Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Ford Motor Co.'s share of the U.S. full-size pickup market through August.
DETROIT — General Motors — fresh off its first monthly sales win this year against Ford in the pickup segment — is looking to gain more ground.
For September, GM is offering special leases and rebates under a Truck Month promotion and dangling bonus cash for Chevrolet dealers who hit Silverado retail sales targets. GM will pay a bonus of $1,300 for every sale of 2014 and ’15 pickups to dealers who hit their U.S. targets, according to a memo outlining the program.
“GM is throwing some money out there that we’re all chasing,” said Dominique DeNooyer, a sales manager at Robert DeNooyer Chevrolet in Holland, Mich., who says September truck sales are strong so far.
“You can tell GM is focused on getting back some market share from Ford.”
GM’s September promotion and dealer incentives are early salvos in what’s likely to be a sustained offensive to capitalize on Ford’s vulnerability as it negotiates the complicated changeover to its aluminum-body 2015 F-150, set to begin arriving in showrooms in November. With Ford’s main truck plant in Dearborn, Mich., idled until late October in preparation for the launch, the company will be hard-pressed to counter GM’s moves without the risk of running thin on inventory, analysts say.
Ford dialed back F-series incentives in August and saw market share erode because it was “likely conserving inventory given the changeover,” Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson said in a Sept. 3 research note. He said F-series incentive spending in August fell about $650 per vehicle vs. a year earlier.
Those results show a shifting dynamic in the full-size pickup market. For most of the past year, Ford and Ram offered aggressive incentives on their trucks in part to hamper the launch of GM’s redesigned 2014 pickups, which hit showrooms in the summer of 2013. Reluctant to discount its new trucks to match rivals’ deals, GM lost pickup market share early in the launch.
Now, it could be GM’s turn to play the spoiler.
In August, it offered 0 percent interest for 72 months and deferred payments for 90 days on Silverado light- and heavy-duty pickups. Silverado and GMC Sierra sales combined totaled 69,048 trucks, edging out Ford’s 68,109 total for the F series, the first time in 2014 that GM’s combined total outsold Ford. Ram sold 43,775 pickups.
GM’s pickups have regained ground over the past few months at the expense of Ford, while Ram continues to excel. Ford’s share of the U.S. full-size pickup market fell to 37.3 percent through August, down from 39.4 percent a year earlier, according to the Automotive News Data Center. The Silverado slipped to 24.9 percent from 25.9 percent. The Ram surged to 21.3 percent from 18.5 percent, and the Sierra edged up to 9.8 percent from 9.6 percent.
GM spokesman Jim Cain acknowledges that the company wants to accelerate sales in the final months of the year, typically the strongest for truck demand. But he says GM’s spending on incentives remains in line with that of Ford and less than that of Ram. In August, the average Silverado incentive was $4,224 vs. $4,049 for the F series and $5,163 for the Ram, according to J.D. Power data.
“We’ve got the newest truck in the industry and the strongest season of the year for truck sales,” Cain says. “We’re going to compete for every sale, with discipline on incentives and a strong focus on the durability and performance of our pickups.”
A Ford spokesman declined to comment.
Dealers say the payouts under the incentive program are generous and the sales objectives attainable. One Northeast Chevy dealer, who didn’t want to be identified discussing GM’s retail programs, said he expects to qualify for the maximum payout, which should net him nearly $20,000.
The incentive program includes a “fast start” component that pays extra for selling more trucks during the first 15 days of the month. GM isn’t running the program on the Sierra.
The Truck Month deal includes a package of discounts that can be stacked together to knock $9,500 off the $37,235 sticker price (including shipping) for a Silverado double cab LT All Star edition with a 4.3-liter
V-6 engine, a high-volume model.
And dealers say lease deals are the best they have been since the redesigned Silverado rolled out more than a year ago. An example: A crew cab Silverado All Star edition with the V-6 is being offered for $299 a month for three years with about $3,000 down.