Ford F-150 Pickups Dominated Vehicle Sales in 2020

Pickups kill at 3 times the rate of cars. We have to stop this.

Ford F-150


The Ford Motor Company sold 787,422 F-series trucks in 2020. iSeeCars analyst Karl Brauer says “The Ford F-150 has been America’s undisputed best-selling new car for over 40 years, and the popularity of pickup trucks help contribute to its high volume of sales.” In the fourth quarter, Ford sold 288,698 pickups, 216,732 SUVs, and just 37,319 cars.

I have to tread carefully, complaining about this; when I wrote "Why All Is Lost: Ford Sells an F150 Every 35 Seconds" two years ago I got 172 comments calling me an idiot with statements like:

"City slickers. Not very knowledgeable about the great wide open, are you? Like to see anyone get over the pass into Jackson, Wyoming, in the winter in an average electric vehicle. Or tow a (small) travel trailer up to 12,000 feet in elevation at any time of the year. Or carry three or four people and their several days' worth of hunting or fishing gear. Or tow a boat, motor or drift, large enough and safe enough for fishing reservoirs and fast-running rivers...Reality check: Not all of us live on the coasts, in very large cities with mild weather, few hills, and mass transit easily available. Evidently, a good many of those cities' citizens never leave the sheltered confines of their city limits, either."

I had no idea that 74% of Americans did all these things, especially after looking at the iSeeCars list of what the most popular vehicle in the 50 most populous cities are (Jackson, Wyoming didn't make the list). There are a lot of city slickers driving these things.

Most popular cars


In fact, outside of those cosmopolitan liberal effete cities like Los Angeles, Miami, and San Diego, everybody is driving SUVs or pickups. Even the commies in New York City pick the Jeep Grand Cherokee first. Is everybody hunting and fishing and doing construction?

statistics on deaths

New Scientist

We have written so many posts about how pickup trucks kill pedestrians and cyclists at two to three times the rate that regular cars do. It didn't seem much to ask just that SUVs and light trucks be held to the same standards as cars for pedestrian and cyclist safety. But they are not; it is not even considered in the current New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has said that they are "disproportionately likely to kill."

Ford pickup

Lloyd Alter

"The elevated injury risk associated with LTVs (light truck vehicles, the technical name for SUVs and pickup trucks) seems to stem from their higher leading edge, which tends to impart greater injury to the middle and upper body (including the thorax and abdomen) than cars, which instead tend to cause injury to the lower extremities."

It's different in Europe, where the Euro-NCAP standards test for pedestrian safety.

Ford Transit with a low front end
Ford Transit with a low front end.


But then every pickup truck would have a front end like the Euro-designed Ford Transit, low enough so that the pedestrian isn't hit by a moving wall, with great visibility and shock absorption built in. We can't have that.

Ford on Cliff


So here we are again, admiring the best selling vehicle in America in its natural element, talking once again about how their sales keep growing, and wondering what can be done to get people into smaller vehicles that use less fuel, take up less space, and don't kill as many people.

David Zipper, a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Taubman Center for State and Local Government, writes in Citylab that the election might make a difference:

"Under President Obama, NHTSA attempted to modernize NCAP, proposing revisions in December 2015 that included evaluation of a vehicle’s risk to pedestrians (though not to cyclists). But those changes were not finalized before President Trump took office, and his administration has not moved them forward... Regardless, the Biden administration can reshape the program after taking office, and the process need not take long. NCAP revisions require neither Congressional approval nor the navigation of a byzantine regulatory process; USDOT can simply issue new guidance in the Federal Register. NCAP adjustments can become final in a matter of months."

Perhaps he will do it. If he has been in his old Corvette with his rear end a foot off the ground on a road surrounded by giant pickups and SUVs, he will likely want to level the playing field.