The wildly popular Ford F-150 pickup truck and the rest of the F-Series vehicles rank second only to the iPhone when it comes to branded consumer-product sales.
The iPhone generated $55 billion in revenue, and the F-Series brought in $42 billion for Ford Motor Co. in 2019, according to a new economic analysis from the Boston Consulting Group.
That means the F-Series generated more in revenue than the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League combined — which was $40 billion, the analysis showed.
All by itself, the F-Series full-size pickup truck franchise within Ford is so big that it would make the list of Fortune 100 companies.
"It is impossible to overstate the economic significance of the Ford F-150 to Ford and to the U.S. economy," said market analyst Jon Gabrielsen. "The Ford F-150 is the single highest-volume vehicle sold in the U.S. and has been for years."
The newly designed F-150 will be released on Thursday. Truck sales are of top-line importance to Minnesota auto dealers.
As of the beginning of the year, Minnesota is the leader in the percentage of new vehicles sold that are SUVs, crossovers and trucks at 82%, according to the Greater Metropolitan Automobile Dealers Association. Nationwide, light-truck sales catapulted to a record 12.2 million units last year, or 72% of all vehicles.
The bestselling F-150 and its F-Series siblings — there were 186,562 sold in the first quarter of this year on top of 896,526 sold in 2019 — are more important now than ever because the company has forecast a $5 billion loss in the second quarter after a two-month industry shutdown related to the coronavirus.
The F-150 is sometimes called the "golden goose" by analysts, and they said Ford's financial health depends on the F-Series.
F-150 prices can start at $28,745 and exceed $75,000 with, as Ford executives like to say, "all the bells and whistles." The average cost of the F-Series is $51,585.
The Ford F-150 was the most considered pickup truck among shoppers by a wide margin during the first three months of this year, according to Kelley Blue Book.
"If one looked at a bar graph showing sales of every vehicle ever conceived and sold by mankind, that bar graph looks roughly like a side profile of a lawn with a dandelion in it, That dandelion is the F-Series," said Eric Noble, president of the CarLab, a car-design consultancy based in Orange County, Calif.
At Ford's Dearborn, Mich., truck plant, more than 1,300 workers stream into the factory for the 6 a.m. shift. Overall, 4,000 people work there.
"We produce over 1,000 trucks a day," said plant manager Debbie Manzano, who oversees the massive operation that builds the Ford F-150 seven days a week.
"It's almost like having a small city inside the plant," she said, describing the sound of a factory humming. "You can hear the clicking. It's kind of got an energy about it, a vibe. … And better than every 60 seconds, we've got a truck coming off the line."
Boston Consulting said the Ford F-Series supports about 500,000 U.S. jobs through production and sales, representing 13 to 14 jobs for every direct Ford employee working on F-Series.
"It's a standout," said Michael Booker, senior partner at Boston Consulting.
Currently, the F-150 is the oldest pickup made by Detroit's Big 3, competing with the Chevy Silverado and Ram 1500.
"Without a doubt, the F-Series, and specifically the F-150, is the segment leader in consideration and in key attributes that matter most to truck buyers — safety, driving comfort and performance," said Vanessa Ton, senior industry intelligence manager at Kelley Blue Book. "Ford is well above average in every category, near the top in most. That's the definition of a dominant product."