Truck sales are expected to rebound for the next several years, several analysts say, as aging pickup fleets need to be replaced and the residential and commercial real estate markets build momentum. This should bode well for the Detroit Three truck makers, which have a ready supply of high-profit pickup trucks just waiting to replace some of the oldest average-vehicle-age work trucks that the trade-in market has seen in decades.
According to Automotive News, dealers are looking forward to the day when the more expensive full-size pickup trucks play a bigger role in their sales mix, as more small-car sales (and their smaller profit margins) become more popular. And if what some experts are seeing in the sales numbers for the first half of 2012 continue, pickup truck sales could be back up to pre-recession levels by the end of the year.
However, those same experts note we're not likely to ever see the huge pickup sales numbers we saw around 2000, when as many as one in five vehicles sold in the U.S. was a pickup truck. More likely, the segment will settle to a comfortable 2-million vehicle level over the next several years, barring any dramatic shifts.
In fact, the next big worry many dealers are anticipating is not having enough good used vehicles to meet demand, as many companies and private owners have kept their old pickups longer than usual when bringing them in for trade-ins or upgrades. As a result, many dealers aren't comfortable selling trucks upward of 125,000 miles when their typical trade-ins used to come in with between 50,000 and 75,000 miles on the odometer. Of course, that could mean there will be some great deals for opportune truck buyers who don't mind digging into their used-truck project to make a few modifications or aftermarket upgrades.
Much of what happens in the short-term new and used truck market will be determined by what happens in the economy over the next six to 12 months. Expect to hear more and more economic reporting from the automotive news outlets, as those issues will significantly impact how Ford, GM and Ram Truck dealers respond.