Pickup Truck Segment at a 31-Year Low

2011 Chevrolet SilveradoAs high gas prices continue to rock the auto industry, pickup truck sales are taking it on the chin: Pickup sales as a percentage of all vehicle sales are at their lowest point since 1980, according to Wards Automotive.

Six years ago, pickups were nearly twice as popular as they are today. Full-size and small pickups made up 22.9% of all new-car sales in July 2005, instead of the 11.8% share the utility vehicles garnered last month.

The main culprits behind the drop in the popularity, besides high gas prices, include high unemployment and a dormant housing industry — those figures typically run parallel to the rise and fall of demand for pickups, Wards says.

The decline affects domestic automakers more than Japanese automakers; Korean and German automakers don’t even build pickups. Only two pickups landed on the top 10 best-sellers list for April: the Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet Silverado. The Silverado, whose sales declined 0.9% for the month, fell from its typical second-place spot to fourth. When you look at the top 20 best-sellers in April, the only other truck on the list is the Ram, in 14th place, with sales up 29.4%.

Keep in mind that pickup truck sales are actually up in 2011 compared with 2010, but the increase is less than other segments — small cars, midsize cars and midsize SUVs are growing much more quickly — which is reducing the segment’s market share. Most of the drop-off in truck sales as a percentage of all vehicles comes from a lack of demand for small pickups, which haven't seen much innovation or new models since 2005 as manufacturers shifted focus to building profitable large trucks.

U.S. Pickup Segment Hits 3-Decade Low (Wards Auto)


you need a pickup to work gas price high or not no difference, but for the pleasure to drive ,,it make a difference in sales

"“If you want the lower gas prices, lower oil prices, and lower energy prices necessary for a booming economy, you are going to have to get yourselves another President.” Reading stuff like that seriously makes me feel sick, along with every time I drive by Caseys and see the price of gas.

I shouldnt have to drive a Geo or some sissy car like that just so I dont go broke filling it up. My dad has drove trucks all his life. He got to pay under $2 a gal. hell $1 a gal for years. I should be able to also. Screw china and developing nations, they got along fine for hundreds of years with horses and rickshaws, they can do it for several hundred more. Also the speculators should be shot. Along with anyone in office who wants to raise energy prices.

Ya know, if they want to get us off oil and onto some other form of energy, that is fine. If they need to raise prices to do so, thats fine too. But they need a viable alternative in place FIRST, which they do not have.


You asked why would anybody want a small pickup?

I do not require a full-size. I do not have a trailer to pull or boat and the only time I seriously used the bed to it's max was when I moved my entire house to break in the clutch last year.

For now the smaller bed is functional for the oversize stuff from the hardware store and suits me fine in that regard.

I am an avid off-roader so a smaller pickup dimensions are better suited for off-road situations and they weigh less than a full-size which means I do not need a V8 to get it moving off-road. With my stock 4.10 gears in the rear, my Tacoma does very well off-road.

I also have a better ground clearance to weight match than ALL of the full-size on the market!

I also do not care for suv's or sedans. That is for my wife to have. I demand a pickup that when I actually hit the curve, it does not fall apart and the fact I can carry much more payload in the bed if needed over an suv or sedan.

In 2015, I will buy another pickup, sorry no suv's or sedan's for me!

God forbid they make a small compact fuel efficient pickup like the old days instead of porkifying them .

I wouldn't mind one of those new global Rangers with a 6 speed manual and I-5 turbo diesel, but I don't think they could sell it in America for the price Americans are willing to pay for a mid-size. They would be about $50,000+ in Australia. Nissan sells the V6 diesel Navara (Frontier) for $66,000! That's more than the price of a Silverado LTZ Duramax 3500 in the US.

How about a hydraulic hybrid? Hydrogen fuel cell? Something! We have all these answers, yet nobody is doing anything.

ha! I like how MIKE is the first one to comment... and it couldn't be any more true.

Too bad the market is being slaughtered by the industry... unless you know something you can't tell us yet, Mike!

I'd love to see a 3.6 chevy, a 3.7 ford, or even a 3.6 pentastar in a small truck! Er, uh... or something similar. shoot, a diesel would spoil us :D

I have to agree with Red 4x4 about the speculators. A guy
should not be allowed to sit in front of a computer screen and play the market. Anyone who does should have a tanker truck roll up to his house and be required to take delivery.
There's nothing wrong with a big company like Southwest airlines to buy a huge amount of fuel at a time when they think the price is at a low point, but a guy should not be allowed to get rich being a parasite. They need to get a real job or start a real company that makes real products and employs people. If they become a gazillionaire in the process then good for them.

@Alex, that is not typical of the prices here, they are certainly lower than that.. US prices for the same pickups would be lower, bigger market.

@Alex the Ranger and Hilux for the basic ones range from$29,000 to Mid $30's. Still high and would be more like $20,000 in the US.

We all should be happy - more incentives

@Tyler: You're correct. Unfortunately, I can't edit the headline - long story.

Colin Bird will update asap. Sorry about the confusion in the headline.

The reason the pick-up is dying is because the demographic is dying. If pick-up share is to grow again, manufacturers will have to appeal to a new demographic. For instance, competition isn't just between Ford F-150, Ram, and Silverado, it is between all of these and the explorer, the outback, everybody. The others are TAKING pick-up share because pick-ups are stale, relatively speaking.

On the whole midsize/small truck thing.

I would like to see actual compact trucks make a comback. The Ford Ranger is the last true compact truck and it'll be dead by the end of this year. The Ford Ranger has very dated mechanicls but can still manage almost 30mpg in a 4cyl 5-speed model. Why? Because its a TRUE compact and weighs next to nothing. If Ford would just freshen the exterior style of the Ranger and set it up with the 2.0L Ecoboost and 3.7L V6 and a modern 6-speed auto and for the love of god NOT MAKE IT ANY LARGER. As in...Don't make it a midsize truck.

As it is today there is not that much difference in the dimisions of a 1/2 ton truck and your avarage midsize truck. 2 or 3 inches here and 3 or 4 inches there. Most of the midsize trucks I see on the road are crew cab 4x4's that weigh 4500lbs or more.

If people really want an economical truck they need to push for something smaller. As I've already stated I think the Ranger is about the perfect size and weight, and could quite easily be made into a 30+mpg truck with some modern updates.

All's I know is that high gas price's don't scare me...And I am by no means wealthy. But seriously...I'm not going to let the goverment and/or some idiot oil speculator dictate what I drive and how I live my life. I'll be getting a 2011 F-150 4x4 with the 5.0L V8 soon, and if I get 15-17mpg avarage with it under normal driving conditions I'll be just peachy. And if gas price's go up to 20.00$ a gallon ''god forbid'' I'll get me a nice 2wheeler to ride to work and back during the week, and I'll use my truck for recreational events.

I think the fullsize trucks should bring back the manual tranny! I definitely prefer a stick and I think with fords new potent engines and a smooth short throw 6 shifter in all trim packages people would love em! I love being able to manipulate my 5spd s10 for max mpgs and if I could have ordered my 05 f150 crew with a stick i would have for sure. I know for a fact I could get at least 2 more mpg and that thing would be so much mor fun to drive!

@Steve- Right on. I don't need something that can pull a house. I have a house that is meant not to move. I do need something that can pull 5000# well, and can handle 7k nonce in a great while. I really think a 2-3 liter turbo (gas or diesel) would do that just fine. I know I've dogged VW for putting a 2L TDI in the Amarok, but I think it would be fine with an automagic.

Per the article car sales are up so we can't say quality is the reason for reduced p/up sales. Pickup sales are down because: 1) The economy is weak (home construction, etc), 2) They aren't building what consumer want (fuel efficient not artificial Hp/Tq wars, where's the p/up diesel engine options?). 3) Prices remain ridiculous (time to dump the chicken tax!).


The compact pickup is dead...

People that would be interested in a small Ford Ranger are buying something better in their eyes and that is a Subaru Outback or similar vehicle.

It gives them some untility, better ride, better fuel economy, safer in crashes and awd system for the rough parts of the road and winters.

People are hitting the backroads in a Subaru now and not a compact pickup!


What you prefer and what most americans want is two different things. Most truck drives prefer an automatic trans. Thats why the manual trans is not an option for most vehicles.

Dump the Chicken Tax? Heck no!

The U.S. government needs to add a Turkey Tax...for all of the turkeys (countries) that stick it to the U.S. and to U.S. companies trying to import into their markets.

My ford ranger has 4.0 with a 4:10 rear diff, smokes half tons off the line and wastes 1 tons, has a six foot box which is longer than most new half tons and gets 18 city, better then most half tons. My question is why do some people not know anything ieDieselFuelForever


Sounds like a cool little truck. When my wife and I were dating, back in the mid-'90s, she had a coll little 1986 Ford Ranger SuperCab STX. It had a 2.9L V6. The current Ranger is an ideal size for a compact truck. The mid-sizes are too bloated. If only Ford would update the Ranger, for North American consumption without inflating the size AND price, they would have a winner.

I never had a use for small pickup trucks. When I was building my house, actually physically building my house, I used a Silverado with an 8-ft bed to haul 4X8 plywood sheets, wall board and all the 2X4X10 lumber I needed. I can't see doing that with a small truck, even with a trailer behind it. I have no doubt that some people would prefer a small truck, but most will opt for a full-size half-ton. Maybe that's why the 6-cyl half-ton is gaining popularity. My first truck was a 6-cyl, three on the tree, half-ton hand me down. Worked for me.

IRRC the early Ranger's and S10's were advertised as midsided. This was done to point out that they were slightly larger than the Japanese competition (times sure have changed).
My very first truck was a 1984 Ranger Reg. Cab long box with 2.8L V6. I got a better deal on it than a comparable S10.
The auto companies (primarily Ford)should not abandon the small truck market. I think that the global Ranger is too big. There should be a significant price, performance and fuel economy difference to keep it from overlapping with the F150.
With the proliferation of CUV's, and smalll SUV's there is significant competition/choice for the small utility vehicle buyer.
Too bad diesels are being killed as an option for small pickups and 1/2 tons.
The current crop of small trucks do not come close to meeting my needs. I can easily live with a 157 inch wheel base truck. I'm not sure where my personal limit for high fuel prices will be. I'm not liking the thought of finding out from first hand experience.

@Nate M- I would kill to have a ranger with the 3.7. The interior and exterior are fine with me as is. 5 spd, 3.7, 3.73 rear, Fx4... Im salivating at the idea.

@Buy American we have a free trade agreement with the US, i.e.no chicken tax. The Australian dollar is about $1.07cents to the US, so US products are cheaper to us. Still we have a lot of problems buying pickups from the US. Very few come here.
Similar non-tax related problems exist in other countries, so a "chicken tax" is not the reason why very few Ford, Chevrolets,and Dodges are sold elsewhere.
@Lou most people here use SUV's to tow their caravans(Travel Trailers) roughly 25-30ft overall(22-23ft internal). They like the car like ride and off road ability.
@highdesertcat Not a big deal here. Most would use a small pickup to build a "weekender". 4X8 plywood and lumber would fit easily on a Utility, not pickup bed.Utility beds can take around 3000lb.

@MrKnowitall. It appears VW's Amarok has a problem, with a "dead zone" for its twin turbo pickup. Obvious lag. From another Australian Forum This adds to the lack of an automatic, no utility bed.
""I've had a test drive of one. Here in Rocky. (VW agents have one)
Nice vehicle. Very nippy.
BUT there is a distinct LAG. Flat spot at take off.
Right at the bottom end. Just b4 turbo's come in.
You can feel it with your foot. Nothing. Then it comes in"

Just sayin...my 98 12 valve Cummins Dodge 4x4 gets 20+ MPG .... no reason to change anything or buy a new truck. I get better milage pulling a 10,000 lb trailer than the new diesels do unloaded

45000 for a quad 1500 or 150 and 60k for a diesel? No thank you.... i see sales going down more...with used prices going up

Robert Ryan, I'm sure that there is a niche for mid-sized or small pickup trucks but judging from what the big boys are doing, it appears that the Ranger and the Colorado/Canyon are being phased out. What I have noticed in my area is the sheer number of Tacoma configurations. I have seen them from the standard cab-short bed configuration all the way up to the 4-door 4X4 V6 longer bed configuration, and everything in between. Most of them were driven by young studs or young gals. None of those trucks would have cut it for me. There were times when I had the bed of my Silverado maxed out and a flatbed trailer behind it. Ditto with my 2006 F150. Since I started with a 6-cyl/manual truck I have come to appreciate the V8 in a truck. And I can tell you that the all-aluminum DOHC 32-valve 5.7 of my Tundra SR5 DC is truly the most awesome engine I have ever had the pleasure of powering my truck - bar none! Not selling anything, just sharing my experiences.


Hold onto that classic 12-valve. The last year of the simple (fewer electronic and emission controls) diesel motor.

We complain about fuel prices and tell ourselves that when you buy a truck we aren't concerned about MPG.
The CleanMPG story showed that by merely adjusting one's driving habits, you can make serious mpg gains. You should check out the CleanMPG site. I am going to try those techniques. Most involve driving more smoothly and thinking ahead. Even a 10% improvement in MPG would save me at least $400.00 per year.

@lou- I agree. I complain about fuel prices yet still drive my truck that gets bad mpg. Thats because Idc if my vehicle gets bad mpg, I want gas to be cheap. If gas was $1 a gallon Id trade my 1/2 ton in on a 3/4 ton with a v10 and 4.30 rear!

Lou, I tried my damnest to get better fuel mileage from both of our vehicles, and have failed miserably. Maybe it's my wife's commute up US 82, snaking through the mountains up to 9303-ft altitude. Maybe it is just her lead foot, and mine. I'm lucky to get 18mpg on the 3.5L Highlander and 12mpg on my 5.7L Tundra. I calculate this based on gallons filled to overflowing the filler-neck each and every time, divided by actual miles driven. People who have to worry about the cost of gas or mpg oughtn't buy a truck or an SUV/CUV. I have never cared or worried about what gas costs and just fill it up. In addition, I keep two 55-gallon drums at home filled with Shell Premium gas for the cars and our emergency power generators (because I live in the middle of nowhere). I just fork over the money and fill my vehicles and four 5-gallon Wal-Mart plastic gas jugs each time I go to town. Buying gas is a choice. I choose to drive, ergo...... I buy (no matter what it costs). No sense in whining.

@highdesertcat- I dont choose to drive, I HAVE to drive. If I dont drive, I dont get to work. And no, I dont live close enough to walk or even ride a bike. So I do worry about how much gas costs.

Benchimus, it's like you said, you HAVE to drive for your work. So you HAVE to buy, no matter what it costs. You can worry needlessly about how much gas costs but you still HAVE to buy to get to work. Eventually when your money runs out you won't be able to buy and you won't be able to work, right? If that were to happen, you'll find a way to survive. Survival is the first basic instinct we're all born with. Most people who object to $4.++ gas can make a social and political statement and quit buying gas. I choose to drive, so I buy gas. Since I use Shell Premium in all my gas-powered engines, I have been paying $4.++ a gallon long before Regular Unleaded even came close. And I will continue to buy gas until the money runs out. Once my money runs out, I won't be able to buy gas and then it becomes a moot point. Why worry about it? Worry causes ulcers. That's a lot more serious than the price of gas.

@highdesertcat -
I think that hypermiling or making some sort of attempt to improve mpg is a worth trying.
I do see your point.
In the winter trying to get decent mpg is a joke. A foot of snow fall or -35 ensures that you are not going to get any decent mpg. Living at a high altitude probably has a similar effects on mpg. I don't live at the elevations you do. I'm around 1,900 ft. above sea level.

Why didn't I think of that? The gov't should mandate CleanMPG's driving techniques: sub 50mph hwy speed limits, car pool with 5-7 adults, drive only cross country, rotate drivers, and change the working day to 12hrs to compensate for the lost time and efficiency. Yea, that's the ticket.

@ ken - They tried that once. nationally mandated 55 mph limit that was repealed in 1997.

highdesertcat- I would probably start killing people and stealing their stuff. I guess killing them wouldnt be necessary but if Im going to go down for something I might as well go down hard right? lol. And I would trade getting an ulcer for $1 a gallon gas.

highdesertcat- I wish I could think about things the way you do but I cant. They say you shouldnt worry about things that are beyond your control but personally I think those are the things your should be most concerned with. Things that are within your control? Fix it and be done.

Pickups /trucks are booming downunder, unlike in the US/Canada. I just saw this article written by Sue Mead, who did the Dakar Rally in the Raptor
"Trucks are a huge truck market. Down Under, buyers can get everything from a high-performance street rod to a hard-core off-roader. Though the Australian truck market is similar to America's in some ways, there are plenty of differences. There are lots of vehicles not sold in North America, as well as more engine options (including diesel). We took a close look at the latest truck and SUV models to hit the streets of Sydney and the dirt tracks of the Outback at the Australian International Motor Show (AIMS), held at the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre in the heart of Darling Harbour."

Benchimus, I used to be a worry-wart. Worried myself into a heart attack and ACS trying to provide for my family. When I was laying there for a week in the ICU depending on the kindness of others to help pull me through, I came to realize that we each are what we are today because of our life-experiences that shape us over the years. I realized that it was me who needed an attitude adjustment because the rest of the world didn't give a rat's ass about me and would merrily go on without me. I resolved to make wiser choices, among them buying the exact vehicles that I wanted to buy regardless of what the price of gas was going to be. Once done, I lived my live around the choices that I made, which included the gas-guzzling 2011 Tundra 5.7 I haul my wide carcass around in every day as my daily driver. We don't eat out as much as we used to because we elevated keeping our gas tanks filled to a higher priority at $4.++ a gallon, but we're not driving any less. Just living within the amount of money that rolls in every month. It's all part of the cost of rice and rent, the cost of living. My take is that you will choose to buy the gas and keep on keeping on, doing what you do now to make money. You gotta spend money to make money. And frankly, even though the market share of trucks in the US down somewhat, they still sell a whole bunch of them every day, every month, every year, no matter what gas costs. So the people buying them must not be worried about the cost of gas either.

Lou, I think that Americans, as a nation and as a people, are among the most wasteful creatures on earth when it comes to wasting natural resources. As part of my military service I have lived in several European countries and two Asian countries, and let me tell you, other people in other countries value their resources to a much greater degree than we do. When I lived in Europe I drove a '78 Olds Toronado 455 that sucked gas like it was being flushed down the toilet. If not for the BX/PX gas coupons I would have spent all my money on just gas. With only one car allowed that gas-hog was doing double duty as my wife drove me to work in the morning, then used the car for her daily activities running the kids to/from school, and again to pick me up at the end of the day. Even though the US auto manufacturers have seen the light of day since carmageddon, they still have a long way to go in order to provide Americans with reliable quality vehicles that include pickup trucks that give us better fuel economy. Ford is trying it with their Ecoboost V6 to better their CAFE, but until 1988 I never had a V8 truck as all my trucks were 6-cyl before then. I see no reason why we cannot see a greater number of half-ton trucks equipped with 6-cyl engines, and putting a heavy premium on V8, V10, and V12 power trains. Having said that, I would be loathe to part with my all-aluminum DOHC 32-valve 5.7 Tundra V8. It's a magnificent engine, even if it gets lousy mileage. My choice. I'll pay whatever it costs to keep it stoked.

@highdesertcat - we are very wasteful, with that being said, fuel economy wasn't the highest priority on my shopping list for a new truck. I was nervous about the 2011 Ford engines, so I got a 2010 instead. The Tundra was my other choice. I just liked the features of the Ford and wanted a 6.5 box. I also got a much better deal on the Ford. I wanted something with a good track record. The Tundra and F150 had the best quality and reliability ratings. Most of my friends and collegues have Toyota products of some kind. The BS aimed at Toyota is astounding.
Take care and good health to you.

@highdesertcat- I understand what your saying but I cant say that I see it the same way, not exactly tho. Yea, I continue to drive my truck even tho gas is outrageous, because its what I want to drive. However, I still get infuriated every time I see the price go up and writing out the check to Caseys for a full tank honestly makes me sick to my stomach.

Guys, like I said, I used to worry about the small stuff too. But life is way too short to worry about the nit-noy stuff. Worry about things that matter. We live in the greatest country on earth with liberties that others in the world can only dream about, i.e. the people yearning for freedom in the middle-east right now. I know that it angers many people to have to pay this much money for gas but it is but a small price to pay for the freedom of movement and mobility we enjoy. I'm not making light of this, but the cost of gas will only keep going up as long as the green-weenies will keep us from developing our own natural resources. So good luck to both of you, and I hope to see you on other threads and discussions.

It seems what we have is a lack of SUPPLY of small pickups and not a lack of demand. How does one even gauge demand for something that that no one makes them anymore. The S-10 went away, the Tacoma got mid-sized, and now the Ranger has too. If the segment isn't resurrected before long, my next truck may be a restored Jeep FC-150.

100 bucks to fill up a recently acquired '03 Silverado. But it's not a daily driver: goes back and forth from the farm to town once a week, max. Monthly gas bill at $4/gallon: about 100 bucks. I can handle that.

More drilling won't help all that much, folks. The world's light sweet crude is declining and new finds are smaller, or they are heavy oil or kerogen from shale that needs lots of costly refining. We can drill all over, but we'll at best find a year or two to meet US demand. The science is not there to show oil as renewable or infinite.

Time for Plan B for those who use trucks for what they are best for: work. Drivers, get a car to look cool / manly, and manufacturers, give us some small block diesels in light duty trucks.

I love my ole 1990 f250 7.3idi 2wd. 3.55 gears, 330,000k miles. Still going strong. I get 20+ mpg on the highway. Gets the job done really well.

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