Ford Motor Company executives have stated in not-so-many words that over the next few years, all of their development projects will be focused on their trucks and SUVs while their sedan lineup is trimmed to nearly nothing. Consumer trends over the past few years have shown that American drivers prefer these larger vehicles, so focusing more energy on your strongest-selling models makes sense.
It is inevitable that in a discussion about the growing truck and SUV sales numbers, someone will insist that as gas prices rise, consumers will become less likely to buy one of these large vehicles. However, as gas prices have risen steadily over the course of the past two years, sales of Ford trucks – the company’s largest and most inefficient vehicles – have continued to rise. In fact, over the course of the past year, the F-Series truck has posted the best monthly sales numbers since the early 2000s.
Average Fuel Prices
The website YCharts.com has a great system to display the average gasoline price in the US over the course of the past decade. In their system, I found that at the end of May 2018, the average price of all grades of gasoline sold in the USA was $3.04. At the end of April, the average US retail gasoline price per gallon was $2.96, so over the past month, gasoline has increased in price by 8 cents. At the beginning of the 2018 calendar year, the average price was $2.64, so prices have risen by 40 cents per gallon in the first five months of the year and one year ago – at the end of May 2017 – the average price per gallon was $2.51, 53 cents below the current average number.
If you look back through this data, you will find that the average gas prices in the US have been rising steadily since February 2016, when the prices effectively bottomed out at $1.83 per gallon. In the 27 months since then in which this information has been reported, gas prices have risen by $1.21 or about 67%.
Ford Truck Sales Vs Fuel Prices
If the idea that the sales of large trucks are inversely-proportional to the price of gasoline, we should see a decline in sales over that 27-month period, but it is exactly the opposite. Even as fuel prices have risen steadily, so have Ford F-Series truck sales. In May 2018, the Motor Company sold 84,639 new F-Series pickups, up 11.3% from the same month the year before while also being the best May for truck sales since 2000.
Year-over-year sales is the most popular metric for looking at sales growth numbers for a vehicle, as buyer trends tend to be similar during the various times of the year. For example, more people buy convertibles and performance cars heading into spring than heading into winter, while vehicles like trucks and SUVs generally see stronger number heading into months with rough weather.
The Ford F-Series pickup has posted a year-over-year gain in each and every month since April of 2017. That is 13-consecutive months of sales growth among those vehicles which cost the most to fill up, with these full-sized trucks posting their best monthly sales numbers in almost twenty years – all while fuel prices have nearly doubled.
At some point, fuel prices may get high enough to drive truck buyers towards smaller vehicles, but right now, the Ford F-Series is completely unaffected by the steady rise in fuel prices. This shows that Ford’s plan to focus on trucks and SUVs might not be all-that-heavily impacted if gasoline prices continue to inch upwards, but only time will tell.
In the meantime, the Ford F-Series is selling very well and with the new Ranger on the horizon, the Motor Company is likely to post growing truck sales numbers into the coming year even with higher fuel prices.