontiers in Canton, Mississippi. The Honda Ridgeline, formerly built in Canada, is now produced in Lincoln, Alabama.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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