When the economy tanked and gas prices soared, many pickup truck owners held onto their existing vehicles. But in the past few months, market economics have changed. Dealers are not only advertising pickup trucks to the usual audiences, they’re also anticipating selling trucks to new kinds of buyers.
The pickup truck market is segmented into the large and lightweight categories. For the most part, sales of the larger pickups are closely linked to housing starts. When contractors start getting calls for more work ranging from plumbing installations to landscape jobs, they feel more confident about buying a new truck. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, sales of larger pickups are up 13% this year. The continued good news on the housing front has economists predicting that the demand for larger trucks should last at least another year.
While much has been made of the Millennial generation and their reluctance to purchase vehicles of any sort, Chrysler execs believe active young men still want a lightweight pickup. These kinds of vehicles allow them to enjoy sports like fishing or mountain biking. These same execs also believe the market for lightweight pickups will benefit from changes in Baby Boomer lifestyles. Many Boomers own larger pickups and they’re looking to downsize. In many cases, the right vehicle will be a lightweight pickup.
The big U.S. automakers have been discontinuing lightweight pickup production but GM has announced that it will re-enter the category before long. In the meantime, Toyota, Honda and Nissan are battling for market share with their models. Analysts believe that when U.S. manufacturers roll out new products with the right mileage statistics and pricing options, sales for lightweight pickups will jump.
The growing consumer interest in this market will likely prompt both manufacturers and dealers to put more marketing muscle behind the pickup truck category.[Sources: Ramsey, Michael. Housing Starts Boost Pickup-Truck Sales. Blogs.WSJ.com. 24 Jul. 2012. Web. 1 Aug. 2012; Snavely, Brent. Chrysler exec sees market for small pickup. Detroit Free Press. 6 Jul. 2012. Web. 1 Aug. 2012]