I’m planning on a more detailed analysis of the 2020 automotive market when the numbers are available, but since we’ve been talking about pickups, here’s some stats from 2019 and the results of some studies of the market in 2020 so far. This chart from 2019 shows pickup market share by state, color-coded. Not a huge surprise, given that the states with the lowest urban populations are bound to have the highest pickup share. The national share in 2019 was a bit over 20%, but that’s almost certainly going to be higher in 2020, as pickup sales have been torrid this year.
But I should note that this chart is not indicative of the hottest trend in 2020: young, affluent urban buyers are driving the demand for expensive new pickups more than ever, and no, they’re not planning to haul hay in them. So if the current trends continue, this chart may well look a bit different within a couple of years.
In 2019, here’s the ranking for household income for buyers of new pickups:
- $250k – $350k
- $200k – $250k
- $160k – $200k
- $450k – $750k
So if you’re wondering why the average price of pickup prices keeps soaring, and why the hottest segment is the high end ones ($70k +), here’s your answer.
(update: this chart from Experian only reflects Q1 sales) Here’s a look at how different states prefer certain brands. And there’s some real eye-openers. Look at Missouri: Ford had no less than 73% of the pickup market! And Toyota had 27% of the pickup market in California, more than any other brand. Oklahoma has a real thing for Rams.
All I can say is that as in so many other things, tribalism is alive and well when it comes to pickup brand preference.
Statistics for 2020 full year are not in yet. But there are some interesting trends. Given the bifurcation of the economy, those on the lower income strata and more likely affected negatively by the pandemic are feeling more constrained in their ability to buy new pickups. But they’re more than being offset by young professional millennials and Gen Z buyers who in many cases have more disposable income as a result of the pandemic.
This from a CarGurus 2020 Pickup study:
Data shows the COVID-19 pandemic may have helped spur pickup truck sales over the course of 2020. This was especially true among younger buyers, drawn to the sense of escapism trucks offered.
• 26% of those who bought a pickup truck during the pandemic had not planned to before. Among them, over half (15%) were originally planning to buy a car, but decided to buy a truck instead.
• Younger shoppers helped fuel demand for pickups during the pandemic. Trucks offered these buyers a fun escape from the suburbs or cities.
o Pandemic truck buyers were 24% more likely to be Gen Z or millennials compared to previous truck owners.
o Pandemic truck buyers were more 10% more likely to live in suburbs and 30% more likely to live in cities compared to previous truck owners. o Gen Z/millennials were 2x more likely than older pandemic truck buyers to had been originally planning to buy a car prior to the pandemic.
o Gen Z/millennials that bought during the pandemic were more likely to say they bought a truck for road trips (40% vs. 31% of older pandemic buyers), and to treat themselves (29% vs. 18% of older pandemic buyers). They were also more likely to cite their stimulus check as a driver to purchase (24% vs. 15% of older pandemic buyers).
Young affluent urban buyers of pickups; the hot new demographic. Which also explains why there’s a lot of excitement about the coming EV pickups within this demographic:
• Younger truck owners are leading the demand for electric trucks:
o 18% of Gen Z/millennial truck owners say they will probably/definitely own an electric truck in the next year, compared to 10% of older truck owners.
o 30% of Gen Z/millennial truck owners say they will probably/definitely own an electric truck in the next five years, compared to 12% of older truck owners.
o 40% of Gen Z/millennial truck owners say they will probably/definitely own an electric truck in the next ten years, compared to 26% of older truck owners.
What’s the conclusion? Pickups are the hot category, and the demographics of new pickup buyers is steadily evolving, upwards in income and downwards, in age. They are increasingly affluent, young and urban. Average transaction prices of new 2020 pickups will undoubtedly top $50,000 for the first time ever. And the hottest sellers are the most expensive trim levels ($70k+), where inventories are the slimmest, or non-existent. And the manufacturers have been struggling all year to meet the demand.
Holy cow, Ford has a 73% market share here? Wow. My first thought was crediting the F-150 plant in the Kansas City area at Claycomo but I doubt that’s it.
My second thought is pure amazement given the GM-centricness of this part of the world. But some GM dealers around the state were shuttered a decade ago and Ford has dealers all over the place. There is a lot of rural area in this state outside of the St. Louis, KC, Springfield, and Columbia areas. But that would only explain part of it.
Driving around town last night (anecdotal) but there were indeed many nice and rather new pickups parked at residences. But I do see similarly when in the St. Louis or KC areas.
On a semi-related note, I was teaching a training class last week. When talking process improvement I asked someone who the world’s largest automaker was. Naturally, he thought it was GM. He was shocked when I relayed Toyota is the largest, followed by VW. It may have differed in the last year from when I put this information together, but it was close enough to make the point.
It also appears we do not buy Hondas here and we aren’t overly fond of Toyota or Nissan, either. Quite interesting information.
Looks like Ram has a credible shot at overtaking GM as the second largest truck manufacturer. And FCA doesn’t even have a mid-size pickup.
From what I’ve read, GM really screwed up with the interiors on the latest-gen pickups, and Ram blows them away by any metric.
Apparently GM has fixed this in their new BoF SUVs and is rushing a refreshed IP for next year’s pickups.
When we visited Texas in 2007, one thing that struck me was how many large Ford dealerships were located right beside the interstate interchanges. It seemed as though the Ford dealers popped up almost as frequently along the Texas interstates as Cracker Barrels do along I-81 in Virginia and West Virginia.
Does that 73% figure seem reasonable to you? To me it seems way out of line — no other state in that Top 12 list has any one brand exceeding 33% of its state’s market. I’m curious how that figure was measured, and if any other state (i.e., not in that Top 12 list) has similar dominance from any single brand.
The other one that jumps out at me is Nissan’s 19% market penetration in Oklahoma. There may very well be reasons for these, but I’m puzzled about what they could be.
I went back and checked that stat. It’s actually just from Q1 of 2019, not the whole year. And I can’t vouch for its accuracy. I found it at an Experian post; it’s not my own chart.
Thanks. Being a Quarterly statistic, it may be an odd blip in the data for some reason. It would be interesting to see the previous Quarter or Year to figure out whether or not that was a random occurrence, but Experian data isn’t easy to ferret out.
There has to be something wrong or otherwise anomalous with those percentages in Missouri and Oklahoma. As Eric says, it doesn’t pass the sniff test that Ford is so dominant in MO compared to all other high-volume sales states. Similarly, there is no way Nissan outsells Ford in OK and almost matches Chevy.
Haven’t seen many new pickups around here, but this year definitely had an uptick in Wranglers in the neighborhood. Whether that’s due to the new bodystyle, the pandemic, both, or neither, I don’t know.
(As always, the plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”)
Interesting information. Thank you for taking the time to compile it.
The only thing that sticks out regarding Pennsylvania is the market share of GMC pickups. I would have thought that GMC’s share would at least be equal to that of Toyota’s.
I think it was over at Ford Authority that I read that the XLT was still the most popular trim level. However the fact that there are many trims above it means that yes the fancier pickups are more popular, they are just split up between King Ranch, Platinum and Limited.
The part about the stimulus check being the driver behind the purchase is interesting. The fact that the older buyers were less likely to cite that isn’t surprising for a number of reasons. Chances are the older buyer is more likely to have a higher income and thus less likely to get a stimulus check. Of those who did get one I’d say they are more likely to put that money in savings or to pay down existing bills.
The surprising thing is that 24% and 15% found the stimulus check a reason to make such a big purchase.
That sounds right: mid-range trims like XLT, LT, and Big Horn are the plurality (more than any other single choice), but not the majority (more than everything else) of new sales.
So 18% of Gen Z and millennials say they will own an electric pickup in the next year? What news did I miss? I am on the waiting list for a Cybertruck but I don’t expect it in the next year, as defined by 12 months of the Gregorian calendar. Nor do I expect to see a Rivian or Hummer that soon.
Aside from that, it’s interesting to see data to confirm my anecdotal observations about brand popularity in different states. Though even in my Tacoma- and Tundra-rich part of California, I’d have thought that Ford sales, combining F150 and SuperDuty, would be higher than Toyota, and also higher than Chevy/GMC combined. But it also comes down to dealership location. Whether cause or effect, we have far fewer GM dealers than Ford around me.
I suspect “will” really equals “would”. Studies of buyers’ future intentions are inevitably iffy.
As to the number of domestic dealers in CA, it’s a chicken-egg issue. They tend to reflect actual sales, and we know that Toyota dominates sales in CA, period.
I’d love to know what percentage of Tacomas are sold in CA. I bet it’s mighty high. And Tundras too.
They’re like a mobile chicane on the I-5, based on my recent trips to LA.
Fascinating to look at the stats and read the report. The information that younger buyers were more likely to say they “bought a truck for road trips (40% vs. 31% of older buyers), and to treat themselves (29% vs. 18% of older buyers)” is particularly interesting — that’s a big spread in the numbers.
There’s a lot of sectors of the economy that have seen similar trends this year, regarding younger affluent people making large decisions in order to treat themselves to something desirable. Real estate, for instance is one. Here in Northern Virginia, most localities have seen very robust real estate sales, in terms of both numbers of sales and prices. Back in March, this looked extremely unlikely. But like w/ pickup trucks, the Real Estate market has benefited from a relatively large cohort of people who have been economically unaffected by this year’s restrictions, have found themselves with considerable disposable income, and an urge to do something fun or better than what they’ve been doing.
Of course no one knows how long this will last — and whether this extremely odd year (statistically speaking, and otherwise) will ultimately be an outlier, or will mark a more permanent change in a lot of sectors of the economy. Only time will tell.
With pickups, I presume the isolation and frustration felt by many in this past year has prompted a lot of folks (who are fortunate enough to be able to afford it) to make a leap that had been in the back of their mind before, but that they weren’t quite ready to do. It’ll sure be interesting how this plays out in future years.
It will be interesting to see how things play out in the future.
I said early on that there would be a lot of people with money burning a hole in their pocket since they were forced to cut out spending money on so many things.
I suspect a lot of people aren’t going to be able to go back to their old ways since they committed that extra money they were finding at the end of the month to a monthly payment for the next 5-30 years.
Great points. We haven’t seen the pickup boom here in NYC, but the 4 door Wrangler trend in hipster Brooklyn continues unabated. Parking a full-size pickup on the street is mostly impossible, and garages charge a hefty premium. Lots of CUVs though – mostly Audis, BMWs, and Jeeps in my neighborhood – with an over-index on station wagons, including my 2015 Golf.
Sounds very similar to this part of Chicago, which I assume is probably at least somewhat close demographically.
I still have my fingers crossed in hopes that Ford really creates the long-awaited sub-Ranger unibody pickup. If the rumors are correct, it’s supposed to be based on the same platform with the Bronco Sport (and next-gen Transit Connect) but that’s all been pushed back owing to the current illness issues.
There are a number of pictures on the web of Maverick test mules on the road, so I’d say that it is safe to say it is coming, the only question is exactly when.
I lived in a small town in Texas where there were lots of pickups. When I drove into Houston, the number of trucks went down and cars went up. Not surprising just that it was noticeable.
I wonder how these mostly “fashion statement” trucks will do in 2-3 years when-most likely-GA$ prices begin to soar? For that matter, HUGE Suvzz as well?
Just a thought……but maybe my mid 30 mpg Accord will become more in fashion?? 🙂 Should that happen, where will Ford and GM be market wise??? DFO
You do realize new full-size pickups can get mid-20s highway MPG, yes? This isn’t 2008.
What is “DFO”?
A good guess is they’re his initials, as if signed.
Why are gas prices going to soar?
Why would someone think that trucks are fashion statements? Do you have any children at all? We need trucks because cars have stripped families of over 4 of vehicular options besides mini-vans. We need trucks for the same reason we need big cars – we have more than 1.3 children in our homes.
Really, thinking that trucks are some kind of fashion statement that needs to be regulated out of existence doesn’t take into consideration today’s world and family needs.
Oklahoma? Can those numbers be correct? Nissan with more share than Ford? I dont believe it.
California matches what I see on the street, with Ford dominating higher profit retail pickups in particular, while Chevy and Toyota seem to sell more white fleet trims (Silverado and Tacoma). The fewer new Ram’s also seem to be mostly lower end models.
Those outlier numbers (Ford in Mo, Nissan in Okla) could be the result of a single fleet purchase. A big chunk of sales by one dealer could overweigh the broad distribution in one quarter.
The full-sized 1970’s family sedans live again! Only now they have four wheel drive and lack a decklid! What the public embraces is a never-ending wonder.