Trucks Outsell Cars, a Good Sign for U.S Economy


  • 2014 Ford F-150 Picture

    2014 Ford F-150 Picture

    Pickups and other light trucks, including the 2014 Ford F-150, continue to outsell passenger cars. | March 19, 2014

Just the Facts:
  • Pickups and other light trucks continue to outsell passenger cars, according to Edmunds' data, and that could be a good sign for the U.S. economy.
  • Light trucks currently account for 51.2 percent of the market, while monthly truck sales have outpaced cars continuously since last September.
  • Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds senior analyst and director of pricing and industry analysis, notes: "2013 saw the highest market share for large trucks since 2007."

DETROIT — Pickups and other light trucks continue to outsell passenger cars, according to Edmunds' data, and that could be a good sign for the U.S. economy.

Light trucks currently account for 51.2 percent of the market, while monthly truck sales have outpaced cars continuously since last September. Conversely, some of the worst years for truck sales were those following the economic downturn that began in 2008.

Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds senior analyst and director of pricing and industry analysis, notes: "2013 saw the highest market share for large trucks since 2007."

She added: "New product, moderate gas prices and delayed pent-up demand are seen as the key drivers. It seems as if there was a longer delay in getting large truck buyers back in the new-vehicle market when compared to other segments.

"Also, the compact crossover segment has seen tremendous growth due to the fact it is a sensible car substitute in both size, price and fuel economy and is popular among Baby Boomers who largely drive the new-car market."

According to a number of sources, including TD Economics, which analyzes financial information for investors, truck sales are closely tied to the new-housing market, which is a key indicator of general economic health. And construction companies buy a lot of light trucks when their business is doing well.

According to the TD Economics 2014-'15 special report on U.S. Auto Sales: "Pickup trucks are expected to be a standout light vehicle category throughout our forecast period. An improved new housing construction climate — as proxied by the level of housing starts — will help support vehicle demand in this category."

Now that the economy is getting back on track, car shoppers appear to be feeling confident enough to invest in new trucks.

The top-selling vehicle in 2013 — as has been the case for more than 30 years — was the Ford F-150. Its 521,515 sales, beat the 2nd-place Honda Accord by a healthy 156,340 units. And GM sold 353,456 examples of its Chevrolet Silverado 1500, putting it in 4th place on the top-ten list, just below the Toyota Corolla.

The upward trend is expected to continue, at least for the next couple years. Despite the dip in home construction in January and February, generally attributed to the particularly harsh weather in many parts of the country, TD Economics is predicting growth through 2015. The company's housing forecast says that 2015 will see almost 1.5 million new homes built, compared to 927,000 last year.

And if sales of pickups and light trucks maintain their historical tie to the housing market, those vehicles should continue to outpace car sales for the foreseeable future.

Edmunds says: We love our pickups and, apparently, new houses.

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