Q3 2023 Full-Size Truck Sales Report: Underdogs See a Major Surge, While Ram Loses Some Ground

Some of you guys really love the Nissan Titan now that it's going away, huh?

Q3 2023 full-size truck sales

Full-size trucks saw a massive surge in sales last quarter, for the most part.

Automakers are reporting their quarterly sales figures and most experienced double-digit growth in the three-month period spanning July 1 to September 30. In fact, even some models you don’t normally see in the “there’s a winner” category, like the Nissan Titan, saw a significant (by percentage) bump in sales. We’ll get back to that in a moment.

On the whole, was there a massive shift from the usual outcome? Apart from the sheer volume of trucks you all bought over the past three months compared to this time last year, no. The Ford F-Series is still the most popular single model lineup by a comfortable margin, though General Motors did post significant gains across the board — closing the gap between the two Detroit rivals.

While F-Series sales increased a respectable 13.6% quarter-over-quarter, GM trucks enjoyed a 28.7% increase, excluding the brand’s medium-duty and electric trucks. These figures represent both half-ton and HD pickup sales since neither Ford nor Stellantis break out their lighter full-size trucks from their heavy-duty sales totals.

(Image: GMC)

Third-quarter 2023 sales charts (July through September):

ModelQ3 2023Q3 2022Change (%)
GM (COMBINED)*212,534165,132+28.7%
Ford F-Series (w/o Lightning, Med. Duty/”Heavy Trucks”)186,974161,498+13.6%
Chevy Silverado (w/o Med. Duty, EV)139,315114,963+21.2%
Ram Trucks109,391118,106-7.4%
GMC Sierra73,21950,169+45.9%
Toyota Tundra32,95330,203+9.1%
Nissan Titan4,8571,275+280.9%
Electric Trucks:
Rivian EV**15,5646,584+136.4%
F-150 Lightning EV3,5036,464-45.8%
GMC Hummer EV1,167411+183.9%
Chevy Silverado EV 180New model
*Combined GM sales include the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra.
**Rivian sales include both the R1T pickup and R1S SUV – the company does not break out deliveries by individual model.

One of the most interesting outcomes of the past three months, though, is how what I normally deem the “underdog” trucks performed. That is, trucks outside the models you always see and hear about in the mainstream: the Ford F-Series, the Chevy Silverado, Ram trucks and the Toyota Tundra. The GMC Sierra, for example, surged by 45.9% — a rate more than double that of the Silverado. While both trucks are fundamentally identical, the vast majority of buyers gravitate toward Chevrolet. This time around, though, folks opting for the Sierra closed the gap to less than 2-to-1 in Chevy’s favor.

The Nissan Titan, as well, is technically a huge winner this past quarter. Now, in terms of actual volume, the Mississippi-built Titan is a blip on the radar, even compared to the Toyota Tundra. Nevertheless, sales picked up nearly 300%, likely because Nissan finally dropped the news that its half-ton contender is going away next year. Sales typically surge when an automaker kills off a particular model, and it appears the Titan is no exception.

Since it is going away, Nissan dealers are offering some screaming deals on new Titans. The automaker is even offering 0% financing and $1,500 loyalty cash on 5-year loans as well as a host of other enticing offers, and low-interest loans are practically worth their wait in gold right now. The average new auto loan interest rate, for reference, is around 7.5% as of last month.

Electric trucks are (sort of) gaining momentum Especially the GMC Hummer EV

Speaking of blips on the radar, full-size truck sales still lean heavily in favor of internal combustion models. That’s obviously no surprise, but electric trucks are nevertheless picking up sales, with the exception (at least for the third-quarter) of the Ford F-150 Lightning.

While Ford did not address the Lightning’s 45.8% drop in sales between July and September, the company did say in its statement the model “is expected to produce sales increases in Q4, as capacity actions at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center are realized.” That could, at least indirectly, reference two events: Ford’s heavier investment in electric vehicles causing a short-term production lag, and the brand’s stop-build order earlier this year. That shutdown lasted six weeks into mid-March, which may have had a knock-on effect for deliveries in late Q2 and early Q3 as Ford worked to ramp production back up again.

On another note, inventories don’t seem particularly tight at the moment, with a cursory nationwide search revealing more than 3,600 F-150 Lightning listings nationwide. Several dealers also seem to be dropping prices by $7,500 or more, which signals people just aren’t buying Lightnings at Ford’s suggested prices, either.

Looking at the other side of the production token, GM does seem to be ironing out its production issues with the GMC Hummer EV. While it sold just 49 trucks in the first six months of 2023, dealers shifted 1,167 examples in the third quarter alone. That suggests the company’s “Factory Zero” in Detroit is finally able to crank trucks out in decent numbers, which will hopefully put the kibosh on utterly outrageous dealer markups. Then again, a friend of ours just sent in this GMC Hummer EV for sale in Maryland…so I guess not.

Finally, while it’s burning through buckets of cash, Rivian has been picking up steam over the past several months. Quarterly deliveries are up 136.4%, while the automaker continues to close in on its goal to deliver 1,000 vehicles each week. With a strong fourth quarter to close out the year, it may just clinch that accomplishment. It has about 16,000 units to go, as we can see in the year-to-date figures below.

Year-to-date 2023 sales (January through September):

ModelYTD 2023YTD 2022Change (%)
GM (COMBINED)*619,612543,586+14.0%
Ford F-Series (w/ Lightning, w/o Med.Duty)561,110458,547+22.7%
Chevy Silverado (w/o Med.Duty)403,385374,479+7.7%
Ram Trucks332,440363,089-8.4%
GMC Sierra216,227169,107+27.9%
Toyota Tundra92,68874,519+24.4%
Nissan Titan15,40712,487+23.4%
Electric Trucks:
F-150 Lightning EV12,2608,760+40%
GMC Hummer EV1,216782+55.5%
Chevy Silverado EV180New model
*Combined GM sales include the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra.
**Rivian sales include both the R1T pickup and R1S SUV – the company does not break out deliveries by individual model.

Zoom out from a quarterly view to the nine months we’ve been through this year, and the numbers more or less paint a similar story. However, it’s worth noting that Ford’s year-to-date upswing is still larger than GM’s. So, over all of 2023 customers bought new Ford F-Series trucks at a greater rate than Chevrolet and GMC, though GM’s dealers closed the gap in the third quarter.

One outlier in both the quarterly and year-to-date figures is Ram. Ram Trucks is the only brand to actually lose momentum from the same periods in 2022, and sales dropped off by about 7 to 8% in both instances. Apart from the HD Rebel and a few minor changes for its 2023 models, though, Ram doesn’t yet have new product to entice buyers over to their brand. Contrast that with Ford’s new Super Duty as well as GM’s 2024 model year updates to its own heavy-duty trucks, and you start to understand why Ram is probably lagging behind at the moment. Both its rivals also updated their half-ton trucks more recently than the Ram 1500, which has been on sale with few changes (apart from the TRX model) since 2019.

We do expect Ram to debut and launch its midcycle refresh for its 1500 trucks next year, including a new powertrain option. The Ram 1500 REV electric truck is also on the horizon, so the brand may be able to claw some sales away from Ford and GM around this time in 2024.

What effect will the UAW strike have at the end of this year?

One wild card for the Big Three is the ongoing United Auto Workers (UAW) strike. Since September 14, workers on the picket line have stopped production on certain models, with union leaders expanding their efforts in a targeted fashion against more facilities each week automakers don’t reach a deal.

For now, union employees at the Big Three’s truck plants are still on the assembly line, rather than the picket line. However, as the strike drags on, UAW leadership may decide to announce a walkout against Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan and Louisville, Kentucky truck plants, GM’s plants in Flint, Michigan and Fort Wayne, Indiana, as well as Ram’s Warren Truck Plant in Michigan, among others. Doing so will absolutely disrupt truck production and sales, which could seriously impact how this picture looks the next time we get updated numbers in January.