Blatant Truism: Americans and Automakers Still Love the Pickup Truck

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
blatant truism americans and automakers still love the pickup truck

In case you’ve just exited a 60-year coma or immigrated to this country without any prior knowledge of it, Americans have a fondness for pickup trucks. So do automotive manufacturers. Last month, the average selling price for full-size pickups was $47,393. For General Motors, that translates to about $11,000 in profit for each truck sold — but the ceiling is even higher. Two years ago, Ford was rumored to be making $13,000 on each F-Series sold and its domestic competitors weren’t far behind.

Meanwhile, the average haul for an SUV or crossover isn’t likely to surpass $2,000 on its very best days and car profitability is typically even lower ( unless you’re Porsche). That’s why “Truck Month” seems to take place five times a year. It’s also why domestic manufactures are going to ensure pickups “dominate” the 2018 North American International Auto Show. Of course, was there ever a year when Detroit’s automotive trade show wasn’t at least partially overrun with trucks?

Excluding those years where gas was expensive and jobs were scarce, pickup sales have been exceptionally strong in the 21st century. This has resulted in loads of special editions, new trim levels, and options — all of which help automakers rake in the dough. “Short of an oil shock, and that would mean an international crisis of some kind, I don’t see any dark clouds on the horizon for these trucks,” Jerry Hirsch, editor at told the Detroit Free Press in a recent interview.

While domestic truck sales are getting awfully close to their pre-recession recession peak, there’s no reason to assume the bubble will suddenly burst without some kind of external influence. Nobody in 2007 suddenly despised pickups, they just didn’t want to be the one to fuel them when gasoline suddenly became a luxury item. So, with fuel looking to stay relatively flat for the near future, America’s truck makers are preparing to dazzle the crowds at NAIAS.

While General Motors is rumored to offer the upcoming Chevrolet Silverado with a carbon-fiber bed, and recently air-dropped the tough-looking Trail Boss to celebrate 100 years of GM trucks, it has promised to bring something special to Detroit next month. Fiat Chrysler has been much more secretive with its next-generation Ram 1500. However, eagle-eyed enthusiasts noticed test platforms using a split, dual-function tailgate that can be operated remotely, plus newly aerodynamic bodywork.

“We’re going to focus on the things that we do, I think, well, and that is to build really capable, excellent trucks. We’re going to continue to grow our brand. We are fortunate enough to continue to grow the loyalty to the brand, which is very important in the commercial world and the new light duty will just build on all those elements,” Mike Manley, who heads Ram for FCA, said at the LA Auto Show. “We’re going to have a very, very compelling offer.”

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12 of 65 comments
  • AndyYS AndyYS on Dec 18, 2017

    My brother-in-law has a 4 door F150. Very comfortable and great visibility for the driver. Convenient if you have to haul things. But he never uses it in situations where he'd have to park in a crowded parking lot or on the street. I live in the suburbs and don't haul things so I can't see the logic of spending big bucks for one.

  • CombiCoupe99 CombiCoupe99 on Dec 18, 2017

    No small truck in America. Not because they don't have a market, certainly they'll take that $13,000 profit over less profit - even it means SCREWING a large percentage of the country who can step into a F150 with 125,000 miles. If ANY world manufacturer wants to break into the US market - give us a small truck again. You'll be the Honda of the 70s and 80s.

    • See 9 previous
    • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Dec 24, 2017

      @krhodes1 Of course. I can afford to drive whatever I damned well please. But inefficiency does not please me unless there is a really good reason for it. Speed is not enough of a reason. I put up with the Rover because nothing else that can do what it does is much better. My problem, albiet a very first world one, is that I can afford any reasonable new car I care to buy - let's say up to $100K (not that I would ever spend that much). But there is just about nothing that I care to buy. I don't have garage space in FL for toys yet. But I will, and I am sure there will be some interesting older additions to the fleet. I like fully depreciated vehicles too. I like it even better when I am the one to do ALL the depreciating. But it isn't a hard requirement either way.