America’s love affair with pickup trucks

America’s love affair with pickup trucks

  • Business
  • December 18, 2022
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We Americans have long had a crush on our cars, but when it comes to a truly committed vehicle relationship, it’s the pickup truck that gets our hearts beating. It turns out that things like towing capacity and payload can really make the engine work. Trucks make up about 20% of U.S. sales this year, slightly more than cars. In fact, pickups (Ford F-Series, Chevy Silverado, and Ram Pickup) make up three of the top five selling vehicles this year.

Take Ford’s F-Series. It’s been America’s best-selling truck for four decades. How important are they to Ford’s bottom line? We asked CEO Jim Farley, “The F-Series is the second most valuable consumer product by revenue, after the iPhone. It’s enormous.

“That’s the modern horse,” he said to Cowan. “It is your reliable partner. You can work with it, you can have fun with it, you can kind of go anywhere. It’s an American way of life.”


Ford CEO Jim Farley with correspondent Lee Cowan. CBS News

Pickup trucks are most popular in the states you’d probably expect — Texas, Wyoming, North Dakota, and the like — where construction, ranching, and transportation are a way of life. But there are also plenty of coastal pickups. Suffice to say, you can’t get that big of a sale just by selling pickups in Red States. According to JD Power, it’s millennials buying the most new trucks these days, and yes, some have no desire to haul more than a bag of groceries.

A young pickup driver told CBS News, “I don’t need him for anything. I could drive anything. I only drive it to get from point A to point B.”

The number of women interested in pickups is also growing almost every year. Cowan asked a woman attending the Texas Auto Show at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas, “Do you need a truck, or do you just like the way they look?”

“I like the blue one!” She laughed.


The three best-selling models in the US have sold more than 1.2 million units since the beginning of the year. CBS News

The midsize truck market is also on the rise, like Chevy’s Colorado, Ford’s Ranger and GMC’s Canyon. Although they are smaller, they can be just as powerful. And of course, all-electric pickups are no longer a fantasy. While they’re still far from being a farmer’s friend, this is another sign that pickups are going nowhere.

But when it comes to why—why we love something with four wheels and a bed—it’s a lot like asking why people love hot dogs at baseball games; Trucks are Americana, and like hot dogs, it’s best not to get caught between a hungry fan and his mustard.

“I’ve seen more bar fights about which truck you drive than anything else,” said Tim Esterdahl, editor of Pickup Truck + SUV Talk. “I mean, it’s competitive, isn’t it? There’s no country song about a Camry!”

Esterdahl said buyers seem particularly keen on the idea of ​​keeping up with Jones’ pickup: “We want to brag about rights,” he said. “When Ram came out with their new truck, the Heavy Duty, it had a thousand foot pounds of torque – a thousand pounds of torque! – I mean, you all want to buy this truck! They say, ‘Yes, I have a thousand foot pounds of torque. You will never use it. I have no idea how to use it. But I have it!'”

Behind the wheel of the Ram 1500 TRX, you probably won’t have to do boulder crawling on your way to take the kids to school. But you have to dig deep to own one; They start at around $80,000. And GMC’s all-electric super truck, the Hummer EV, costs over $100,000. You may not need all of its off-road capability, but for people like Reka Williams who are looking at a model at the Texas Auto Show, that’s not the point: “It’s not about what you need; it’s about what you like, what you enjoy, what you deserve, okay? And you know what, honey? I deserve this!”


The all-electric GMC Hummer EV, which costs between $80,000 and $110,000, sold out immediately when it launched this year and has been on backorder for at least two years, GM Authority reports. CBS News

The biggest capacity that many trucks boast these days is the amount of luxury in tow. Esterdahl said: “I was at a press conference for Ram once. They launched a new truck. And I went to the CEO and said, ‘I didn’t know if you were talking about a big truck or a Chanel handbag.'”

Quilted leather, heated steering wheels, and panoramic sunroofs are all riches of the modern truck that’s got some old-school Texas ranchers like Pat Mackey scratching their farmer’s tan: “I mean, I’ve never seen anyone do that.” got up in the sunroof and rope has a cow on top of it so I don’t need a sunroof and all that stuff in there.”

Pickup Luxury Interior.jpg

CBS News

While big can be bigger on a ranch, it might not be better in traffic. Some of the largest trucks these days have grilles so blunt and so tall that critics fear they create a blind zone and eclipse cyclists, pedestrians and especially children.


CBS News

Cowan asked Ford executive Ted Cannis, “They look like they’re getting bigger and bigger and bigger every year.

“Well, they’ve gotten bigger over time,” he replied. “The cabs have grown. Two rows of seats, better for families and passenger transport.”

Cannis points out that many of today’s trucks (including Fords) have technologies like Pre-Collision Assist with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking — all pretty high-tech stuff for a truck.

The trucks we used to know were as homely as a hound. Dense but with character, with rust for a two-tone look. And the dashboard was just a place to smoke.

That legacy is still there; Trucks remain a symbol of Dust Bowl determination. But these days you can dress them up (or dress them up), drive up walls, or drive up Wall Street. Not bad for what Henry Ford once envisioned as an easy way to haul some hay.

For more information:

Story produced by Dustin Stephens. Publisher: George Pozderec.


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