America’s best-selling car brand is not American

What are we talking about?

What are we talking about?

For a few years, Ford has been calling itself “America’s best-selling brand,” and it is doing it again. Of course, it is not true. Best-selling auto brand, perhaps, depending on, to paraphrase Bill Clinton, what the definition of “auto” is. Best-selling brand, no way. Bud Light for instance sold 295,365,100 cases of beer last year, compared with Ford’s 2,376,841 cars and trucks. Ground coffee? Folgers, more than a billion. Cigarettes? Marlboro, 114.7 billion in 2013.

Fordtweet

But then, of course everybody will understand that Ford is talking about being No. 1 among auto brands, not all brands. “It’s somewhat implicit,” Ford’s chief analyst Erich Merkle told Advertising Age in 2013. O.K., point taken. Then what about “best-selling car brand?”

 

2014 best selling car brands U.S.
Rank Make 2014 Car share
1 Toyota   1,085,924 13.7%
2 Chevrolet      880,683 11.1%
3 Honda      793,026 10.0%
4 Nissan      789,898 10.0%
5 Ford      762,545 9.6%
6 Hyundai      570,505 7.2%
7 Kia      420,202 5.3%
8 Volkswagen      333,785 4.2%
9 Subaru      282,052 3.6%
10 Dodge      282,033 3.6%
Source: Automotive News

Would you believe it, America’s best-selling car brand 2014 was Toyota, by a wide margin. According to data compiled by Automotive News, Toyota sold more than a million cars in America last year, followed by Chevrolet, and two more Japanese, before Ford did show up in place 5.

2014 best selling truck brands U.S.
Rank Make 2014 Truck share
1 Ford  1,614,296 18.8%
2 Chevrolet  1,152,759 13.4%
3 Toyota     918,449 10.7%
4 Jeep     692,348 8.1%
5 Honda     580,003 6.7%
6 GMC     501,853 5.8%
7 Nissan     479,667 5.6%
8 Ram     469,139 5.5%
9 Dodge     292,122 3.4%
10 Subaru     231,641 2.7%
Source: Automotive News

America’s best-selling truck brand of course is Ford, there is no doubt about that. In 2014, Ford sold nearly half a million more trucks than #2 Chevrolet. Amazingly, Toyota, which, according to lore, can’t find truck sales with both hands, moved 918,000 of America’s most favorite conveyance in 2014, only 234,000 fewer than Chevrolet.

2014 best selling vehicle brands U.S.
Rank Make 2014 Share
1 Ford        2,376,841 14.4%
2 Chevrolet        2,033,442 12.3%
3 Toyota        2,004,373 12.1%
4 Honda        1,373,029 8.3%
5 Nissan        1,269,565 7.7%
6 Hyundai          725,718 4.4%
7 Jeep          692,348 4.2%
8 Kia          580,234 3.5%
9 Dodge          574,155 3.5%
10 Subaru          513,693 3.1%
Source: Automotive News

Overall, trucks and cars together, Ford rules solidly as #1 before Chevrolet, with Toyota not far behind.

This exercise just goes to show how much the American auto industry depends on the truck. In profits, the dependence is much higher than what unit sales suggest. Electric vehicles may get all the headlines these days. Sports cars may make for the fastest beating hearts and fingers amongst America’s bloggerati. The truck delivers the bacon.