When Selling a Truck Every 49 Seconds Is a Disappointment

Ford's F-Series is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for the 41st straight year, but sales are down precipitously from their high

The Ford Super Duty F-250 Tremor driving off-road. F-Series trucks were once again the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 2022.
The Ford F-Series holds onto its crown, but it's not quite as shiny.

Ford did it again: The F-Series was the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. in 2022. While the exact tally isn’t in yet, the automaker confirmed on Tuesday that sales for the pickups passed the 640,000 mark, making it the 41st year in a row it was the best-selling vehicle in America, and the 46th year in a row it was the best-selling truck.

Part of the success of the F-Series is that it includes a wide-range of trucks, from the consumer-facing F-150 to the worksite-favored Super Duty pickups to the new electric F-150 Lightning. In contrast, the Toyota RAV4, one of the consistent sales leaders that’s not a truck, doesn’t have as many variants and isn’t as big of a pull for fleet purchases. 

To celebrate the continued dominance of the F-Series, a nameplate that is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2023, Ford released some interesting stats in its announcement. For one, if 640,000 trucks is too large of a number to truly comprehend, think about it this way: if you placed all of those pickups bumper to bumper they would stretch longer than the driving route from Los Angeles to Detroit. Put another way, by selling 640,000 trucks that means Ford sold an F-Series pickup every 49 seconds for the entire year. That means, during the time it’s taken to read this story so far, Ford has sold at least two more trucks (and remember, this is just the F-Series, they’re not including the Maverick or Ranger in these numbers). 

Selling a vehicle every 49 seconds for 365 days sounds like an incontrovertible mark of success, but while Ford is certainly upbeat in its press release, and can’t complain when they’ve beat out every other automaker in the U.S. market in this measurement, the F-Series sales this year are actually the continuation of a decline that began in 2019 and took hold in earnest in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Ford hit an all-time high for F-Series sales in the U.S. in 2004 with a record 939,511 vehicles sold, then dropped off to a low around 400,000 in 2009 and climbed back up to a decade high of 909,330 in 2018. (That’s one truck sold roughly every 35 seconds.) Things were relatively stable in 2019, then the pandemic happened, and sales have been on the decline ever since. 

The year-over-year drop in F-Series sales from 2021 to 2022 is roughly 12%, which is close to the expected 8% sales decline across the U.S. market. As Cox Automotive details, the industry dealt with opposing problems in the first and second halves of the year: starting 2022 with supply issues lingering from the pandemic, then ending the year with demand issues, as dealer lots filled back up but rising interest rates kept buyers away. 

So while the F-Series isn’t anywhere near its sales peak, don’t feel too bad for Ford. Their truck is still the American leader in a topsy-turvy auto industry. Instead, feel bad for Tesla (if not Elon Musk himself), as their stock took a big hit following an underwhelming deliveries report.

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