An earlier version of this story inadvertently included an unrelated data table. The correct table has been inserted.
DETROIT -- The autumn pickup wars have been joined, with Ford aggressively defending its segment leadership against redesigned rivals from General Motors and Chrysler Group's Ram brand.
Ford's F series continues to lead full-sized pickups with 39.4 percent of the market through August. (See chart, below.) There's a lot at stake as football season starts and truckmakers roll out promotional campaigns.
"Ford will defend that turf," said Tom Libby, analyst for Polk. "If they can't defend it with the product, they'll defend it with incentives. The benefits to them of having the most popular vehicle in the country are huge. For the next several months they'll be in a defensive situation. They now have the oldest product in the segment, so for the next 10 months they'll have to defend it with other means."
Ford won't begin making its 2014 models until late October or early November. Ford is expected to launch the next-generation F-series pickup as a 2015 model in the second half of 2014. Ram introduced its new 1500 in the last quarter of 2012, while the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra began hitting the market this summer.
Said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at Edmunds.com: "The truck market is seeing release of a lot of pent-up demand. GM has had better luck launching a new product while that is happening. But Ford has a lot of loyalty."
Edmunds.com incentive numbers show that Chevrolet and Ram, despite having 2014 models in their mix, spent more than Ford in average incentives per vehicle in August. (See chart.) Though Chevrolet spent more than Ford, Chevrolet was selling down 2013 models in August and now has a higher percentage of 2014s in the market.
Incentives are higher in Texas, the nation's top truck battleground, accounting for 1 in 6 pickups sold nationally.
Rox Covert, who owns two Chevy stores near Austin, Texas, says Ford and Ram have gotten more aggressive with incentives to blunt GM's pickup launches. He has seen some Ford dealers advertise $12,000 in savings on the F-150.