Carpe Diem

America’s top 20 best-selling vehicles in 2013

Model Company March YTD Sales
F SERIES TRUCK Ford 157,455
SILVERADO TRUCK Chevrolet 116,649
CAMRY Toyota 100,830
ACCORD Honda 88,427
ALTIMA Nissan 86,952
FUSION Ford 80,558
COROLLA/MATRIX Toyota 80,244
RAM PICKUP Ram 76,384
ESCAPE SUV Ford 72,983
CIVIC Honda 72,259
CR-V SUV Honda 65,375
FOCUS Ford 61,898
EQUINOX SUV Chevrolet 58,869
CRUZE Chevrolet 55,731
ELANTRA Hyundai 54,546
EXPLORER SUV Ford 51,197
MALIBU Chevrolet 49,179
RAV4 SUV Toyota 41,413
SIERRA TRUCK GMC 40,796
TACOMA TRUCK Toyota 39,467

Source: Wards Auto, which lists the top 10 best-selling passenger cars and the top 10 best-selling light trucks separately for January to March 2013. Above I’ve combined them into one table. It’s interesting that the top two best-selling vehicles are pickup trucks (Ford F-Series and Chevy Silverado), and the top selling light truck (Ford F-series) outsells the top-selling passenger car (Toyota Camry) by 56% (157,455 Ford F-series trucks vs. 100,830 Toyota Camrys).

32 thoughts on “America’s top 20 best-selling vehicles in 2013

    • Well, a lot of these models have hybrid sub-segments (like the Civic and Focus, for example). They are included in this count.

      As for straight-up electrics, none of them are on this list.

  1. I just don’t get the American fondness for pickups. Every other one of my neighbors has one, but many of them never seem to use them for hauling at all.

    • I don’t either. I have a 2004 Dodge Dakota which has been a great truck (hauling capacity of a full sized 1/2 ton, but at a compact pickup price). I hate driving it though. Pain-in-the ass to fit into a parking space (I am in an urban area) and it handles well.. like a truck.

      For day to day driving, I have a hatchback. I love this car. Its compact, yet you stuff a ton of gear into it, which more room on the roof. It is really a space efficient vehicle.

      Strangely, American consumers dislike hatchbacks.. which is something I never understood as to why.

      • Freedom of choice… used to be the American norm…. unfortunately today we have so many doo-gooders that know what is better for us it may die off just like accountability, willingness to REFUSE gov handouts and commonsense.

    • Richard Rider: “This is rather disappointing in that in 2008 with fewer models these cars constituted about 2.4% of the market — after MANY YEARS of taxpayer subsidies.”

      Why is that disappointing? As I see it, the failure of hybrid and electric car subsidies is a victory. Taxpayers can now see just how ridiculous are government subsidies.

      • John Dewey — I stand corrected. I LIKE your analysis. I’m a rabid opponent of such subsidies.

        I really was speaking from the subsidy PROPONENTS’ viewpoint. Of course, their response is likely “we need to do MORE” (subsidize more). And when that doesn’t work, they’ll campaign to pass laws that effectively banning non-hybrid competitors — or price them out of existence.

  2. When you add the Chevrolet Silverado truck and the GMC Sierra truck sales together, the total comes out to 157,445 (they are the same truck built at the same time on the same line with slightly different sheet metal and name plates) That’s only 10 trucks fewer sold than the Ford F series. It does not get any closer than that for old rivals!

    • Wow! That is close. Considering that GM has shed several brands in recent years, I’m surprised they still make two basically identical trucks. The fewer different parts made, the better.

      • As I understand it, GMC dealers generally do not sell Chevys, and Chevy dealers generally do not sell GMC’s. Having two separate brands would enable GM to sell to two dealerships in the same local market.

        • I know the GMC brand managers had to fight to keep GMC during the bankruptcy reorganization, and at least one preliminary plan had it eliminated. I worked at the factory next door to where both are built and I’ve been in the assembly plant many times. There is no difference between the Silverado and Sierra except different hoods and fenders (we made both where I worked) and a few cosmetic changes.

          Brands transcend logic, and GMC truck owners are very loyal. The word was if the GMC trucks were eliminated that GMC owners were just as likely to buy a Ford or Dodge truck as they would a Chevrolet. We can see a GMC loss without a Chevrolet gain would have given Ford big bragging rights.

          • I’ve got to believe the Buick-GMC dealers had a voice in the debate as well. If GM had eliminated the GMC brand, I don’t think those dealers could have sold Chevy trucks and competed directly with the nearby Chevy dealerships. Was GM going to sit back and watch those Buick dealerships start selling Japanese trucks and SUVs?

          • Sure, the dealerships had input as well as many other factors to keep GMC alive, but the real clincher was getting approval from Obama’s car czars to keep GMC. The first GM proposal was shot down, and GMC was almost killed to seal the second proposal.

          • Sure, the dealerships had input as well as many other factors to keep GMC alive, but the real clincher was getting approval from Obama’s car czars to keep GMC. The first GM proposal was shot down, and GMC was almost killed to seal the second proposal.

            So, it wasn’t really a business decision at all.

          • Most business decisions, or any decisions, have social, political, and economic factors in them. Which factor, if any, gets more than a 1/3 weighting usually depends on the viewpoints of those who do the deciding. Since this is an economics blog, any decision that is not heavily weighted towards economics will be judged wrong.

          • Since this is an economics blog, any decision that is not heavily weighted towards economics will be judged wrong.

            Economics being a way of measuring benefit to consumers, something that political decisions are mostly oblivious to.

          • Walt: “Most business decisions, or any decisions, have social, political, and economic factors in them.”

            The GM and Chrysler decision-making process was far more political than any I’ve witnessed and participated in at some very large corporations over the past 30 years.

            Before rescuing GM, and before ascending to the top of Southwest Bell/AT&T, Ed Whitacre was mentored by my wife’s uncle, Bob Pope. I know that Whitacre and Pope faced with some strong political forces when they led Southwest Bell (which became AT&T). But I seriously doubt that anything Ed and Bob did in the telecom industry could have prepared Whitacre for working for a government-owned and managed “private” corporation.

            Your dismissal of the primacy of the GM bailout political factors – the casual wording of your statement above – just seems naive to me, Walt. The government domination of GM and Chrysler were not anything remotely similar to the business decisions you write about and would have us believe you know about.

          • John Dewey,

            I agree politics were the most heavily weighted factor in the GM bankruptcy decisions. I don’t know about me being naive so much as a realist.

            Many business decisions lightly weight economic factors. Many of the lively discussions here center on whether that is the way it should be or if we accept that as given and make the best of a sub-optimal economic condition. Some people get to shape the policy and some people have to live with the policy.

            Ron H.

            The consumers are the same ones who are voting for the politicians who are basing their decisions on getting elected or re-elected. Who really deserves the blame?

          • walt greenway: “Many business decisions lightly weight economic factors.”

            What B.S.! Business decisions made by profit-seeking corporations do not “lightly weight” economic factors. Decisions forced by socialists probably do, but such decisions would not be called “business decisions” by anyone responsible for protecting shareholders money.

        • John Dewey, many business decisions lose money or at least don’t make as much as they could. The bean counters have been trying to kill the Chevrolet Corvette for years because they lose money on every car sold. Profit is not always measured in dollars in profit seeking businesses. Many business decisions that would legally make a lot of money are not pursued because they are not popular or palatable.

          • Walt

            The bean counters have been trying to kill the Chevrolet Corvette for years because they lose money on every car sold.

            That’s a nice sounding story, but it’s probably not exactly true. Corvette is as much an image as the Chevy bowtie. It draws customers to their local dealer’s showroom and sells a lot of Camaros to wannabes. I think most limited production cars in that price range lose money, but serve to enhance the brand image.

            Profit is not always measured in dollars in profit seeking businesses.

            If it isn’t, then someone isn’t fulfilling their fiduciary duty to shareholders.

          • John Dewey, some things are not so easily measured or valued. How do you put a dollar sign on image, prestige or bragging rights because Ford outsold Chevy? Should an automotive company be run by car guys or accountants? They very often can not agree on anything. The term “profit” is not an indefinite term in accounting, and I should not have used it the way that I did earlier.

            A lot of business decisions will not meet the accounting standards as the most profitable choice. That’s why CEOs make the big bucks.

          • Walt: ” The bean counters have been trying to kill the Chevrolet Corvette for years because they lose money on every car sold. Profit is not always measured in dollars in profit seeking businesses. ”

            “Bean counters” generally refers to accountants. In the very large corporations where I have participated in and advised the decision makers, accounting professionals have not assessed the profitability of business strategies.

            Financial analysis professionals are not “bean counters”. We are able to distinguish between easily quantifiable and less quantifiable factors which are used by decision makers. We do not try to kill product lines based solely on short term profits, but we do advise executives about the cash flow and accounting impacts of decisions they are making.

            You do seem uninformed about how top executives make decisions. There are a few exceptions, but for almost all business decisions, the financial impact – including their assessment of easily quantifiable and not so easily quantifiable factors – are the top priority for decision makers. Shareholder boards make certain that is true by implementing compensation packages which drive executives to seek short and long term profits.

            Trying to lecture me on how profit-sekking corporations make decisions is a foolish exercise for you. I have been part of the process for over 30 years. Based on what you write, I don’t believe you have.

          • John, I will concede you have much more knowledge than I do about upper-level management decisions. What we are arguing about is just the semantic difference between short-term profit making decisions and long-term vision, mission, and strategies to achieve those business objectives. As a shareholder, I am usually happy to give up short-term profits to see my shares have added future value.

  3. Look out for Hyundai motors they are gaining market share from competitors at a rapid clip.Hyundai America is growing faster than its US production can keep pace with.They just recently added I believe a third shift at the Alabama Hyundai plant just to tread water with demand.I bet within two years or so they will need to build a new factory or at least expand on its existing plants dramatically.

  4. I would imagine light duty trucks sell more because they’re often used for commercial work, and thus get a lot more miles per unit of time than a passenger car used for commuting.

  5. Over lunch, I skimmed through a government document about the restructuring of GM and Chrysler. The two companies were forced to reduce the number of dealerships faster than GM and Chrysler leaders wished to do so. The government’s Auto Team relied on “expert” advice from Boston Consulting Group, Bain Consulting, A.T. Kearney, JP Morgan, Duetsche Bank and others in deciding to dictate a much faster reduction of auto dealerships.

    So, rather than let the market decide who would be winners and losers among the many dealerships across the nation, the government instead made decisions based on consultants who likely never spent an hour of their time employed in the industry.

    That’s where Obama and his band of socialists would take us if th3ey could.

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