Retail Front

Americans Back In Love With Trucks

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Ford F-150

So much for America’s break up with pickups.

When fuel prices spiked in 2008, U.S. consumers fell out of love with their fullsize trucks and truck-based vehicles that had a taste for finer things, such as $4 a gallon gasoline.

Analysts questioned whether trucks could ever get their groove back. The experts wondered if anyone, except for tradesmen and the like, would ever find pickups alluring enough to buy again for those cool-Joe commutes to the office.

When truck sales fell, new suitors of a smaller stature showed up fast, cars such as the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris. Auto makers and auto shows started thinking and talking small.

So what are we to make of Kelley Blue Book’s latest Market Intelligence Brand Watch study? It says buyer consideration for large vehicles such as trucks and SUVs is “rebounding to pre-recession levels not seen since early 2007.”

New-truck consideration has outpaced non-luxury sedans, coupes and hatchbacks for the first time in three years. Trucks basked in being the most-considered new-vehicle segment in fourth-quarter ’09.

Apparently, love is a many-splendored F-150, as Ford leads consideration for truck brands at 57%. Chevrolet, GMC and Dodge follow in that order.

What’s with the reconciliation?

“The latest (findings) show how fickle American car buyers can sometimes be with regard to gas prices and the size of vehicles in which they show interest,” says James Bell, Kelley’s executive market analyst.

With gas prices stabilizing and the recession ebbing, “vehicle buyers are back to their old ways,” wanting the biggest vehicle for their money, he says. “Despite recent small-car introductions at auto shows and the changing landscape of lineups due to impending CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) regulations, U.S. auto makers are still perceived as king in the large-vehicle segment in America.”

Will Americans and their regal vehicles live happily ever after? Or will they grow apart – again? Tune in to the next episode of “As the World (and Dealership Inventory) Turns.”

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Steve Finlay

Steve Finlay is the editor of WardsAuto Dealer Business magazine and a senior editor for WardsAuto.com. His journalism career started 42 years ago as a crime reporter. A Michigan native, he likes...

Jim Ziegler

Jim Ziegler, president of Ziegler Supersystems, is a trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues.
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