Quote of the Day: Urban Cowboy RIP?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

As the Brits say, it never rains; it only pours. The New York Times reports that pickup truck sales are falling into the same bottomless pit that swallowed-up full-size SUVs. Apparently, “the precipitous decline in pickup sales has been greater than many auto executives had expected.” Sure, ’cause the domestic automakers’ suits are so good at forecasting sales, or preparing for their forecasts to be wrong, or reacting when their forecasts turn out seriously awry. I’m not so sure the decline contains as much precipitation [sic] as the Old Gray Lady suggests. “When pickup sales were at their peak in 2004, the segment accounted for nearly 15 percent of all new vehicles sold. This year, pickup sales represent about 10 percent of the overall market.” And remember: even with enough cash on the hood to test their suspensions, pickups are still Motown’s number one money maker. How scary is that, Mr. GM owner? Anyway, it’s the cultural change that intrigues . . .

” . . . the biggest drop-off has been in consumers who bought pickups for personal use,” The NYT tells us. So, is that it for the urban cowboy? Are they happily motoring to the roadhouse in a Honda Pilot? GMC Acadia? Chevy Malibu?

As the only Detroit automaker with a hold on what’s commonly called reality, Ford’s ready to face the fact that the country music (e.g. “Hello Texas”) has stopped. Or not.

“The casual truck buyer is disappearing somewhat,” said George Pipas, the chief sales analyst at Ford. “Today people have to make choices between what they want and what they need. And the question is, Do they really need the capabilities of this type of product?”

Ford, for example, sold 939,000 of its industry-leading F-Series pickup in 2004. This year, through August, the company had sold just 261,000.

“We are pretty sure at Ford that we will never see pickups accounting for 15 percent of the total market again,” said Mr. Pipas. “What we’re looking at now is mostly the core buyer who needs this type of vehicle for work purposes.”

Somewhat? Pretty sure? FoMoCo supporters will see Pipas’ comments as indicative of sensible caution nad product-related prudence. As well they might. But a wider reading of the situation hints at an industry that doesn’t have a clue where the market is going next: hybrids, small cars, big cars, crossovers, SUVs, what? Meanwhile, September’s sales figures will reveal the ugly truth: it’s going nowhere fast.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • 86er 86er on Oct 01, 2009
    Second point, as 86er, George B and others have pointed out, looking only at “new” sales misses a huge segment of the market. The day when there was a significant difference between a new vehicle and a late-model-used vehicle is long in the past (along with the 5 digit odometer and the 12 month/12,000 mile warranty.) There are plenty of 2-10 year old trucks out there that are every bit as good as a new one for the things you need a truck to do (haul stuff and pull stuff.) Indeed. I am looking at "downgrading" and am looking at mid-90s Chev trucks to replace my shiny 2000 Dakota because it just isn't seeing much use. The stereotype-everything crowd don't have the foggiest idea of what the truck market is really like, but Martin Albright illuminates it well above. For example, would I consider buying a 1993 Chevy Corsica? Not in your life, are you crazy? But a 1993 Silverado? If it was looked after, absolutely.
  • Ohsnapback Ohsnapback on Oct 01, 2009

    Hippo nailed it. The death of truck sales is more about the death of the construction industry and those jobs than anything else... The bursting of the housing/retail/office bubble is breathtaking.

  • JK I grew up with Dodge trucks in the US, and now live in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat. I don't think Italians view this as an Italian company either. There are constant news articles and protests about how stalantis is moving operations out of Italy. Jeep is strangely popular here though. I think last time I looked at stelantis's numbers, Jeep was the only thing saving them from big big problems.
  • Bd2 Oh yeah, funny how Trumpers (much less the Orange Con, himself) are perfectly willing to throw away the Constitution...
  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.