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U.S. auto sales are going gangbusters. Not only is the auto market back on track after the recession, but it’s expected to grow again in 2014. That will make five straight years of growth, a streak that’s only happened twice since World War II.
So what kinds of cars are driving sales? According to a September article in Businessinsider.com, the top-selling cars in the U.S. are:
That’s right, three out of the five most popular cars in the country are pickups. USA Today reported that pickup sales were expected to top two million in 2013.The New York Daily News wrote that “pick-up truck sales are controlling the automotive market, with sales up 22.8 percent this year… By comparison, the automotive market as a whole is up 9.8 percent through July.”
Pickups are also responsible for the upswing in domestic auto sales. The Detroit Three were at the top of the industry this year, with increased sales of more than 10%. The Ford F-Series Chevy Silverado and Ram 1500 all saw increases of at least 20% this past year—and there’s no sign that automakers will back off from these moneymakers. “It would be one thing if the domestics were going to get better in cars and pull back on trucks, but they aren’t,” said Tom Libby, an analyst for R.L. Polk & Co. in an interview in Automotive News. Foreign automakers are seeing the value of pickups: Nissans Frontier saw a 72% increase in sales.
The Frontier may be popular because it’s one of the few mid-size trucks on the market. Though domestic automakers are expected to hop back on the mid-size pickup train, they’ve lately focused on their full-size trucks. Not a bad idea, since full-size trucks account for the biggest percentage of pickup sales (look again at the top 5 cars list—all the pickups listed are full-size).
Not only are today’s most popular pickups full-size, they’re more fuel efficient and loaded with amenities like rearview cameras and USB ports. They’re also used more for work than personal use use. "Today's contractor wants as much luxury in the pick-up he drives for work as the sedan he drives at home," says Stephanie Brinley, senior analyst at IHS Automotive. Crew cabs are also popular: Rick LoFaso, Toyota's manager of truck operations, reports that sales of crew cabs in full-size trucks have increased from 48 to 60 percent in the last five years.
Comfort, utility, and fuel efficiency—no wonder pickups’ popularity is growing. And 2014 may be their best year yet. What are your thoughts on pickups for the new year?