- Pickup truck sales outpaced passenger car sales in April, according to Bloomberg.
- Five years ago, car sales had an advantage of about 500,000 units per month.
- Strong truck sales are, in part, due to attractive financing options.
- Detroit’s Big Three are also prioritizing truck sales over small cars.
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US buyers’ unquenchable thirst for pickup trucks has finally come to a head: Pickups officially outsold regular passenger cars in the US in April. It was already trending this way, so it’s not really a surprise that it’s now happened.
Pickups sold by market power hitters such as Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler surpassed cars by more than 17,000 units last month, reports Bloomberg, citing data gathered by market-research company Autodata Corp. The data shows that just five years ago, cars were outselling trucks by about 500,000 units per month.
Truck sales in the US have been trending upward for years now while car sales slide the opposite way. It should be noted, however, that auto sales in general are weird right now: Sales reports were miserable for most manufacturers aside from Tesla in Q1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that trend mostly continued into April.
Either way, Bloomberg credited a few factors for the trucks’ newfound market domination.
First, it said deliveries of both pickups and regular cars stemming from Detroit are focused more in the middle of the country rather than in the coastal regions — which also happen to be the states that introduced stay-at-home orders later than those on the coasts.
Second, Bloomberg reports that truck sales were helped along with 0% financing offers that could stretch out the loans for as long as seven years.
“Even in a pandemic there are some offers too good to pass up,” Charlie Chesbrough, Cox Automotive’s senior economist, told Bloomberg on Monday. “Many of our daily tracking numbers were showing strong interest in 0% financing offers, as well as a lot of interest in pickup trucks.”
Additionally, gas prices have been very low, so it’s likely buyers aren’t immediately worrying about buying what’s efficient — only what’s big.
US buyers have shown an unprecedented appetite for pickup trucks and other large vehicles in recent years, and automakers have responded in kind.
In 2018, General Motors made the decision to drop sedans and small cars such as the Chevy Volt, Cadillac CT6, Cadillac XTS, Chevy Cruze, Chevy Impala, and Buick LaCrosse in order to focus more on SUVs and trucks. Following that, Buick announced it would drop the Regal, which will soon leave the brand with an all-SUV lineup.
Ford, too, announced in 2018 that it would stop selling passenger cars, with the exception of the Mustang and the Focus Active, and saw 90% of its North American portfolio devoted to trucks, SUVs, and commercial vehicles.
Last year, Fiat Chrysler announced a $4.5 billion investment for new Jeep SUVs. And despite negative FCA sales overall, Ram pickup sales still increased by 7% in the first quarter of 2020.
So, congratulations to the trucks. You’ve won.
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