To call Texas the most important state in the country would likely tick off a lot of people. However, if you were talking about pickup truck sales, you'd be absolutely correct.
According to recent sales data from R.L. Polk & Co., as reported by Automotive News (subscription required), one in six pickup trucks produced in the U.S. are sold in Texas. In fact, the combined pickup sales in the cities of Dallas and Houston number more sales than in any other state.
It's no wonder pickup manufacturers pour so many sales resources into the Lone Star State in order to influence buying patterns. As you might imagine (especially with the new 2014 models replacing a 7-year-old truck), General Motors is getting ready to mount a full-blown assault on new-truck buyers or those who have moved on to other brands.
GM has allocated a huge marketing budget for Texas in order to overthrow the recent (since 2008) success Ford has enjoyed with full-size pickup buyers, especially those with bigger crew cab models. In the last five years, Ford's market share has grown five points.
GM's assault is taking place at home-improvement centers and shows, rodeos, outdoor festivals — everywhere truck buyers might gather. But we don't expect Ford or Ram Truck to sit on their backsides. We're already hearing this will be one of the biggest years in a long time for upgraded truck displays and attention-getting pickup models at the State Fair of Texas. And why not? Now that the Texas economy is running at full speed, the stakes — and profits — are high for truck makers with all-new pickups (Chevy, GMC and Ram) and others with new models on the horizon (Toyota, Nissan and Ford).
Some experts are talking about the segment getting back to the 2 million-unit mark this year, but in order for that to happen some of the Texas truck magic will have to spread to other states, and we're not seeing that right now. Regardless, this truck war should be fun to watch play out on national television, in the media and in our local home improvement store parking lots.
Save the date: Our annual State Fair of Texas coverage will begin Sept. 25; the fair runs Sept. 27 to Oct. 20.