By on April 8, 2008

08edge_01.jpgMarch comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb. As far as auto sales were concerned, the month came in like a dead fish and left like… a pile of dead fish. While the raw sales numbers rose from February's levels, total sales were down by 12 percent compared to March of last year. Year to date (YTD), total sales were off by eight percent. Reflecting higher gas prices, light truck sales dropped by 17.8 percent; car sales "only" sank 5.9 percent. Here's how our individual bellwether models fared…

Pickup Trucks

Between the downturn in construction and the upturn in gas prices, truck sales were dismal. Chevrolet Silverado sales fell 23.5 percent month, down 19.6 percent year-to-date. Ford's F-Series fared worse, ending the month down 23.8 percent; annual sales were down 13.7 percent. The Dodge Ram made the worst showing, losing 31.3 percent on the month and 24.6 percent on the year. The Toyoya Tundra actually showed an increase: up 8.4 percent for the month and 39.7 percent for the year. As noted last month, the current model was new on the market last year; sales were just ramping-up.

Passenger Cars

For the most part, as expected, passenger cars fared better than trucks. The Chevrolet Malibu, was down a bit: 0.4 percent in March. But GM's last Next Big Thing's overall sales are up 16.7 percent over last year's. The Ford Fusion was one of the few models to show an increase for both the month (0.6 percent) and year (0.9 percent). Chrysler's 300 delivered the same [horrendous] performance as the Ram, cratering 29.7 percent for the month and 17.9 percent on the year. While the Toyota Camry is still ahead of last year by 1.1 percent, it finished March down 4.2 percent. Honda's jumbo-sized Accord was only 0.8 percent below last March but still down 5.2 percent year to date.

Truck-based SUVs

SUV's suffered the same fate as pickups. GM ante-penultimate Next Big Thing, the Chevrolet Tahoe, continues to lose ground, dropping 34.2 percent from last March and 26.3 for the year. The Ford Explorer gained a bit from February, but still lost 14.8 percent for the month and 20.4 percent year-to-date. The Dodge Durango continues its death spiral; 38.3 percent below March 2007 and 36.5 percent for the year so far. Surprisingly, The Totoya Sequoia's monthly sales went up 11.2 percent month. Annual sales are up 13.1 percent. However, just like last month, the raw numbers are low. So a difference of just 300 sales constitutes a high jump in the percentages. 

CUVs

CUV sales were a mixed bag in March. The GMC Acadia was still well above last year's sales stats, showing a 29.4 percent gain in March;76.6 percent ahead year to date. The Ford Edge continues its sales growth, ending the month 23.8 percent ahead of last year and up 47.2 percent for the total year. The Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot didn't fare as well, finishing March down 7.4 percent and 29.1 percent respectively. For the year, the Highlander is up 7.3 percent while Pilot is down 7.8 percent.

Prius

With gas prices at all time highs and still climbing, Toyota's having no problems selling every Prius they can build. In March, sales of the Japanese gas – electric hybrid rose 7.7 percent month above last year. Year-to-date, they're up 8.1 percent. In March, sales of the Civic Hybrid were up 34 percent. Lexus' RX400h sales climbed by 6.7 percent. Camry Hybrid sales rose 34.7 percent (hybridcars.com reports that hybrid version of the Camry outsold the V-6 model in March).

Total Sales

The only word to describe the overall sales picture: "disaster." Whether we're talking about March or year to date, all five manufacturers were below last year's performance. GM dropped 18.7 percent compared to last March, down 10.9 percent year-to-date. Ford sales were down 14.1 percent for the month; so far they're trailing last year by 9 percent. Chrysler was a genuine disaster zone, finishing 19.4 percent below last March, down a total of 15.5 percent year for the yearToyota's performance was surprisingly off, with a 10.3 percent drop from March 2007, down 5.6 percent on the year so farHonda— the automaker with the lowest number of pickups and SUVs– was down 3.2 percent for March, minus 0.45 percent year-to-year.

The Future

The immediate future holds little prospect of any relief in gas prices or improvement in the economy.Truck and SUV sales– on which The Big 2.8 business still depends– will continue to fall. Small cars and smaller CUVs will continue increasing their market share. But don't expect any sales miracles. It's shaping up to be a long dry summer, sales-wise.

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48 Comments on “By the Numbers: Sales March… Off a Cliff...”


  • avatar
    geeber

    For GM, the numbers for the Silverado and Tahoe are especially troubling. The company diverted funds from other projects to rush those vehicles to market, and early in their life cycle, sales are dropping fast. GM has repeatedly stressed the importance of the GMT-900 platform; the latest “turnaround” is about finished if those vehicles tank.

    Regarding the Honda Accord – lots of dealers around here were loaded with the more expensive V-6 EX versions, which did not seem to be moving. Now the lot mix is definitely tilted more towards the four-cylinder EX versions. Perhaps that is why the sales have started to improve over last year’s numbers?

  • avatar

    Wonder whether the market is gradually realizing that Honda has the best equation of vehicles respective of today’s consumers? It seems Honda have the most resilience against the downturn.

    As to the Tahoe, it appears that rich people do care about the price of gasoline. Who’da thunk it? Take notes, BL.

    The above is, of course, disastrous not just for the carmakers but also for the economy, in a biting the tail way. Frisky car sales means the economy is doing well — car sales going south means ditto for the economy. Car sales nosediving …
    Chrysler is definitely in trouble, but I wonder whether GM is the company that will shudder first.

    And – is it just me? Acadia is not a good name for a car. Unless you’re fond of horticulture and can add your own r.

  • avatar
    C. Alan

    I think Toyota NA is starting to feel some heat. For the first time in my memory, they are offering 0% financing on the Corrola out here on the west coast. I have to admit, it worked, there is now an ’09 Corrola in my driveway.

  • avatar
    bleach

    Stein,

    I don’t know if the rich are really that worried about gas, but around me many Tahoe or $30-$35K car owners kind of stretched to get there. It just seems like so many who needed the $20-$25K family transport took the easy credit and moved up to the Tahoe class. Now that group might have been rationalized back to something more sensible.

  • avatar
    y2kdcar

    It’s refreshing to see a drop in Toyota’s sales numbers. I’m not sure what’s behind it — their increasing reliance on truck sales, the fundamentally boring nature of their cars and trucks, or their flagging quality — but whatever the reason, it’s nice to see them sharing some of the Detroit Three’s pain.

  • avatar
    night driver

    @C.Alan –

    You are reinforcing the stereotype that the target Corolla driver cares so little about the driving experience that they cannot spell the name of their own car ;)

    Toyota, in my area (East Coast) has been offering rebates and low financing on many models this year – including $1,000 off the Camry Hybrid. Honda’s sales have come without large sales incentives – I have only seen low financing offers on the Pilot, Element, and Odyssey.

    The scary thing about Honda’s market offerings is that they are a year away from reacting to the increase in gas prices — the “Global Family Hybrid”, Diesel TSX and Accord, new Fit, and mid-model-refreshed Civic are around 6 – 18 months away.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Stein X Leikanger: As to the Tahoe, it appears that rich people do care about the price of gasoline. Who’da thunk it? Take notes, BL.

    Two thoughts here:

    One, not everyone who buys a big SUV is really rich. Many people I know either go in debt up to their eyeballs to buy one, or have used a home equity line of credit to purchase one (which, I guess, is another way of going further into debt). The problem is that housing prices aren’t rising anymore, and are actually DECLINING in some sections of the country, which is eliminating a whole lot of buyers.

    Second, most people I know who are REALLY rich (as opposed to people who APPEAR to be rich) didn’t get that way by spending it on mega-SUVs, or however much it costs to fill one up with $3.50-a-gallon unleaded.

    This, incidentally, also applies to the BMW and Mercedes SUVs.

    I would also expect this downturn to hurt both Acura and BMW, both of which seem to be the car of choice for young, fresh-out-of-college, fastrack types who want something above the everyday Fords, Hondas, Toyotas and Nissans, but are really stretching to buy an Acura or BMW.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    I would very much appreciate CR-V and RAV4 figures for March. Thank you in advance!

  • avatar

    @bleach & geeber

    I was making a too smart reference to Bob Lutz’ assertion when the Tahoe was launched, and he was asked whether there was a market for gas guzzlers now.
    “Everybody thinks high gas prices hurt sport utility sales. In fact they don’t,” he said, adding that buyers of big S.U.V.’s like the Suburban, GMC Denali and Cadillac Escalade were well-off enough to be insulated from rising gas prices.

    “Rich people don’t care,” he said.

    I prostrate myself before the man’s infinite wisdom …

  • avatar

    Second, most people I know who are REALLY rich (as opposed to people who APPEAR to be rich) didn’t get that way by spending it on mega-SUVs, or however much it costs to fill one up with $3.50-a-gallon unleaded.

    Reminds me of a comment, somewhere, where someone said their rich landlord (owner of lots of buildings) drove a Hyundai Accent.

    John

  • avatar
    bleach

    Oh, okay that makes a lot more sense now. Infinite wisdom on his part indeed.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Sammy B,

    Toyota Detail Here

  • avatar
    windswords

    The Ram sales decline doesn’t surprise me. The customers know a new design is on it’s way in the fall. This means you could get a fantastic deal on a ‘leftover’ 2008 if you don’t have to have the newest thing. The 300 sales are much more worrisome in my opinion.

  • avatar
    polpo

    I think you should also add small cars to By the Numbers. Something interesting is happening in that segment. For example, in March, Toyota Yaris sales were up 84% and the Honda Fit was up 74%. (source)

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Good report as usual Frank.

    I think the YTD company charts tell a clearer story than the raw numbers.

    Honda, Toyota and Ford are all tracking in line with their previous years pretty well WHEN you look at the numbers in light of the market down turn.
    Honda and Toyota are both showing smaller drops (esp. Honda, I think the “truck lite line-up” analysis is spot on) than the market. Ergo, they are gaining market share, which indicates that they are still doing well with the consumers.

    @y2kdcar-I think this answer your question about Toyota-they are doing fine, consumer acceptance is still good, just fewere total consumers.

    Ford is tracking just behind the market drop. This indicates to me that they maybe stabilizing in the eyes of the consumer. The raw numbers drop has got to hurt, but they are not hemorraging (sp) market share this year. When the market turns they maybe OK.

    GM and Chrysler? Ouch! They are clearly not showing any positives in their trend lines. Both are well below the market drop, and sinking. Heck, they ARE the market drop.

    I’ve noted before that Ford seemed to start to level out, market share wise, after CR gave them the ol’ “thumbs-up” on reliability last fall. Any thoughts out there on whether any of you think it had an effect.

    Cheerio,

    Bunter

  • avatar
    geeber

    Stein X Leikanger:

    That Mr. Lutz can’t tell the difference between the truly rich and the HELOC and credit-card rich is scary.

    I’m sure that some truly wealthy people like those big SUVs (to pull a horse trailer, for example), but the bottom line is that I see a fair number of them in neighborhoods where it has to be a stretch to buy and operate a vehicle that expensive. Buyers in the second category have been driving the increase in sales of those vehicles these past few years.

    Frank Williams:

    Perhaps you can break out passenger car sales further…subcompact (Fit, Yaris); compact (Focus, Civic, Cobalt); midsize (Accord, Malibu, Camry) and full-size (Taurus, Avalon, Lucerne).

    With light-truck sales on the downward slide, it would be interesting to see how each manufacturer’s passenger cars are faring, particularly the smaller cars.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Interesting statistics indeed. I see that here in Canada, only three manufacturers are really feeling the pinch this past winter, and it ain’t the Big 3.

    Go to Desrosiers and check out the .pdf on sales stats.

    BMW is dying and Volvo and Saab are virtually dead. Ford, GM and Chrysler are just ahead year-to-date of last year, although Rick’s boys kind of lost their way during March.

    BMW off by 15% YTD, Volvo -32%, Saab -43%. Bar Suzuki, everyone else held or increased.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Overall, Toyota and Honda’s sales are plateauing out. Considering this is deep into “credit crunch” time, that’s actually pretty good.

    GM and Chrysler are in a world of trouble. Plummeting sales in their last bastion (pick ups and SUV’s is pretty much the final furlong and probably time for a another GM deathwatch about GM’s falling sales in its only profitable area:

    GM Deathwatch 172: Losing the last bastion.

    Generally, this doesn’t work well for GM and Chrysler. There are fewer customers and more of them want to shop elsewhere.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Honda is suddenly looking very smart for avoiding the body-on-frame and V-8 segments. For years Honda took a lot of heat for not being in those “hot” markets.

    Nissan spent a fortune tooling up a the Titan and Armada. Toyota spent two fortunes (in my book a Billion dollars is one fortune) designing the latest Tundra and building a huge new factory dedicated to it. Now the big body-on-frame V-8 powered vehicle market is contracting at a rapid clip. You know the little market slice the old Ford Panter platform enjoys? Look for the big body-on-frame pickup/SUV to become a similar niche vehicle over the next 5-10 years.

    Honda is looking very, very smart right now. Of course they are the only auto company led by engineers :).

  • avatar

    Sammy B :
    I would very much appreciate CR-V and RAV4 figures for March. Thank you in advance!

    CR-V – down 3.5% in March, up 6.5% year to date
    RAV4 – down 27.4% in March, down 17.3% year to date

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    ^ Thanks Frank!

    I wonder where all those RAV4 buyers went

  • avatar

    @jthorner

    Honda is looking very, very smart right now. Of course they are the only auto company led by engineers :).

    Yup, that’s definitely going to come back and bite them- :-)

    I remember reading an interview with Charlie Baker, Chief Engineer of Honda USA, on their philosophy of building “the most environmentally friendly cars with the best mileage in each category.” They had been derided both by competitors and customers (who wanted larger cars.) His response:
    “When you’re a philosophy-driven company, you don’t ask your customers if they agree with your philosophy.”
    I was so impressed by that. And now it’s paying off – they looked into the future, and avoided Toyota’s mistake of hedging their bets by messing with cars that are irrelevant to today’s consumer concerns.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    RAV4 was new last year, I believe, so sales were higher than normal then. That always clouds these sales figures-was the vehicle new or not this year or last (or was/is a new model about to be introduced)? And if it was new, how new? That is, the first couple months of a new vehicle’s introduction, there’s frequently a limted supply of the new model.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    And then there is also the fact that Honda’s cars last so long. Okay my X-brand car is a better car b/c of these attributes but then it is on borrowed time at 125K miles when the Honda will last another 100K at least if it is well cared for. Sure I like buying my cars once every 18 years compared to other folks who have to do this every 10 years.

    I invest my money in other things like – paying off my mortgage…

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Lexus Passenger cars are down 14% YTD! That must hurt.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    C. Alan:
    I think Toyota NA is starting to feel some heat. For the first time in my memory, they are offering 0% financing on the Corrola out here on the west coast. I have to admit, it worked, there is now an ‘09 Corrola in my driveway.

    Toyota incentives though still remain the lowest out of all major automakers.

    http://www.autoobserver.com/2008/04/incentives-to-r.html

    y2kdcar:
    It’s refreshing to see a drop in Toyota’s sales numbers. I’m not sure what’s behind it — their increasing reliance on truck sales, the fundamentally boring nature of their cars and trucks, or their flagging quality — but whatever the reason, it’s nice to see them sharing some of the Detroit Three’s pain.

    Look closely at Toyota’s sales results, and you can see exactly what’s behind it; the Corolla model changeover. Toyota sales were down roughly 10K units for March. Corolla sales in March also happened to be down roughly 10K units. Looking closer, Corolla production at North American plants was down 9K units in March compared to March 2007. That is proof that the factories are still ramping up 2009 Corolla production. Once Corolla production fully ramps up, Toyota sales should be in very good shape considering the tough conditions in the market.

    night driver:
    Toyota, in my area (East Coast) has been offering rebates and low financing on many models this year – including $1,000 off the Camry Hybrid. Honda’s sales have come without large sales incentives – I have only seen low financing offers on the Pilot, Element, and Odyssey.

    Check out the link I posted. Honda incentives were greater than Toyota incentives in March.

    Paul Niedermeyer:
    Lexus Passenger cars are down 14% YTD! That must hurt.

    Not as bad as Acura sales are down though. Also let’s not forget January and February were tough months for BMW.

    Not surprising that Lexus sales are down, since they are offering very little incentives compared to other luxury brands, even under the current economic conditions.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Niedermeyer-If you look at the history of the sales charts over at pressroom.toyota.com, you’ll note that Lexus is extremely “streaky”-that is, sales go up by a huge bunch when a new model is introduced and then fall rather quickly as the model ages. It’s not a problem, since Lexus updates their product frequently, but I don’t think they have released any new cars recently. That is, the only new Lexus is the LX 570 (a SUV), which was up 156.1%. This is typical for Lexus-one or two models up 100% or more, and everything else flat or down.

  • avatar
    James2

    Honda may be run by engineers, and they may have a philosophy, but I wish they would hire some designers. Would “good design” be against their mantra? The Ridgeline… my eyes hurt every time I see one. The new Accord is probably what happens when you design from the inside out –and don’t care about the “out”. The Pilot concept they showed at the Detroit show is so ugly it makes the Aztek look “okay”.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Plummeting sales in their last bastion (pick ups and SUV’s is pretty much the final furlong

    Sort of like kicking the cane away from someone with a limp.

    Seriously, those figures are truly frightening. Gas crested $1.12/L here this morning. Filling up is getting to be something of an ordeal. I can just imagine filling the tank on one of the current crop of leviathins (including entries from overseas as well).

  • avatar
    jthorner

    I suspect that the “near luxury” segment typified by Volvo, Acura and much of the Lexus lineup is going to be badly hurt in tight economic times. As others have posted, many of the sales of those brands are by image conscious people who spend more than they really should be spending. Read “The Millionaire Next Door” sometime if you want a good primer on the difference between the typical high-net-worth person and the people who are big spenders.

    With jobs tight, home mortgage refinancing suddenly out of the picture as a pseudo-ATM and high fuel prices we are going to continue to see shoppers either stay out of the market or move down the price ladder. Why buy an Acura TL when a well equipped Accord will serve you very well for many thousands less?

  • avatar
    mikey610

    Camry Hybrid sales ~6,900 units.

    Entire Buick Car lineup: ~7,900 units. (LaCrosse & Lucerne)

    Wow.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    jthorner:
    Honda is looking very, very smart right now. Of course they are the only auto company led by engineers :).

    FYI, Toyota is also led by engineers.

  • avatar
    eh_political

    I look forward to the next gen Civic. The success of the Fit, and the lukewarm response to the new Accord may well influence development greatly.
    Additional body styles would be welcome, particularly a wagon. An improved dash layout would also draw customers unimpressed with the current wackiness. Ideally the next Accord will be downsized, but on the other hand Honda may well nab a lot of truck refugees.

    Honda is best positioned to weather things, and perhaps Hyundai at the low end of the market. On the other hand, I am guessing the Hyundai buyer is a more fickle consumer, one that might well cross-shop some used car bargains. I know I would.

  • avatar
    NickR

    One good thing…I can just imagine the bargain you can drive on just about everything out there right now. If I was shopping, I’d be merciless. ‘Oh, look, a Dodge Ram…here’s 50 cents on the MSRP dollar.’

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Here’s an interesting question:

    Let’s say you buy a new RAM 1500 at 10K off the sticker. Have you effectively beaten the depreciation? If sales are so far off, eventually the resale market will be under-served, which should mean higher prices.

  • avatar
    wsn

    bunkie, no. The sales are off, but the production does not stop. If you jump at that 10k off, then you will kick yourself when it becomes 20k off.

  • avatar
    wsn

    BTW, these numbers are reassuring for a Honda stock holder like me. My HMC stock is down from an Accord to a Civic in the past year.

  • avatar
    AGR

    Is it the car, the manufacturer, or the strenght of the incentive and financial package?

    Manufacturers present incetives and financial packages like a “deal menu” on their sites.

    Pick this model and you get this much money, and such a rate, or such a package. Pick this other model and so on…

    None of the manufacturers sell “heads up on the motor” they all resort to the “bottle” with different shots of “incentives” depending on the month, the competition.

    “I have a 5,000 unit per month vehicle, how much of a shot to get it to 7,000 per month and steal business from the competition”

    “If you give it a $ 2,000. shot it will work and get up to 7,000″…”Do we have the budget?”…”Yes”…”Fine load up the bottle, and purge the system…lets go”

    The following month the manufacturers that lost out on the bottle with the shot of incentives, loads up his own bottle with a $ 3,000 to show the other guy who has the bigger ones…and so the game continues.

    The boys from Detroit are backing off the daily rental business, lets go get some business there too…

    In the meantime all these shots of incentives depress the values of used vehicles, and lease returns….its OK we will initiate CPO programs and put a shot of incentives on the CPO cars.

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Look for the big body-on-frame pickup/SUV to become a similar niche vehicle over the next 5-10 years.

    The real reason why the pickup market went south is the collapse of the housing market. For all the pickups that are sold to folks who use them as a passenger vehicles, the fact is that lots of trucks are sold to tradesmen and other small businesses. As long as there are 4X8 sheets of plywood and sheets of drywall to move around there will be full size BOF pickups.

    I am interested to see how the Ford Transit does here. I’m not sure how the storage capacity compares to an E-150, but if it’s close, I can see plenty of plumbers buying them to save on gas bills providing the 4 cyl. has enough torque.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    @Bob Lutz: (On the cost of ownership of Tahoes) Rich people don’t care

    Many large SUVs in my area are driven by Walmart employees and other folks who cannot afford to put gas in them in the first place but got “great deals” by desperate dealers. Not only are they now grounded, but I expect quite a few of them to be ultimately reposessed. Yet another credit bubble waiting to burst.

    @eh_political: (On new Civic offerings) Additional body styles would be welcome, particularly a wagon

    Yes, PLEASE. In a hybrid, too.

    @Bozoer Rebbe: For all the pickups that are sold to folks who use them as a passenger vehicles, the fact is that lots of trucks are sold to tradesmen and other small businesses. As long as there are 4X8 sheets of plywood and sheets of drywall to move around there will be full size BOF pickups

    Some home owners also postponed plans to remodel their homes, thus another excuse to buy a truck went away.

  • avatar
    limmin

    “Disaster” or not, let’s put this in perspective. The auto industry can build millions more vehicles than there are buyers. Competition is fierce.

    How many new vehicles can our economy absorb? Must everyone buy a new car every 3 years?

    People are keeping their cars longer nowadays. In that past, that was a virtue. Nowadays, everyone assumes it’s a sign of a bad economy.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Bozoer Rebbe: “The real reason why the pickup market went south is the collapse of the housing market. For all the pickups that are sold to folks who use them as a passenger vehicles, the fact is that lots of trucks are sold to tradesmen and other small businesses. As long as there are 4X8 sheets of plywood and sheets of drywall to move around there will be full size BOF pickups.”

    Some of that is posturing, too. One of my construction friends switched from a big-ass Dodge Ram, which always rattled around practically empty, to a Toyota Corolla. “I felt self-conscious driving a small car to the site.” However, his bank account told him it was the right move.

    hwyhobo: “Some home owners also postponed plans to remodel their homes, thus another excuse to buy a truck went away.”

    Yep. And most stuff can be delivered.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    limmin-Some good points.
    Analysts have (IIRC) been pointing out market saturation problems in both the housing and vehicle markets for a few years.
    Though unemployment is up a bit it is still at historically “low” levels.
    It’s a valid question whether there are indeed major problems or a “market correction”.

    OK, if your one of the Debt3 automakers a “market correction” is still a major problem.
    The transplants are not, as someone put it “feeling a little of Detroits pain”. They are profitable and can more easily adjust their production and model mixes. They can ride this out pretty well I suspect.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    limmin :
    April 9th, 2008 at 7:34 am

    “Disaster” or not, let’s put this in perspective. The auto industry can build millions more vehicles than there are buyers. Competition is fierce.

    How many new vehicles can our economy absorb? Must everyone buy a new car every 3 years?

    People are keeping their cars longer nowadays. In that past, that was a virtue. Nowadays, everyone assumes it’s a sign of a bad economy.

    Vehicle sales are down; that absolutely does mean there’s a bad economy. Now, vehicles do last longer now than in years past, but that has been overtaken until recently by the fact there are more drivers in the US and each driver owns more vehicles.

    And, no, one doesn’t have to buy a new vehicle if one doesn’t want to. Plus, all the trade-ins from people who do buy new vehicles get purchased by people who can’t afford or don’t want a new vehicle.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    Bozer Rebbe: As long as there are 4X8 sheets of plywood and sheets of drywall to move around there will be full size BOF pickups.

    Not necessarily. In Italy where fuel was high and on various websites I see that the rest of the world does pretty good with a car or light van chassis with a full width aluminum bed with drop down sides and rear. See old VW trucks based on the van chassis. Holden sells them, Ford sells them, VW sells them, Fiat – etc.

    It’s a way to get the width without the bulky vehicle. If gas goes high enough folks will likely drive a small car and pay to have materials or appliances delivered.

    Personally I can carry 1500 lbs worth of materials on a $350 trailer which I upgraded myself from a expanded steel floor to a 2×6 floor. Can pull it with any of my four cylinder vehicles safely.

    For projects larger than this I make 2 trips, borrow a truck and a friend or pay for the delivery. That way I drive a 30 mpg+ vehicle all year ’round but still have enough capacity to build sheds, kitchen cabinets, move motorycles, engines, gocarts, mulch, etc etc etc.

  • avatar
    davey49

    You forgot the Focus being up 25% or so from last year.
    The Accord might be getting a little too big and expensive for a lot of people. Plus it has a lot of competition from Altima and Malibu and Sonata.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    “The real reason why the pickup market went south is the collapse of the housing market. For all the pickups that are sold to folks who use them as a passenger vehicles, the fact is that lots of trucks are sold to tradesmen and other small businesses. As long as there are 4X8 sheets of plywood and sheets of drywall to move around there will be full size BOF pickups.”

    For many decades the full sized truck market was around 20-25% of the North American light vehicle market and they were sold primarily to just such people. Then in the 1990s big trucks became a fashion craze and they shot up to 40%+ of the market. Now that trend is stuck in reverse and I suspect the number will end up on the low side of the old historic trends lines. Those fashion buyers are also dumping very nice lightly used vehicles back onto the market. Said vehicles make a very smart buy for the contractor, farmer, etc. who really needs a truck.

    In our area I see a lot of Dodge Sprinters set up as work vehicles. They can handle those 4×8 sheets just fine. As fuel prices remain high we can expect to see more innovation, or just importation, in the work truck and van categories. Ford’s Transit previously mentioned is a good example of this. I also, like others, expect to see things like the VW Rabbit Pickup come back. H

    The US BOF truck market is never again going to enjoy the sales it did just a few years ago. As a final note, the Work Truck configurations of F150s, et. al. are not where the big profits are made. The profits come from the heavily optioned Eddie Bauer edition types. These add ~$1,000 in manufacturing cost and raise the selling price 5-10x that much.

  • avatar
    ttilley

    geeber: That Mr. Lutz can’t tell the difference between the truly rich and the HELOC and credit-card rich is scary.

    Does he care? With a long-term focus he absolutely should, so knowing that difference should be what Ford might call “Job One”. With a short-term focus, perhaps he’s more like Mitsubishi.

    There seems to be a similar question arising where someone discusses “SUV” sales (like the Tahoe), and someone else talks about “Truck/SUV” sales and the needs of contractors, who currently have fewer needs. But the Tahoe is not a pickup, it is in many but not all cases an ersatz station wagon. For those with other uses for a Tahoe, fine. But, Tahoe’s more commonly haul around lighted hitch covers than pieces of plywood.

    If Lutz behaves, and speaks, like someone with a short-term focus, then we should just all assume that anything that comes from his mouth is only meant to goose the current quarter, and pay those statements the attention they deserve (e.g.: TTAC might gather them together for a “Maximum Bob’s Greatest Hits” page).

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