America has a long and storied history with Ford Motor’s F-Series pickup truck. Sold in America for over 60 years the line of pickups hasn’t just been a longtime symbol of Americana and its iron-clad glory. It’s also been the country’s top-selling vehicle (not truck, vehicle) for 23 years and top-selling truck for 31 years. But with its U.S. market share shrinking and Ford struggling, how analogous is the F-Series to America’s next great comeback?
With last year’s introduction of the new F-150 ushering the line into its twelfth generation, most Americans have grown up with the iconic truck, even playing with the countless toys inspired by the vehicle. But a changing car market in an increasingly-urban country has recently threatened the F-series’ top spot.
After finishing 2008 as America’s top-selling vehicle once again, word began to trickle that the truck’s long-standing place atop the industry was dwindling. For one thing, 2008 saw a rise in gas prices help the Honda Civic momentarily take the top spot away from Ford for the first time in decades. Even while a changing American car culture saw the pickup truck’s market share plummet, competing vehicles began targeting the F150. Chevy Trucks, who had a long association with Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock,” introduced an exclusive, new theme song from iconic rocker John Mellencamp while Dodge introduced the Dodge Ram Challenge, an over-the-top promotional series overseen by Top Gun director Tony Scott. By every indication, the F-series was in trouble.
But despite the troubled American auto industry, the Ford F150 still finished this past September as the country’s top-selling vehicle, outpacing popular sedans like Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. To be fair, Ford (who analysts have estimated saw half of their profits come just from the F-series), also saw its total sales fall by over 5% that same month. But Ford is starting to adapt to a changing market. Its Fusion mid-size Sedan has proven quite popular while its European sales have improved. But they’re most intriguing move may have been the introduction of an electric F-150. So in trying times, perhaps Americans can look at the endearing success of an iconic American vehicle for inspiration.