Are pickup sales about to rev up? The automotive analysts at Barclays Capital say yes. They see a substantial rebound in full-size truck sales this fall as manufacturers pile on incentives and new construction projects start to ramp up because of projects aided in funding by federal stimulus spending and a rebound in housing.
Barclays doesn’t expect the large pickup truck market share to return to its 2005 peak of 15%, but they do expect the share to rebound from the recent 9% levels under Cash for Clunkers, when shoppers rushed to buy small cars, to around 11% -- as long as gas prices remain below $3.30 a gallon. The national average price of regular unleaded fuel is $2.57 a gallon, according to AAA.
Most of the growth is expected to help GM and Ford, which together account for about 75% share of the segment. Barclays says there’s an incentives battle brewing between the two giants, as Ford tries to grab the 2009 overall corporate truck sales crown from GM and General Motors responds in kind. GM, which counts sales of its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size trucks, has outsold Ford’s F-Series pickups since 2001.
Firing the first salvo in the incentives battle, last week Ford announced it was putting up to $5,000 on the hoods of its 2009 pickups. According to Barclays, Ford had been keeping incentives around $3,000 since January.
Barclays also expects Ford and GM pickup production to increase to meet higher demand and to backfill lean inventories on dealer lots. Analysts see Ford F-Series pickup production jumping from 118,000 units in the second quarter to roughly 145,000 units in the third and fourth quarters; they see GM increasing total truck production (full-size pickup and SUV) to 174,000 units in the third quarter from 119,000 units.
Two manufacturers not expected to join in the fun: Toyota and Nissan. Barclays says that Ford’s recent increase in segment share has come at the expense of those companies, especially Toyota. (See our June 2009 year-to-date sales recap for more info on the sales trouble of the Japanese pickups.)