By on December 8, 2010

Earlier this year we took a look at our rolling 12-month sales totals chart, and found that cars had pulled away from “light trucks” (a category that includes trucks, SUVs, minivans and crossovers), prompting us to proclaim The Great American Downsizing. Well, it turns out we opined too soon. Trucks closed out the Summer strong and went on a tear during the Autumn months, to pull back to parity with their car cousins. And because light trucks are trending upwards faster than cars, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them finish the year as the better-selling segment. Of course, these numbers aren’t being driven strictly by the old-school utes of yore, although old standbys like the full-sized pickups, the Yukon XL and Ford Expedition are all up by healthy margins. Between old-school utes and the large crossovers that are replacing them, the cars just don’t stand a chance. Hit the jump for car-versus-light truck sales by manufacturer.

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24 Comments on “Chart Of The Day: Trucks Are Back, Baby...”


  • avatar

    I just spoke to one of the VPs of Ford Canada and he said that the Canadian market is seeing the same trend due to an “economic rebound”. Apparently companies are buying trucks again and fleet sales are a big part of the growth in the truck market. He expects cars, largely due to the increasingly competitive C segment, to overtake trucks in 2011.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      BC and Alberta took a brief dip in 08 and 09, but seem to be somewhat on the mend.  Saskatchewan and Manitoba have been going great guns all through the recession.

  • avatar
    caljn

    When the day comes where gasoline is taxed and priced as it should be, trucks will be dead for all except those who absolutely need one.
    This from a guy who recently purchased a 2010 Xterra.  Very inexpensive, kick ass fun and surprisingly tossable!

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      When the day comes where gasoline is taxed and priced as it should be, trucks will be dead for all except those who absolutely need one.
       
      False.  People said the same thing when US gas prices were $1.00, then $1.50, then $2.00 per gallon.  Americans will pay anything for a gallon of gas, and those who buy trucks merely to satisfy some inner need won’t be hindered by the price of gas.  Canadians drive lots of trucks, and their gas prices have always been higher than US prices.
       
      As for what the price of gas ‘should be’, you’re making a political statement, not an economic one.  The price of gas already is what it should be.  I think it should be lower, stripped of most of its taxes.  Others disagree.

    • 0 avatar
      caljn

      Yes…you got me. Most definetly a political statement.  Gas is too cheap and encourages misuse of a finite product.  Shame on me.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @caljn: Gas isn’t a finite product.  All such claims over the last 40 years have been disproven by a constant stream of cheap product.  If it really is finite, let’s see the price go up.

    • 0 avatar
      tiredoldmechanic

      Caljn,
      Here in Canada gasoline is already taxed and priced considerably higher than in the US. My local station is priced at 107.9 CDN per litre, and lots of places elsewhere in BC are higher. That works out to about $4.25 per US gallon. Unless you are the latte sipping district of the larger urban centers, you will see just as many diesel pickups, Durangos, Expeditions, Tahoes et al as you will anywhere in the US. We have had very high fuel taxes in Canada for the last 3 decades and any impact they may have had on vehicle choices was short lived. High gas prices are now a fact of life here and wages have risen to compensate for what is a very large expense for most people. The attempt at social engineering failed, and it took less than 10 years. And that’s a good thing, this ain’t Cuba after all.

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      caljin, so you’ll enjoy a non-necessary truck until higher gas taxes force you and others to not own such trucks.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    To every SUV and truck owner that panicked during the gas price spike in the summer of 08 — and traded out of their Tahoes and Expeditions losing multiple thousands, only to pay over sticker for Fits, Civics and Prii…

    Betcha feel kinda silly now, donch’a?

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Sold a Geo Metro during the summer of 07 for twice of what it was worth. I’m kickin myself in the pants for not buying one of the small 4×4 trucks off of Craigslist that were up for grabs at the time and the year afterward when prices were right because of the recession.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    During the winter when we have over a foot of snow, like now, drivers of small cars seem to have no problem with trucks when we have to pull them out after they become stuck.

  • avatar
    DaveA

    I like my F150, but I don’t ‘need it’, and I do expect gas prices to go up as the global economy rebounds.  I also think tax on gas should be higher – in part to pay of our middle east wars which realy at the end of the day is why we are there – for the oil flow that is.  Sorry for the politics, but they say “freedom isn’t free” but I have yet had to sacrifice anything and the past administration wanted us to go out spend for the good of the country.  Neither one of my cars does better than 25mpg but I am willing to pay more for fuel if I must.        

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      Part of the income tax you pay is going to fund the war. You are not ‘doing nothing’.
      The reason we don’t have to save bacon grease or copper like in WWII is because the current war is way less of a drain on our modern advanced economy.
       
      Bush asked people to maintain their normal shopping after 9-11 simply to stave off a decline from a fear-based consumer pullback, it was not a jovial call to fiesta.
       
      If you feel the need to contribute more, there are so may things you can do: drive a hybrid/EV, donate to soldier charities, donate to a local university with an alternative energy program or a politician who has your view point.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Maybe they should put a higher tax on heating fuel, that way more people wouldn’t live in homes that are bigger than they “actually need.”  That would save much more on resources than penalizing truck owners.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Are you sure that raising taxes on heating fuel won’t penalize truck owners? Where I live, most homes have oil heat. Heating oil is tax-free diesel – same thing you put in a diesel vehicle but dyed a different color. For some strange reason,  I never see my diesel owning neighbors at the local gas station filling their trucks. I wonder why… Hmm.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    Moparman, two minor points:
    1.  The average homeowner spends 1/3 of their energy dollar on direct personal transport, 1/3 on heating and cooling, and 1/3 on electricity for everything else.  This does not include commercial shipments.  So fuel consumption is probably larger than home heating fuel.

    2.  When big expensive houses get old, poor people still can’t afford them – they are just old expensive big houses.  However, when gas guzzlers get old, poor people can afford them.  So the demand for gas guzzling vehicles is essentially boundless, while there is a bound on how many large homes the market can digest.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Have you ever been to an older, poor neighborhood? Nothing but big old houses.  A larger home takes up more resources to build, and requires more resources for upkeep as well as heating and cooling over the years.

  • avatar
    DaveA

    We buy fuel from Saudi Arabia, that money gets channeled into the terrorist we (our military) fights.  Your home most likely uses domestic natural gas or/or electric (coal/hydro/etc..)
     
    I like old cars and trucks (why I read this sight), but I just relies the conflict of it.  And us truck/SUV owners are not enterly to blame - Driving a sports car around a track for fun, or on a road just to drive is no better.  It just needs to cost is all.  Nothing to do with being ‘green’. 

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Boaters, snowmobilers, amatuer racers, hunters, RV’ers, and other recreational enthusiatists will always have a truck to meet their towing/hauling needs. When gas gets real espensive, and I think it will once the economy gets back on its feet, these vehicles will be parked and only used when neccessary. But they’ll always be around. At least in our lifetime anyways.  

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Depends on how wealthy your zip code is. Around here (down south) some people are on the financial edge already and $3 gasoline looks pretty tough. People choosing to drive their more efficient car to the store or to work. My coworker making $25K a year is leaving his big truck at home and driving the family Escort instead (despite the beating his ego takes). Lasting $3.50+ would likely drive these folks backwards to four cylinder Rangers from V-8 half-ton trucks.

  • avatar
    d002

    But what proportion is 4 cylinder “trucks” ?

    Once the world economy stops crashing, the oil price will head back up to $100 a barrel – and the US dollar will fall as the markets look for better, riskier returns.
    So the US automakers could m,ake the same mistake again.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I kicked myself back in 2008.  Beautiful Volvo XC90 V8, low miles, loaded, for some $20k.  6-9 months later the same car was going for $29k.  Should have ignored the gas prices and bought it.  I ended up paying full freight for an RX350 later.  The Volvo V8s were going for less than the turbo 5s.
    That said, gas prices are up again.  Oil is close to $90 a barrel again.  So much of the prior increase was driven by exchange rate issues, that may be occurring again.  Internationally, Oil is priced in dollars.  So the current weak dollar monetary policy, designed to encourage exports, has driven up US oil prices.  So I don’t think this uptick will last as long as in 07-08.  This isn’t supply driven, and this monetary policy is receiving strong criticism.
     
     

  • avatar
    IGB

    Truck sales are back…to 1994 levels. Wow!
     
    Car sales are still nowhere. Who are buying trucks? I’m pretty sure it’s not the homebuilders.


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