Truck Sales Tough It Out and Climb to the Top


Pickup trucks. Considering the economy, who’d have thought?

Three of the top five selling vehicles in the United States are pickup trucks: the Ford F Series, the Chevy Silverado and the Dodge Ram. These three icons of the American automotive industry together sold over 121,000 units in September 2013 alone. That’s more than the Civic, the Accord, the Corolla, the CR-V and the Matrix combined.

dodge ramPhoto by Alex Krasavtsev

If you keep your ear to the ground, you might be confused by these numbers. The price of fuel is supposed to be through the roof, and the green tax relief should be all the reason you need to go with the purchase of a shiny new hybrid. So, what’s with the truck sales? Are all of these truck purchases the result of stubborn Americans, or are their underlying factors?

There are a few factors worth consideration that should give us a better understanding as to why trucks are flying off the lots these days. First, fuel. The cost of fuel seems to have stopped rising, and it even appears to be somewhat on the decline. In 2011, gas was around $4 a gallon. Since the beginning of 2013, with a few peaks and valleys here and there, prices have hovered near the $3.50 mark. In September, prices began to fall again, averaging below $3.25 a gallon by the end of the month. Falling gas prices, and especially the steep drop in the buying month, could have pushed truck sales up in September.

ford f-150 desertPhoto by Hisham Binsuwaif

Additionally, the fuel mileage on these trucks is improving. The Ford F-150 clocked in at only 18 mpg highway in 2005. The 2013 model gets 22 mpg highway. While that may not add up to a mountain of cash, it does surpass the magic 20 mile mark, giving consumers more confidence and peace of mind.

ford f-150 suburbsPhoto by RSBP

The Chevy Silverado is also improving its fuel efficiency. The 2005 version of the Silverado Hybrid boasted only 19 mpg highway. The 2013 edition reaches 23 mpg.

chevy silveradoPhoto by Tojosan

The truck market is certainly beginning to change, and so are employment rates. While the percentage of unemployed persons has stubbornly remained at over 15%, that percentage fell to 7.2% in September. People are getting back to work, and those people have at least SOME money to spend on a car – just not enough to afford an expensive hybrid. Consider that the MSRP of the 2013 Dodge Ram is $23,000 while the Honda Accord Hybrid starts at $39,000.

The fact that pickup trucks are once again dominating the American car market is of little surprise to those who follow the industry. Tradition and status are paramount in the United States, and while Americans will often seek to break from hose habits, the economic encouragement offered by the recent fuel and price advantages are of little incentive to do so. Look for Ford and Chevy to remain numbers 1 and 2 for some time to come.

Emily Turberville-Tully, who writes for, is a world traveler with her husband, Chris who has visited 80 countries already. When not traveling abroad or driving the English countryside, Emily and Chris enjoy spending time with their two young sons.


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