GM boosts discounts on big pickups as summer truck war heats up

General Motors more than doubled discounts on some of its large pickups in July’s first 10 days after U.S. sales of the highly profitable models fell last month despite ads attacking the durability of Ford Motor Co.’s aluminum-bodied trucks.

Incentives averaged $7,962 on the Chevrolet Silverado, up 76 percent from June levels, and $9,457 on the GMC Sierra, an increase of 147 percent, according to J.D. Power data obtained by Bloomberg. Ford offered $4,457 on its F-150 and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV had discounts of $6,172 on its Ram, according to the research firm.

During June, U.S. sales fell 3.7 percent for the Silverado and 7.8 percent for the Sierra, while Ford’s F-Series deliveries surged 29 percent. The previous month, GM began running ads showing heavy workloads tearing up the aluminum beds of Ford pickups while only scratching Chevy models. Full-size pickups are hotly contested and lucrative market for U.S. automakers, which can make more than $10,000 per vehicle on them. GM is eager to end Ford’s 39-year reign as the leader in sales of those trucks.

“GM had a big promotion in June and it didn’t really move the needle so they sweetened it,” Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with researcher AutoTrader, said in an interview. “It appears from the sales numbers in June that the truck-bed ad wars did not resonate with consumers in a way that sent them to Chevy and GMC trucks.”

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GM spokesman Jim Cain said the Detroit-based company’s incentive numbers rose in early July because it ran a sale that offered 20 percent off sticker prices. He couldn’t immediately confirm the J.D. Power figures, but he didn’t challenge them.

“We had an eight-day sale that absolutely obliterated Ford and our other competition, especially in full-size pickups,” Cain said. “Fully half of the full-size pickups sold to retail customers during the first 10 days of July were a Chevrolet Silverado or a GMC Sierra.”

Even with the heavy incentives in early July, GM expects to end the month with discounts averaging the same or below those of its rivals, Cain said.

The Chevy truck-bed ads “had their desired impact” of boosting sales of GM trucks to individual customers and luring previous owners of Ford F-150 pickups, he said.

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GM is still offering 20 percent off on some models as part of its Chevy Summer Sell Down promotion, which advertises $10,042 cash back on a 2016 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab LT All Star four-wheel drive.

Ford declined to comment directly on its strategy for truck discounts.

“We take a disciplined approach to manage our business and optimize profitability,” Karl Henkel, a spokesman for the Dearborn, Michigan-based company, said in an e-mailed statement.